Supreme Court Rejects Ramdev’s Apology, Questions Uttarakhand’s Action on Patanjali Advertisements

The Supreme Court declared on Wednesday its refusal to accept the “unconditional and unqualified” apologies tendered by Yoga guru Baba Ramdev and Patanjali Ayurved Managing Director Acharya Balkrishna. This apology came in response to contempt of court notices issued by the court, following a lawsuit by the Indian Medical Association (IMA). The IMA accused them of publishing misleading advertisements, claiming cures for certain diseases, and criticizing the allopathy branch of medicine.

A bench consisting of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah had previously expressed dissatisfaction with the apology affidavits submitted by Ramdev and Balkrishna. They were given an opportunity to provide better responses to the show cause notices. These notices were issued due to alleged violations of an undertaking given to the court on November 21, 2023, pledging not to make “casual statements claiming medicinal efficacy or against any system of medicine”.

The court expressed displeasure over a press conference held by Ramdev on November 22, 2023, in Haridwar, and an advertisement released by the company on December 4, 2023, which were seen as violations of the undertaking made on November 21, 2023.

Subsequently, fresh affidavits were filed on April 6, offering unqualified and unconditional apologies. However, Justice Kohli stated, “We do not accept these affidavits. We decline to accept or condone it. We consider it a wilful and deliberate violation of the order.” The court criticized the respondents’ actions as a deliberate breach of the undertaking, despite repeatedly emphasizing their apologies in the affidavits.

In its order, the court remarked, “Having regard to the entire history of the matter, and the past conduct of the respondents, we have expressed our reservations about accepting the latest affidavit filed by them.” The bench scheduled another hearing for April 16.

The court also found fault with an application submitted by the duo during the previous hearing, seeking exemption from appearing in court due to international travel. It was noted that the affidavits were sworn a day before the air tickets were issued, leading the court to believe the respondents were attempting to avoid personal appearance.

The court stated, “It is now been stated in the affidavit filed by the proposed contemnors that admittedly the tickets were issued on a date after the affidavit was sworn…Fact remains that on the date, the affidavits were shown, there was no such ticket in existence (at the time the affidavits were sworn). And therefore, the assumption is the respondents were trying to wriggle out of their personal appearance before this court, which is most acceptable.”

Furthermore, the court reprimanded the state of Uttarakhand for failing to take action against Patanjali and its subsidiary Divya Pharmacy for advertisements promising cures for diseases. The court requested affidavits from officials who had held the post of Joint Director of the State Licensing Authority in Haridwar between 2018 and the present, to explain their actions to address this issue.

AARC-Asian American Republican Coalition Supports Trump’s Election Bid As The 47th President Of United States

AARC has announced to extend its full support to President Donald J. Trump to win elections as the 47th President of United States, at its Press conference recently held at ITV Gold Auditorium, Edison, NJ. Press Conference was addressed by Hemant Bhatt, AARC- Founder and Chairman, Sridhar Chillara, AARC- National President and Dr. Sudhir Parikh, AARC- National Advisor and Chairman, Parikh Worldwide Media. It was emced by Sanjiv Pandya, Vice- Chair, AARC Public Relations and one of the founding members of AARC.

AARC DJT PC 2This Press conference begun by singing American National Anthem by Mathy Pillai, a renowned singer and pledge of Allegiance by Rima.

Mr. Bhatt in his speech spoke of bringing the community from regions of US to the Republican fold. He said that America has been going through a number of crisis and today’s America is not what we used to see earlier. There are darkened clouds all over. He referred the sense of fear for safety amongst residents, rising prices, cost of living increase, high inflation and ‘America has no border’. Legal and merit-based immigration is the only way America is meant for. Illegal immigration would hurt America big time. He further stated that life in America was much different even just four years ago during the Trump Administration, when there was safety, security, stock markets were booming, retirement accounts were rich in value and America was considered as world leader. President Trump visited North Korea, he was able to take on China and there would not have been any Ukraine- Russia war, Hamas Israel war and the world would not have been on fire as it is today. For these AARC DJT PC 3reasons, AARC announced its full support to President Trump to win Presidential elections on November 05, 2024.

Mr. Chillara said the voting patterns showed how even a small percentage of population like Asians, Indian Americans could influence the outcome of results of elections which are lost by very small margins. Asian Americans, Indian Americans and some minorities can change the results of elections and we could send our Republican candidates to White House, Senate and Congress. Asian Americans make about more than 25 Million. Why can’t we come together? Such power we have. In order to make it happen, large percentage of Asians have to be convinced about Republican party and educated about the values it represents, and have to go to polls and vote for Republican candidates.

Dr. Parikh recounted his lifelong support and engagement with the Republican party over many decades especially since 1992 the administration of President George H.W. Bush, when he and few Indian Americans republican raised $ 4 Million for the campaign. This was our community was very small and not doing very well at that time. He further mentioned that his 50 years of observation the Republican party is more pro India than the Democratic party and it is proven that Donald J. Trump would be pro India and that is good for the motherland and for us.

AARC DJT PC 1Several Asian Indian American Republicans encouraged and appealed the community to come forward in support of President Donald J Trump’s candidacy.

AARC’s NJ President Dharmesh Patel, Women wing President Tarang Soni, AARC- PA President Yagnesh Chokshi, Community leader Dr. Avinash Gupta, Sunil Hali ji, Nimish Patel, Neil Shah, Ashish Raval, Peter Carota, Dilip Bhatt, Raj Bansal, Manisha Bhatt, Inder Soni, Nayna Bhatt, Pawanji, Michael, Vijay Shah, Pankaj Parikh, Parth Patel, Ajay Shah and many prominent persons were present at this wonderful event.

A Q & A session followed the speeches.

 

AARC DJT PC 4

International Booker Prize 2024: Diverse Narratives and Global Perspectives Shine on Shortlist

Six different languages, six distinct countries, and three continents feature in the novels shortlisted for this year’s International Booker Prize, showcasing a rich tapestry of cultures, styles, and human experiences.

Eleanor Wachtel, Chair of judges for the 2024 International Booker Prize, highlighted the transformative power of novels, stating, “Novels carry us to places where we might never set foot and connect us with new sensations and memories.” She emphasized the shortlist’s ability to transport readers across vast mental landscapes, often intertwining personal lives with political contexts in innovative ways.

The shortlist for the International Booker Prize 2024 includes:

“Not a River” by Selva Almada, translated from Spanish by Annie McDermott: The narrative revolves around two men and a deceased friend’s teenage son embarking on a fishing expedition. Themes of masculinity, guilt, desire, and societal suspicion permeate this story, described as “prophetic,” “ghostlike,” and “a punch in the gut.”

“Kairos” by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated from German by Michael Hofmann: Erpenbeck describes “Kairos” as a tale of both personal love and the unraveling of a political system. Reviewer Lily Meyer notes its ability to reflect and magnify generational and geopolitical divides.

“Crooked Plow” by Itamar Viera Junior, translated from Portuguese by Johnny Lorenz: Two sisters discover a mysterious knife under their grandmother’s bed, leading to a narrative blending magical and social realism. Set amidst Brazil’s poorest region, the novel emphasizes the importance of preserving history and protecting the land.

“Mater 2-10” by Hwang Sok-yong, translated from Korean by Sora Kim-Russell and Youngjae Josephine Bae: Hwang Sok-yong’s ninth translated work, this novel portrays the lives of ordinary Koreans spanning the Japanese colonial era to the twenty-first century.

“What I’d Rather Not Think About” by Jente Posthuma, translated from Dutch by Sarah Timmer Harvey: The protagonist, a twin grappling with the recent suicide of their sibling, navigates personal grief. Posthuma’s novel is lauded for its authenticity and poignant narrative style.

“The Details” by la Genberg, translated from Swedish by Kira Josefsson: Beginning amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, this novel explores themes of relationships, memory, and time. Praised for its mesmerizing prose, “The Details” offers a profound exploration of human connection.

The winner of the International Booker Prize 2024 will be revealed at a ceremony on May 21 at London’s Tate Modern. The £50,000 prize money will be evenly split between the author and translator(s), with shortlisted authors and translators sharing a £5,000 prize. The event will be livestreamed on the Booker Prizes’ channels, with YouTuber Jack Edwards hosting.

Georgi Gospodinov and translator Angela Rodel clinched last year’s International Booker Prize for their novel “Time Shelter.”

“India Beyond the Pandemic: A Sustainable Path Towards Global Quality Healthcare” Book Launch Planned in New Delhi

“It brings me great joy to announce the launch of our latest book, co-authored with Ambassador Pradeep K. Kapur and Professor M.D. Nalapat, titled “India Beyond the Pandemic: A Sustainable Path Towards Global Quality Healthcare,” published by Konark Publishers,” said Dr. Joseph M. Chalil, a co-author of the book and the co-publisher of the Universal News Network. “This work is our collective endeavor to illuminate the pathways towards a healthcare system that is equitable, innovative, and sustainable. Join us in a crucial dialogue on shaping a future where quality healthcare is a global reality.”

Hardeep Singh PuriCo-authored by Dr. Joseph M Chalil, Ambassador Pradeep Kapur, and Prof. MD Nalapat, the book will be released at the prestigious India International Centre, New Delhi in the presence of Shri Amitabh Kant, IAS, and Prof. Dr. Randeep Guleria on April 30, 2024.

Described as an essential addition to the canon of healthcare literature, offering a thoughtful analysis and actionable intelligence for navigating post-pandemic realities, the new volume is a testament to the resolve and ingenuity that defines our industry, and it is an invaluable guide for those committed to the noble cause of global health.

Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s Federal Minister for Housing & Urban Affairs, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas described the book as “a useful guide for those who seek to understand how the pandemic has transformed our world and the road ahead for India and the global community. At the same time, it is an incipient contribution to the body of literature that is documenting India’s ascendancy in the global hierarchy. I commend Dr Chalil, Ambassador Kapur, and Professor Nalapat for their work in compiling this book.”

Amitabh KantShri Amitabh Kant, IAS, India’s G20 Sherpa, and former CEO, NITI Aayog called the book “a testament to the journey India undertook during those tumultuous times. This book serves as a crucial resource for policymakers, healthcare professionals, academics, and citizens alike.”

Prof Dr Randeep GuleriaProf. Dr. Randeep Guleria, Chairman, Institute of Internal Medicine & Respiratory and Sleep Medicine; Director, Medanta Medical School & former Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi called the book “A must-read for anyone interested in understanding how the Covid-19 pandemic has both challenged and changed the Indian healthcare system, and the valuable lessons learned as we moved forward into a post-pandemic era.”

Dr. Zachariah P. Zachariah, Medical Director, UHealth Cardiology Fort Lauderdale, said, “India Beyond the Pandemic” serves not only as a reflection on recent history but also as a forward thinking guide that underscores the importance of resilience, adaptability, and foresight in healthcare policy. It is an essential read for those committed to understanding and shaping the future of global health.”

Dr Stephen ShayaDr. Stephen Shaya, Executive Servant Leader, J&B Medical, and Managing Director, Akkad Holdings said, “The book is not just a recount of the crisis but an inspiring narrative encouraging a reimagined approach to healthcare, emphasizing resilience, foresight, and the collective effort to forge a path to quality healthcare for all. It is a testament to the indomitable human spirit and the relentless pursuit of innovation in adversity.”

Dr Satheesh Kathula MD FACP DipABLMDr. Satheesh Kathula, President-Elect, AAPI and Clinical Professor of Medicine, Wright State University, Global Healthcare Leaders Program (Harvard University commended the authors of the book “for its clarity, depth, and foresight, while presenting an illuminating analysis of the healthcare challenges and innovations that have emerged from the COVID-19 crisis, with a distinct emphasis on India’s strategic response. This book is a timely and vital contribution to the discourse on healthcare in the context of a global pandemic.”

Dr. Achintya Moulick, President & Chief Executive Officer, CarePoint Health Systems, Inc., said, “The book is an essential addition to the canon of healthcare literature, offering a thoughtful analysis and actionable intelligence for navigating post-pandemic realities. It is a testament to the resolve and ingenuity that defines our industry, and it is an invaluable guide for those committed to the noble cause of global health.”

Dr Joseph M Chalil AuthorDr. Joseph M. Chalil is a visionary leader in the healthcare industry, currently steering Novo Integrated Sciences, Inc., as Chief Medical Officer. His illustrious career spans various facets of healthcare, innovation, and policy-making, underscored by his role as a Chief Strategic Advisor for the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) and President of both NovoAmerica Health Group and Clinical Consultants International, LLC. Dr. Chalil is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and is recognized for his leadership in healthcare administration. His contributions to healthcare and policy are internationally recognized, with numerous awards highlighting his leadership and innovative thinking.

M D NalapatProfessor M.D. Nalapat is the UNESCO Peace Chair at Manipal University, and Director of the Department of Geopolitics & International Relations. Currently, he is the Editorial Director of ITV Network (India) & The Sunday Guardian. He is also the Vice-Chair of Manipal Advanced Research Group and Director of the Department of Geopolitics & International Relations at Manipal University. He has been the Editor of the Mathrubhumi and the Times of India. He has played a key role in the literacy movement in Kerala, as the first honorary coordinator of the Kerala Association for Non-formal Education and Development. He has excelled as an Advisory Board member and Associate member in various institutions. He is also a member of the Resource Board, Centre for International Relations, Washington D.C.

Ambassador Pradeep KapurAmbassador Pradeep Kapur is an acknowledged “luminary diplomat,” with a distinguished career working with leaders and policymakers in different continents of the world: Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, and South America. Author and editor of many books, Kapur was Ambassador of India to Chile and Cambodia and Secretary at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs before joining as an academic in reputed universities in the USA and India. A graduate of the globally acclaimed Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-D), he is the Executive Director of Smart Village Development Fund (SVDF); International Economic Strategic Advisor, Intellect Design Arena; and Chairman, Advisory Council, DiplomacyIndia.com. His healthcare contributions include setting up of BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences in Eastern Nepal, which is acclaimed as an exemplary bilateral India Nepal initiative. His advocacy for accessible healthcare is evident through his seminal work in collaboration with Dr. Chalil, “Beyond the Covid-19 Pandemic: Envisioning a Better World by Transforming the Future of Healthcare,” which became an Amazon best seller in USA.

“This book is dedicated to the valiant hearts and resilient spirits of all those we have lost to the global pandemic. It is a homage to the selfless service of healthcare professionals—doctors, nurses, and all frontline workers—who have faced insurmountable challenges with courage and compassion,” said the authors of the book. “Their unwavering commitment has lit the path to recovery and hope. May their legacy inspire a robust, accessible, and equitable healthcare system for every citizen of the world.”

www.indiabeyondthepandemic.com

India Beyond The Pandemic Invitation Flyer (2 Guests)

Balancing Act: Navigating Employee Privacy Concerns in the Age of AI Monitoring

Last month, reports emerged indicating that major corporations like Walmart, Starbucks, Delta, and Chevron had begun utilizing AI systems to monitor employee communications. This revelation sparked immediate concern among employees and workplace advocates regarding potential privacy infringements. However, experts assert that while the implementation of AI tools may introduce novel efficiencies and raise ethical and legal dilemmas, the monitoring of employee conversations is not a new practice. David Johnson, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, notes, “Monitoring employee communications isn’t new, but the growing sophistication of the analysis that’s possible with ongoing advances in AI is.”

A recent study by Qualtrics revealed contrasting attitudes toward AI software in the workplace. Managers exhibit enthusiasm for its potential, whereas employees express apprehension, with 46% describing its use as “scary.” Johnson emphasizes the importance of trust, stating, “Trust is lost in buckets and gained back in drops, so missteps in applying the technology early will have a long tail of implications for employee trust over time.”

Aware, a startup established seven years ago, is integrating AI into common work-related platforms such as Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Meta’s Workplace. Collaborating with companies like Starbucks, Chevron, and Walmart, Aware’s product aims to detect various issues ranging from bullying and harassment to cyber threats and insider trading. According to Aware, data remains anonymous until the technology identifies instances requiring attention, at which point it alerts HR, IT, or legal departments for further action.

Companies like Chevron, Starbucks, Walmart, and Delta have disclosed their utilization of Aware’s technology for purposes such as monitoring public interactions on internal platforms, enhancing employee experiences, ensuring community safety, and tracking trends among employees. Additionally, other services like Proofpoint employ AI to monitor cyber risks and enforce company policies regarding AI tool usage, thus addressing concerns regarding data security.

Despite the potential benefits, the integration of AI in the workplace raises apprehensions among employees regarding surveillance. Reece Hayden, a senior analyst at ABI Research, acknowledges the possibility of a “big brother effect,” potentially impacting the candidness of employee communications on internal messaging services.

The use of AI for employee monitoring represents a contemporary iteration of longstanding practices. Social media platforms like Meta have employed similar techniques for content moderation, albeit facing criticism for inadequacies. Moreover, companies have monitored employee behavior on work systems since the advent of email, even extending to browser activity. However, the integration of advanced AI tools directly into employee workflows facilitates real-time analysis of vast datasets, providing insights into trends and discussions.

Hayden suggests that companies’ interest in monitoring employee conversations stems from a desire for real-time insights into workforce dynamics, aiding in the formulation of internal strategies and policies. Nevertheless, Johnson emphasizes the paramount importance of gaining and maintaining employee trust amidst the implementation of AI technologies. Organizations must exercise caution and prudence in their approach to avoid eroding trust through perceived surveillance and punitive actions based on AI-derived insights.

While the deployment of AI for employee monitoring introduces unprecedented capabilities and challenges, it also necessitates a careful balance between operational efficiency and safeguarding employee privacy and trust.

AAPI Confers Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Ramdas Pai, Chair of MAHE During GHS in Manipal

(Manipal, Karnataka — January 6, 2024) During the 17th annual Global Healthcare Summit 2024 by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) being held in Manipal, Karnataka, Dr. Ramdas Pai, Chancellor of Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) was conferred with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his visionary leadership and dedication to quality education in the nation.

His son Ranjan Pai, an educationist and healthcare baron, who manages the Manipal Group, along with his mother Mrs. Vasanthi Pai, received the award from Dr. Aarti Krishna, Deputy Chair of non-Residents Indian Forum, Karnataka, who was the chief guest at the inaugural ceremony of the GHS – Manipal on January 5, 2024. AAPI’s 17th annual Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) 2024 being held at the Kasturba Medical College, Manipal in Karnataka from January 4th to 6th, 2023.

AAPI 2024 Collage 7In her remarks, Mrs. Vasanthi Pai said, “Dr Ramdas M Pai has always set a high bar for the institutions he has set up. She shared with the audience the high regards and appreciation Dr. Pai has for AAPI and its valuable services in promoting healthcare and exchange of knowledge and advocacy of policy initiatives in the US.

Recipient of numerous awards, Dr. Pai was honored with the prestigious awards such as Padma Bhushan from the Government of India, ‘Datuk’ Award from the Government of Melaka, Malaysia and the Golden Peacock Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his contribution in the field of education and healthcare.

In her address, Dr. Anjana Samadder, President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) said, “I extend my warmest greetings to each and every one of you attending this prestigious 17th annual Global Healthcare Summit in New Delhi and Manipal. As the president of AAPI, I’m honored to welcome a diverse gathering of experts, policymakers, healthcare professionals, and advocates dedicate dedicated to advancing global health. I want to thank was speakers and sponsors for their contributions.”

GHS is being organized by AAPI in collaboration with AIIMS, Kasturba Medical College in Manipal, the Indian Medical Association, and the Government of the State of Karnataka and the Global Association of Indian Medical Students (GAIMS),

Dr. Sampat Shivangi, Chair of GHS 2024 said, “With the rapidly changing healthcare landscape, AAPI has rightly chosen to focus on the Future of Healthcare and Artificial Intelligence during the GHS 2024, and is being organized in collaboration with AIIMs, and University of Manipal, which are in the league of the best academic centers. With the invention of Artificial Intelligence, we want to explore its impact on Medicine and Healthcare in the 21st century.”

In her keynote address, Dr. Aarti Krishna extended her felicitations to AAPI and all the participants at the Global Healthcare Summit in Manipal. She appreciated the special focus being given to the future of healthcare and artificial intelligence, as well as holding a special segment for women. She recalled her long association with AAPI and its leaders during her tenure in Washington DC where she had interacted with several AAPI leaders. She highlighted how “Karnataka has been in the forefront and now the is the foremost state of India in the healthcare sector and has taken numerous and tremendous strides to raise high quality health care to the people of the state. In fact, it has become the hub of healthcare for Indians all over India. I’m confident that initiatives taken up during the GHS 2924 will be mutually beneficial to all.”

AAPI 2024 Collage 8Dr. Krishna said, “AAPI has been a pioneering institution in the United States to support and nurture the Indian American physicians, the pursuit of excellence in professionalism patient care, teaching and research. They steadfastly pursue collective advocacy for furthering the costs of medicine, medical profession, and knowledge of ethics and legislative and regulatory changes in the profession. I’m delighted that AAPI has partnered with India to share the knowledge and progress in both our countries in the field as well as contributing to the health sector in India.”

In a message sent by the honorable Chief Minister of Karnataka Shree Siddaramaiah, he extended his heartfelt greetings to all the participants who are attending the GHS conference in Karnataka. “Karnataka takes immense pride in being at the forefront of health care, and hosting this conference is a testament to our commitment to advancing the field as we bring together minds that have dedicated themselves to the noble cost of healthcare, I am confident that this conference will serve as a dynamic platform for brainstorming and exchanging ideas.”

Lt. Gen. Dr. Venkatesh, Chair of GHS, India described the great achievements of Manipal Academy as one of the most pioneering institutes in the world, among the top six universities in the country, which effectively means that it is number one, multidisciplinary private university in the country. “I think this is a testament to our commitments, more importantly, as the world is grappling with environmental issues, and global warming, we focus on sustainability, targeting our commitment to unwavering support for environment. And today, we are ranked as the number one university in terms of environmental friendliness, and being a green campus,”

Dr. H S Ballal, MAHE Pro Vice Chancellor in his address said, “I’m very happy that AAPI is hosting a scientific conference here in Manipal, today and tomorrow. Congratulations to the more than 100 delegates with their families from the US, who are participating in this conference. Your presence contributes to the richness and diversity to our vibrant community and we are very delighted to have you here.”

The 2 days long sessions in Manipal is packed with top end CMEs delivered by several prominent physicians and academicians who are participating at the GHS and are leading and chairing various academic sessions that are being organized during the summit.

AAPI 2024 Collage 10The awesome hospitality and warmth of the local organizing committee, cultural extravaganza depicting the cultural traditions of southern India, delicious Karnataka special cusine, served on banana leaves and the visits to the local education centers, Temples and cultural sites are added attractions that made the Summit in Manipal unique.

Dr. Sampat Shivangi, Chair of GHS 2024 expressed his gratitude to all who have been instrum ental in organizing the highly successful GHS in Manipal, particularly Dr. Subra Bghat, Dr. Annapurna Bhat, Dr. Udaya Shivangi, Dr. Ballal, Dr. Venkatesh, Dr. Rohit Singh, Dr, Sharat Kumar, Dr. Raj Alappan, Dr. Bantwal S. Baliga, Dr. Unnikrishnan, and Dr, Padmaraj Hegde.

India is making tremendous progress in the healthcare sector and is building modern medical facilities throughout the country. Physicians of Indian origin have earned a name for themselves in the medical field and India is now being touted as a medical tourism hub. With a rise in population, there is an urgent need to create additional health infrastructure, which entails a higher level of investment in the Indian healthcare market in the coming years.

It’s in this context, the groundbreaking AAPI Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) from January 1-6th, 2024 in Delhi and Manipal, Karnataka, being organized with participation from some of the world’s most well known physicians, and industry leaders becomes very critical and significant. This international healthcare summit is a progressive transformation from the first Indo-US Healthcare Summit launched by AAPI USA in 2007.

Providing a forum for innovative opportunities for learning, networking and giving back to our motherland that have now enabled us to plan ahead and prepare for an outstanding event with very prominent and talented physicians and surgeons from abroad, in addition to the hundreds of physicians from India, who are very passionate about serving their homeland, mother India. For more details, please visit: www.aapiusa.org/

AAPI’s 17th Annual Global Healthcare Summit in New Delhi Concludes with Call to Bridge the Digital Gap In Healthcare Delivery

New Delhi (January 4, 2023): The 17th annual Global Healthcare Summit by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) came to a close with a call and commitment to help bridge the Digital Gap in Healthcare delivery system in India with the effective utilization of modern technology.

The flagship conference with the theme, “Cutting Edge in Healthcare and Artificial Intelligence” held at the pioneering All India Medical Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and Le Meriden Hotel was attended by over a hundred delegates from around the world and over 250 physicians and medical students from several Medical Schools and Hospitals from across India was held in New Delhi from January 1st to 3rd, 2024.

AAPI 2024 Collage 5In her welcome address, Dr. Anjana Samadder, President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) said, “I extend my warmest greetings to each and every one of you attending this prestigious 17th annual Global Healthcare Summit in New Delhi and Manipal. For the first time it is being held in two cities, in collaboration with prestigious institutions, such as AIIMS, New Delhi and MAHE in Manipal. As the president of AAPI, I’m honored to welcome a diverse gathering of experts, policymakers, healthcare professionals, and advocates dedicate dedicated to advancing global health. I want to thank was speakers and sponsors for their contributions.”

For the first time ever, AAPI is hosting the annual Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) in two cities in India, giving delegates, who are coming from the United States to participate and gain a unique perspective and experience India from the North to the South ,

AAPI’s 17th annual Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) 2024 was held at the at the Le Meridien Hotel from January 1-3rd and will be held at the Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, MAHE in Karnataka from January 4th to 6th, 2023. The GHS was inaugurated at the prestigious Le Meridien Hotel in New Delhi with a memorable New Year’s Day Eve celebration on December 31st, 2023.

GHS is being organized by AAPI in collaboration with AAIMS, Kasturba Medical College in Manipal, the Indian Medical Association, and the Government of the State of Karnataka and the Global Association of Indian Medical Students (GAIMS),

Dr. Sampat Shivangi, Chair of GHS 2024 said, “With the rapidly changing healthcare landscape, AAPI has rightly chosen to focus on the future of Healthcare and Artificial Intelligence during the GHS 2024, and is being organized in collaboration with AIIMs, and University of Manipal, which are in the league of the best academic centers. With the invention of Artificial Intelligence, we want to explore its impact on Medicine and Healthcare in the 21st century.

The annual event of AAPI, GHS has contributed to ushering in new ways of providing healthcare to India’s 1.4 billion people, who live in the congested urban centers and in the rural/remote regions of the country. The 17th annual GHS will build on past initiatives and add several new programs, Dr. Samadder added.

AAPI, which has been leading efforts to help streamline medical education in India to meet the global standards, assembled a galaxy of medical regulatory organization leaders from India, the United Kingdom and the United States during the GHS on January 2, 2024.

Leaders of National Board of Examination in Medical Science (NBEMS) India, National Board of Examination in Medical Science (NBME) USA, and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) were among the panelists that discussed and educated the aspiring medical students from some of the premium Medical Schools in India who had keenly participated at the panel discussion.
Dr. Lokesh Edara, BOT-Chair Elect, Dr. Sumul N. Raval, current Secretary of AAPI, and Dr. Shubam Anand, Chairman of Global Association of Indian Medical Students (GAIMS) led and coordinated the initiatives.

Dr. Peter Katsufrakis, President and CEO, NBME,USA, Dr Humayun Chaudhry, President and CEO of the Federation of State Medical Boards, Jeffrey D. Carter, MD (Missouri) Chair of the FSMB, Dr. Sarvam TerKonda (Past Chair, FSMB USA), Ms. Katie Templeton JD (Chair-Elect, FSMB,USA), and Prof. Hasmukh Shah, Recruitment and Training in UK were some of the others from the Medical education field, who were part of the distinguished panelists. Dr. Abhijat Sheth represented NMBE – India. FSMB was represented by Dr. Humayun Chaudhry, President and CEO of the Federation of State Medical Boards. Dr. Sheth presented the NBEMS mission and PG NEET examination, FMGE examination and more than 50 specialties for postgraduate and super specialties courses they are conducting and graduating.

AAPI Collage 2 (3)During GHS AAPI entered into a groundbreaking partnership with CLIRNET, India’s leading digital healthcare platform with the objective of running a Mentorship & Observership program jointly. While announcing the new initiative Dr. Samadder emphasized the imperative for healthcare professionals to stay at the forefront of innovation. She also highlighted that the collaboration between AAPI and CLIRNET marks a significant milestone in advancing clinical training in India.

AAPI in collaboration with WHEELS Foundation has announced a $10,000 award towards the Project – Kanya: Sanitary Napkin Machine. The announcement was made during a joint panel discussion held as part of the GHS on ‘Menstrual Health’ (under the banner of ‘Kanya Conference’). The Kanya Challenge Award seeks to catalyze groundbreaking advancements in menstrual hygiene for Indian women through the development and commercialization of absorbent materials made from indigenous Indian resources.

The Panel Session was led by Dr. Anajana Samadder, Dr. Sumul Rawal, Secretary, AAPI, Anitha Thampi (of MCup), Jayadeep Mandal: Aakar Innovations & Aakar Social Ventures, Prof Virendra Kumar Vijay (of IIT-Delhi’s UBA Program) speaking on UBA supporting Saukhyam: Dr. Meenakshi Bharat, a Gynecologist and Fertility specialist who is a green campaigner, an advocate for Clean India. Prof Satish Agnihotri: Professor, Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (CTARA), IIT Bombay with messages from Dr. Raj Shah, Dr. Vriti Khurana and Ratan Agarwal.

In his keynote address, Dr. Anupam Sibal, Chair of GHS – Delhi highlighted the enormous accomplishments of India and Indian Americans across many spectrums. He pointed to the advances in Medical Education in India, particularly since its independence, “In the past seven to eight decades, we’ve made considerable progress in higher education, and this is just a snapshot of the area. We have 149 institutes of national importance, more than 1000 universities and more than 50,000 colleges. fourth highest number of doctoral graduates in the world, the fourth highest research output in the world. We produce 6.5 million graduates every year 1.5 million engineers, 300,000 MBAs and 100,000 graduates.:

In his address, M. Srinivasan, Director of AIIMS said, “It is my pleasure that we are onboard with AAPI for its 17th annual Global Healthcare Summit. AIIMS New Delhi was established in 1956 to accomplish the trinity of mission, advanced medical education, cutting edge research, and quality patient care. I am certain that this conference will act as a platform for exchange of ideas and collaboration across the domains for cutting edge research and breakthrough in medical education. We look forward to meeting professionals, researchers and experts in the field of healthcare and research from across the globe.”

Dr. Lokesh Edara, Chair of AAPI BOT said, “AAPI’s GHS is yet another way of continuing with our constant commitment towards making quality healthcare affordable and accessible to all the people of India. In addition, GHS 2024 focusses on promoting Healthcare Technology including Artificial Intelligence in the Healthcare arena.”

Several prominent physicians and academicians are participating at the GHS and are leading the keynote addresses and are chairing various academic sessions that are being organized during the summit. Latest Advances, CME, ELS, Discussions on Research Methodology, and Scientific Writing by Academic Experts are part of the summit.

AAPI Collage 4The CEO Forum addressed by eminent panelists that included, Air Marshal Sadhana Nair, Saurav Kasera, Sreeprasad Guduppa, Sudharshan Jain, Shenoy Robinson, Karthikeyan, IPS, and Suresh Samuel, in their eloquent addresses spoke on Equity, Ethics, and how to adapt to the changing landscape in the healthcare arena and make a positive and lasting impact, benefitting the physicians, industries and the larger population.

Physician Burnout and mitigating mental health issues among physicians was the major theme during the evening session, moderated by Dr. Shubham Anand, Dr. Inderpal Chadda, and Dr. Chanchal Pal. Distinguished panelists included: Dr. Sreenivasan, Director of AIIMS; Dr. Suresh Kumar, Director of LNJP Hospital; Dr. Subhash Giri, Director of LHMC; Dr. Ishwar Singh, Director of Indira Gandhi Hospital; Dr. Vinay Kumar, President, RDA, AIIMS; and Dr. Rohan Krishnan, Chairman, FAIMAR.

Dr. Bhavani Sreenivasan, Chair of AAPI Publications eloquently moderated the Women’s Forum on “Breaking Barriers and Shaping the Future of Women.” Air Marshal Dr. Sadhana Nair, Dr. Anita Ratnam, Dr. Damayante Karkare, Dr. Madhushree Katwal and Mrs. Geetha Athreya shared with the audience, quoting from their personal experiences about how they overcame challenges in life and became role models in their own way.

GHS was packed with day long workshops on various relevant topics, Trainings, Research Contest, Scientific Workshops and Panel Discussions on how modern technology is being used in the vast medical field. On New Years Day, participants went on a pilgrimage to Rishikesh, the holy shrine under the foothills of the Himalayas, seeking blessings from the Almighty.

Dr. Sumul Raval, Secretary of AAPI said, “Harnessing the power of Indian Doctors worldwide, the AAPI Global Healthcare Summit platform has evolved with the support of prominent global and Indian medical associations. AAPI’s mission is to make a positive and meaningful impact on the healthcare delivery system both in the US and in India.”

Healthcare in India is one of the largest sectors, in terms of revenue and employment. India is making significant improvements in its healthcare infrastructure and is building modern medical facilities throughout India. Doctors of Indian origin have made tremendous progress in the 21st century and India is now being touted as a medical tourism hub.

The Global Healthcare Summit has come a long way from the first Indo-US Healthcare Summit launched by AAPI USA in 2007. Since then, AAPI has organized 16 Indo – US/Global Healthcare Summits and developed strategic alliances with various organizations.

Highlighting the importance of the flagship annual GHS, Dr. Samadder said, “This summit serves as a powerful platform for knowledge exchange, collaboration, and the forging of meaningful partnerships. The work we do today paves the way for a healthcare landscape that is more efficient, accessible and affordable toward all individuals. For more details, please visit: www.aapiusa.org/

India’s Role in Rebuilding and Revival of Post-War Middle East

Can there be a Permanent Solution to the Plight of Palestinians and Israelis?

Feature and Cover India’s Role in Rebuilding and Revival of Post War Middle East

The recent release of a number of Israeli and Palestinian hostages and the temporary week long truce, which ended on December 1st should have been an occasion for the global community to reflect on how we could try to strive for not just a cease-fire but for long-lasting peace and economic development in the region.

While on the one hand, Israel has achieved significant economic development despite being surrounded by Islamic countries, on the other hand, Gaza remains backward and dependent primarily on Israel for even its basic needs of water, electricity, fuel, and employment for quite a few of its residents.

The attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7 demonstrated to the world the brutality and the barbarism of the terrorists. The reprisals by Israel have resulted in a lot of destruction, death, and misery for the people of Gaza in the West Bank. There is a much greater sense of insecurity for both the Israelis and the Palestinians.

This has also led to a very significant surge in anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim hate crimes not only in the region but in the US, Europe, and other countries.

Is the world destined to continue down the spiral of more wars, hatred, death, and destruction? Or is there an alternative vision or path possible?

Brief background

A lot has already been written and discussed about the conflict’s historical evolution and origins. The Israel-Palestine issue has persisted for decades and has resulted in considerable human suffering. Resolving the plight of the Palestinians and Israelis is of utmost importance for regional peace. Focusing on economic empowerment, employment opportunities, and education for the Palestinians could perhaps serve as a powerful tool to counter the allure of extremist ideologies and promote peace. The acceptance by the Islamic countries of the right of Israel to exist as a free country is also an essential requirement.

The dust of war eventually settles, but its scars are often long-lasting, especially in regions plagued by protracted conflicts like the Middle East. Yet, as daunting as the task of rebuilding might seem, the post-war era can serve as an inflection point, an opportunity to sow seeds of lasting peace and prosperity.

War robs individuals, particularly youth, of their aspirations, thrusting them into a vortex of despair and, often, extremist ideologies. So, the question is, how can we pivot from devastation to a renaissance in the post-war Middle East?

How can we aspire for a prosperous Palestinian and Israeli population living in peace and harmony, reaping the benefits of regional economic cooperation, and providing a model for conflict resolution worldwide?

Economic Integration: The Power of Unity

The prospect of the India-Middle East Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEEC) need not be seen only as an economic initiative but also as a gesture for peace in a conflict-prone region. By linking Bharat to Europe via the Middle East, we’re not merely talking about trade and investment; we’re fostering an environment where economies are interdependent, thus making conflict detrimental to all.

The India-Middle East Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEEC) can possibly bring significant investments and trade opportunities for Palestinians and others in the region. Developing Special Economic Zones (SEZ) within Palestine in collaboration with Israel and other countries involved in IMEEEC would focus on manufacturing, technology, and services, drawing investment from nations. This would be a win-win situation, as the corridor will bolster the economies of all participant countries.

Imagine the ripple effects of infrastructure projects intertwining Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel into this corridor. These aren’t just roads, ports, and rails but lifelines of hope, conduits of opportunity.

Investing in Youth and Women: The Beacon of Hope

Youth and women are the torchbearers of our future. However, radical voices can seductively intercept a future shadowed by unemployment. By aligning with nations like Bharat, known for its prowess in the IT sector, we can equip the youth and women with sought-after skills. The twofold vision is to reduce unemployment and nurture ambassadors of peace, who have far more to lose in times of conflict. Bharat has already been extending phenomenal support under the ITEC (Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation) Program to the citizens of many of these countries for many decades now. Bharat, therefore, has the experience and the expertise in this regard.

Moreover, let’s incentivize peace. If companies from the IMEEEC region employ Palestinian youths, they should benefit from tax breaks and other incentives.

  1. Skill Development: Collaborate with international agencies to establish vocational training centers. Partner with countries like India, which has vast experience in IT and service sectors, to train youth in these domains.
  2. Job Fairs and Employment Drives: Regularly organize job fairs featuring companies from Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle Eastern countries to promote employment among Palestinian youths.
  3. Incentives for Employers: Provide tax breaks and financial incentives to companies from the IMEEEC region that employ a significant percentage of Palestinians.

Education: The Pillar of Progress

Schools must become the sanctuaries of hope and enlightenment in our quest for lasting peace. Through partnerships with global universities, we can elevate academic standards and instill values of coexistence and unity. When children are taught stories of camaraderie, not conflict, they’ll pen a different, peaceful chapter for the region.

  1. Educational Exchange Programs: Collaborate with universities in Israel, India, Europe, and the Middle East to offer scholarships for Palestinian students.
  2. Upgraded Curriculum: Ensure that the curriculum in Palestinian schools is in line with international standards. Focus on teaching critical thinking, STEM, peace education, and coexistence.
  3. Teacher Training Programs: Collaborate with international educational organizations to train teachers, ensuring high academic standards.

Promoting Peace, Countering Terrorism, and Anti-Semitism:

Bharat has always condemned terrorism in the strongest terms and has shown zero tolerance for terrorism in any shape or form. Promoting peace, countering terrorism, and addressing anti-Semitism requires a multi-pronged approach, encompassing education, dialogue, policy reform, and community engagement.

  1. Media and Education: Promote peace, unity, and coexistence narratives in Palestinian media and educational content. Counter any narratives of hatred and division. Incorporate lessons on the Holocaust, the history of Jews, and the contributions of diverse groups to human civilization to foster understanding and dispel myths.
  2. Youth Engagement: Establish peace clubs in schools and universities that organize events promoting peace and understanding. Promote exchange programs where individuals can immerse themselves in different cultures and religions to foster understanding.
  3. Interfaith Dialogues: Encourage interfaith dialogues within Palestine and between Palestinians and Israelis to foster understanding and unity. Set up interfaith discussions where religious leaders can address common misconceptions about their beliefs and highlight similarities.
  4. Hate Crime Legislation: Strengthen laws that penalize hate crimes, ensuring they are adequately enforced.
  5. Counter-radicalization Programs: Develop programs explicitly targeting individuals at risk of radicalization, offering them support, education, and alternative perspectives.
Ambassador Pradeep Kapur

Ambassador Pradeep Kapur is an acknowledged “luminary diplomat,” with a distinguished career working with leaders and policymakers in different continents of the world: Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, and South America. He was the author and editor of many books. Kapur was Ambassador of India to Chile and Cambodia and Secretary at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs before joining as an academic in reputed universities in the USA and India. A graduate of the globally acclaimed Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-D), he is Executive Director of Smart Village Development Fund (SVDF); International Economic Strategic Advisor, Intellect Design Arena; and Chairman, Advisory Council, DiplomacyIndia.com. His healthcare contributions include setting up of BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences in Eastern Nepal, which is acclaimed as an exemplary bilateral India Nepal initiative.

Joseph M Chalil

Dr. Joseph M. Chalil, Chief Medical Officer at Novo Integrated Sciences, Inc., is a renowned physician executive with international recognition for his extensive contributions to healthcare innovation and research. Currently pursuing an LLM in Medical Law and Ethics at the University of Edinburgh Law School, he holds influential roles as Chairman of the Complex Health Systems Advisory Board and Adjunct Professor at Nova Southeastern University, Florida. Dr. Chalil, a U.S. Navy Medical Corps veteran, also serves as Chief Strategic Advisor for the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) and is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. His impactful book, “Beyond the Covid-19 Pandemic,” reflects his commitment to transforming global healthcare systems. A respected figure in healthcare and media, Dr. Chalil is known for his leadership in healthcare administration, balanced media representation, and insightful discussions on Indian TV news channels, showcasing his expertise in areas such as US-India relations, geopolitical issues, and public policy.

The Abraham Accords 2.0: A New Dawn in Middle Eastern Diplomacy

The Middle East, often perceived as a complex web of animosities and alliances, witnessed a historical turn with the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020. These agreements, brokered with the significant involvement of the United States, marked a paradigm shift in the diplomatic relations between Israel and several Arab nations.

Named after the patriarch Abraham, a revered figure in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the Abraham Accords are a series of normalization agreements between Israel and various Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco.

Before 2020, only two Arab nations—Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994)—had established full diplomatic relations with Israel. The Abraham Accords, therefore, represent a significant expansion of Israel’s formal recognition within the Arab world.

The Accords entail the establishment of full diplomatic ties, including the opening of embassies, direct flights, trade deals, and broader cooperation in sectors such as technology, energy, and medicine.

The stymied Israel-Saudi Arabia Peace Accord needs to be restarted. This isn’t just about peace agreements; it’s a cultural and economic confluence. We’re not just linking economies; we’re linking destinies. Mutual investments and cultural exchanges between nations have historically proven to be robust peacekeepers.

MBS and Biden with Modi
Picture: PMO India

India/Bharat: A Potential Peace Broker in the Middle East

India’s unique positioning in global politics and its historical ties and soft power make it a potential mediator in the volatile Middle East, particularly between Arabs and Israelis. Bharat has managed to maintain cordial relations with both Arab nations and Israel. Historically, Bharat has supported the Palestinian cause, while in recent decades, it has fostered robust ties with Israel, particularly in the defense, agriculture, and technology sectors. This dual affinity ensures that India is seen as a neutral player, which is essential for effective mediation.

The significant Indian diaspora in the Middle East, especially in the Gulf countries, strengthens Bharat’s cultural and economic ties with the region. This diaspora contributes to their resident countries’ economies and acts as a bridge between their homeland and the Middle East. Their presence can be leveraged as they symbolize the mutual respect and shared values between Bharat and the Middle East.

Every brick we lay in the post-war Middle East can be a stepping stone towards an enduring peace or another block in an endless maze of conflicts. By integrating our economies, investing in the youth and women, and reimagining education, we don’t just rebuild post-war Palestine and ensure the future security of Israel; we revive hope, unity, and a promise of a brighter, peaceful tomorrow.

A prosperous and peaceful Palestinian society living in peace with Israel can be realized through a combination of regional cooperation, economic initiatives, and education. A focus on these areas will provide Palestinian youth with hope and purpose, making the ideologies of hate and extremism less attractive. Bharat has emerged as an essential global player, as was apparent during the G20 Summit and the Voice of Global South Summit recently in Bharat. Due to the high stakes for all countries and its greater acceptance as an essential global entity, Bharat can endeavor to line up the support of the USA, Europe, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and other like-minded countries in these efforts. With the cooperation of regional powers and the international community, a brighter future for Palestine, Israel, and the entire region is within reach.

Given its deep-rooted connections, neutrality, and the respect it commands in the Middle East, Bharat can play a pivotal role in fostering peace in the region. While the challenges in the Middle East are complex, Bharat’s involvement can provide a fresh perspective and a neutral ground for dialogue. As the world’s largest democracy, Bharat can be a beacon of hope for a peaceful Middle East.

Fiery Fourth Republican Debate: Personal Clashes, Trump’s Absence, and Culture War Unfold in Intense Showdown

The high-stakes fourth Republican presidential debate on Wednesday night highlighted why former President Donald Trump has been avoiding the 2024 primary debate circuit. The event featured four contenders: former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. However, the debate was marked by intense infighting among the candidates, diverting attention from the primary focus on the frontrunner.

Despite the smallest debate field to date and the Iowa caucuses approaching in less than six weeks, the candidates utilized the two-hour debate to showcase their policy beliefs and emphasize major differences. However, the evening was dominated by personal attacks, with Ramaswamy referring to Haley as “lipstick on a Dick Cheney,” Christie mocking Ramaswamy’s “smartass mouth,” and DeSantis claiming Haley “caves every time the left comes after her.”

The candidates seemed united in their belief that establishing themselves as the GOP’s sole alternative to Trump was essential before making a concentrated case against him. However, this strategy also underscored why Trump’s absence from the debates hasn’t affected his standing in the polls. Although there were occasional attacks on the former president, such as Christie’s anti-Trump campaign message and Haley’s criticism of his China approach, the majority of the debate was dominated by clashes between the present candidates.

DeSantis and Ramaswamy Target Haley

The debate’s first hour highlighted Haley’s increasing prominence in the race, as both DeSantis and Ramaswamy focused on criticizing her. DeSantis wasted no time taking aim at Haley, drawing her into a dispute over transgender bathroom usage. Ramaswamy continued his critique from the third debate, targeting Haley for her association with Boeing while serving on its board.

DeSantis and Ramaswamy collaborated at various points, criticizing Haley’s recent support from donors like Reid Hoffman and Larry Fink. Ramaswamy even held up a notepad with the message “Nikki = Corrupt.” Haley defended herself, stating she welcomed support but wouldn’t let it dictate her policies, adding that her competitors would accept similar support if offered.

Christie, however, broke the pattern by defending Haley against Ramaswamy’s foreign policy insults, emphasizing her intelligence and accomplishments. Haley expressed gratitude for Christie’s support.

Christie’s Resurgence and Criticisms

Chris Christie, who has struggled to recreate the success of the 2016 presidential primary debates, regained some momentum in Tuscaloosa. He portrayed his opponents as immature and unprepared for the job, making it challenging for DeSantis and Ramaswamy.

Christie criticized DeSantis for avoiding basic questions and challenged him on sending US troops to rescue American hostages in Gaza. Later, when asked about Trump’s fitness for office, Christie insisted on a straightforward answer, accusing DeSantis of being afraid or not listening. He also targeted Ramaswamy’s tendency to backtrack on comments, labeling him the “most obnoxious blowhard in America.”

In a departure from his previous allegiance to Trump, Christie reserved his most severe criticism for all three opponents, accusing them of being afraid to offend the former president and emphasizing the importance of speaking the truth.

Avoidance of Trump Criticism

While the candidates engaged in intense personal clashes, Chris Christie attempted to refocus the debate by highlighting Trump’s significant lead in the polls. He compared his rivals to characters avoiding saying the name of the villain in the Harry Potter series, suggesting they were hesitant to directly confront Trump.

Christie implied that candidates refrained from criticizing Trump directly to safeguard their chances of becoming his vice presidential nominee or securing future presidential prospects. He emphasized the necessity of telling the truth, even if it meant offending, to avoid denial and secure the party’s success.

DeSantis’ Culture War and Criticism of Haley

DeSantis, known for his “war on woke,” shifted the focus to domestic culture war issues like environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) investing and transgender rights. He used these issues to paint Haley as a moderate, criticizing her stance on gender-affirming care for transgender minors.

DeSantis accused Haley of opposing a bill in Florida to prevent gender mutilation of minors, linking her support from wealthy donors to the ESG investing movement. He argued that these donors sought to impose a left-wing agenda on the country through economic power.

Haley clarified her position, stating that while she believed the law should stay out of it, parents should take the lead in such matters. She emphasized that she did not endorse youth gender transition.

Ramaswamy’s Conspiracy Theories

Vivek Ramaswamy, potentially in his last appearance on a GOP debate stage, embraced extreme conspiracy theories. He asserted that the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack was an “inside job,” claimed the 2020 election was “stolen by Big Tech,” and accused the government of lying about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the 9/11 attacks.

Ramaswamy also endorsed the “great replacement” theory, a racist conspiracy suggesting non-White people are being brought in to replace White voters. He labeled it a basic statement of the Democratic Party platform. In his closing statement, he declared the “climate change agenda” a hoax.

The fourth Republican primary debate showcased intense personal clashes, candidates avoiding direct criticism of Trump, and a divergence into culture war issues. Each contender sought to position themselves as the GOP’s primary alternative, but the evening was marked by memorable confrontations and minimal attention on Trump’s absence from the debate stage.

403 Indian Students Lost Abroad Since 2018: Government Addresses Concerns, Canada Tops List with 91 Fatalities

The government announced on Thursday that 403 Indian students have lost their lives abroad since 2018 due to a variety of reasons, including natural causes, accidents, and medical conditions. Canada has reported the highest number of fatalities among 34 nations, with 91 Indian students succumbing to different circumstances.

Minister of State for External Affairs, V Muraleedharan, provided this information in a written response to a question raised in Rajya Sabha, stating, “According to the information available with the ministry, 403 incidents of death of Indian students abroad have been reported since 2018.” To address the well-being of Indian students studying abroad, heads of mission/post and senior officials engage in regular interactions with universities and educational institutions.

Canada leads the list with 91 reported deaths of Indian students since 2018, followed by the United Kingdom (48), Russia (40), the United States (36), Australia (35), Ukraine (21), Germany (20), Cyprus (14), and Italy and the Philippines (10 each), according to data submitted by the ministry. Minister Muraleedharan emphasized, “The safety and security of Indian students abroad is one of the foremost priorities for the Government of India.”

He assured that Indian missions and posts remain vigilant, closely monitoring the well-being of students. In case of any untoward incident, prompt action is taken by engaging with the authorities of the host country to ensure a thorough investigation and appropriate punishment for the perpetrators. The government is committed to providing comprehensive consular assistance to distressed Indian students, including emergency medical care and lodging, whenever necessary.

Addressing concerns about the high number of student deaths, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi referred to the increasing influx of Indian students into Canada. Bagchi stated during a weekly briefing, “I don’t know if this is an issue that merits taking up with the government. There are individual incidents where there has been foul play and others….Our consulates do reach out to families; we also take up such cases with the local authorities.”

In essence, the government’s response highlights the tragic loss of 403 Indian students abroad since 2018 and the varied causes contributing to these incidents. The emphasis on the safety and security of Indian students, coupled with ongoing efforts by Indian missions and posts, reflects the commitment to addressing concerns and providing assistance in distressing situations.

Minister Muraleedharan’s assurance of swift action and engagement with host country authorities underscores the proactive approach taken to investigate incidents and ensure justice. Additionally, the acknowledgment of the increasing number of Indian students in Canada as a factor in the higher death toll aims to contextualize the statistics and prompt further examination.

The government’s commitment to consular assistance, encompassing medical care and lodging, reaffirms the dedication to supporting distressed Indian students abroad. The complex nature of these incidents, involving various countries and circumstances, underscores the need for continuous monitoring and diplomatic efforts to address challenges faced by Indian students studying overseas.

Exploring the Depths of Spirituality: Insights from Pew Research

The terms “spiritual” and “spirituality” have posed a challenge for researchers and scholars in the realm of religion, defying easy definition. What constitutes being spiritual? Does it entail a sense of wonder, well-being, or peace? Is belief in God or a higher power a prerequisite? These terms appear so elastic that they encompass a myriad of disparate ideas and experiences.

A recent study conducted by Pew Research delves into the meaning of “spiritual” for those who identify with the term, shedding light on the beliefs and practices of individuals who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious.” In their report titled “Spirituality Among Americans,” Pew surveyed over 11,000 people earlier this year, revealing that 7 in 10 U.S. adults describe themselves as spiritual in some way.

The study finds that almost half of respondents identify as both religious and spiritual. This suggests a dual engagement, where individuals participate in religious institutions while also maintaining personal spiritual practices or perspectives outside formal religious traditions. Meanwhile, 22% of U.S. adults identify as “spiritual but not religious,” 21% claim neither spiritual nor religious affiliation, and 10% identify as religious but not spiritual.

The shifting landscape of religious affiliation in the United States has witnessed increased diversity in recent years. While Christianity remains the predominant faith, there has been a rise in the numbers of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and other religious groups. However, there is an overarching trend of declining religious affiliation, indicating a reduced identification with specific religious groups.

Lead Pew researcher Becka Alper notes the ongoing attempt to make sense of this shift, asking, “Is the U.S. public becoming more secular? Are they becoming more spiritual?” The study aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of spiritual beliefs, practices, and experiences.

Key findings from the survey include:

– 83% of all U.S. adults believe in the existence of a soul or spirit alongside the physical body.

– 81% acknowledge the presence of something spiritual beyond the natural world, even if it is imperceptible.

– 74% assert that there are aspects science cannot explain.

– 45% report experiencing a sudden connection with something beyond this world.

– 38% claim to have felt a strong connection with a departed person communicating from beyond.

Regarding the meaning of “spiritual,” the majority (74%) associate it with “being connected to something bigger than myself.” A substantial 70% specify that it means “being connected with God,” while 64% interpret it as “being connected with my true self.” Only 40% equate spirituality with adherence to a specific religious faith. The term also encompasses various other interpretations, such as a connection with nature, other people, deceased loved ones, open-mindedness, or the continuation of family traditions.

A recurring theme across these interpretations is the idea of being “connected.”

Notably, evangelical Christians, predominantly white, and members of historically Black Protestant churches share similar experiences. Both groups overwhelmingly report a deep sense of well-being at least once a month due to their spiritual beliefs and practices, a sentiment less prevalent among other religious groups like Catholics or Mainline Protestants.

In allowing respondents to describe in their own words what being spiritual means, Pew received a diverse range of anonymous responses, including:

– “Being one with your soul, emotions, feelings, actions.”

– “Believing in something larger and more creative than science.”

– “One with the universe!”

– “The belief that a supreme being is the creator of the universe, and that humans’ existence in this realm is transient.”

– “It means having a relationship with God and a belief system that includes a responsibility to do what is right.”

Given that this survey marked the first time Pew posed many of these questions specifically about spirituality, it serves as a baseline rather than establishing trends. Pew plans to continue exploring these themes in subsequent years, offering a deeper understanding of the evolving landscape of religion and spirituality among Americans.

Alleged Hands-On Images of Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Emerge Online

Unverified hands-on images of the rumored Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra have surfaced online, providing a sneak peek into the design of the anticipated flagship smartphone. These images, which have garnered attention from Samsung enthusiasts, showcase the bottom and top edges of the device, hinting at some notable design modifications compared to its predecessor, the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Notably, the leaked visuals reveal a distinctive elongated strip-like design for the bottom speaker on the Galaxy S24 Ultra, setting it apart from its forerunner.

One of the noteworthy alterations is the introduction of 8.6mm thin bezels, marking a slimmer profile when contrasted with the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The bottom edge of the smartphone, as depicted in the leaked images, discloses a SIM tray and microphone, accompanied by a USB Type-C port and a speaker grille. Notably, the speaker grille stands out with its long rectangular strip design, a departure from the six pill-shaped holes seen on the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Additionally, the air vents appear to have been relocated to the top, contributing to a revised aesthetic.

In these purported hands-on images shared by tipster Ice Universe on X (formerly Twitter), a flat design for the S Pen is suggested, introducing a potential shift from the previous model’s design. The right spine of the smartphone reveals the presence of volume rockers and a power button, notable for their increased thickness compared to the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The incorporation of Titanium alloy material is claimed to enhance the device’s texture.

An intriguing revelation from the leaked visuals is the reduced thickness of the Galaxy S24 Ultra, measuring at 8.6mm, in contrast to the 8.9mm body of its predecessor. Despite the detailed insights provided by the leaked images, Samsung has yet to make any official announcements or disclosures regarding the Galaxy S24 Ultra, leaving room for speculation and anticipation among consumers.

Tipster Ice Universe, also known as @UniverseIce, took to X to share these alleged hands-on images, shedding light on the possible design and features of the upcoming flagship smartphone. The images portray a SIM tray, microphone, USB Type-C port, and speaker grille on the bottom edge of the device, emphasizing the distinctive rectangular strip design for the speaker. The relocation of air vents to the top is evident, providing a visual distinction from the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Additionally, the leaked images suggest a flat design for the S Pen, adding a touch of novelty to the potential features of the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

The right side of the smartphone exhibits volume rockers and a power button, with a noticeable increase in thickness compared to the previous model. The incorporation of Titanium alloy material is touted to offer an improved texture for the device, enhancing the overall user experience. The reduction in thickness, down to 8.6mm, is a notable departure from the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 8.9mm body, potentially contributing to a sleeker and more ergonomic design.

Given the absence of official confirmation from Samsung regarding the Galaxy S24 Ultra, it is essential to approach this information with caution, recognizing the speculative nature of these leaks. The hands-on images and details shared by tipster Ice Universe provide an intriguing glimpse into the possible design evolution of Samsung’s flagship handset, yet the veracity of these claims remains unverified until an official announcement is made.

In recent weeks, the Galaxy S24 Ultra has been the subject of numerous speculations and leaks, offering insights into its expected features and specifications. Among the anticipated highlights is a 6.8-inch QHD+ display boasting a 120Hz refresh rate, promising a visually immersive experience for users. The device is rumored to be powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 SoC, paired with 12GB of RAM and storage options ranging from 256GB to 1TB, catering to diverse user preferences.

The imaging capabilities of the Galaxy S24 Ultra are said to include a quad rear camera setup, comprising a remarkable 200-megapixel wide-angle camera, a 12-megapixel ultra wide-angle sensor, a 50-megapixel telephoto camera featuring 5x optical zoom, and a 10-megapixel telephoto sensor with 3x optical zoom. On the front, a 12-megapixel selfie shooter is expected to deliver impressive photography capabilities for users.

To support these advanced features, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is rumored to house a robust 5,000mAh battery, equipped with super-fast charging 2.0 and fast wireless charging 2.0 capabilities. This powerhouse of a battery is anticipated to ensure prolonged usage without compromising on charging speed, aligning with the demands of modern smartphone users.

As the anticipation builds around the potential launch of the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, these leaked images and speculative details contribute to the excitement within the tech community. However, until Samsung officially unveils the device and provides concrete details, it is prudent for consumers and enthusiasts alike to approach these leaks with a level of skepticism, acknowledging the speculative nature of pre-release information.

UN Secretary-General Invokes Rarely Used Article 99 Amid Escalating Gaza Crisis

In a move not seen in decades, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres activated a long-dormant provision known as “Article 99” to raise an alarm about the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza. As the Israeli offensive intensified and civilian casualties mounted, Guterres utilized this rarely exercised power to alert the Security Council of an impending “humanitarian catastrophe” and called for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire.

Article 99, embedded in the United Nations Charter, grants the secretary-general the authority to bring attention to any situation that, in their judgment, may jeopardize international peace and security. Edith M. Lederer, the chief U.N. correspondent for The Associated Press, elucidates the significance of this seldom-invoked provision.

Lederer explains, “It’s a provision of the United Nations Charter, the U.N.’s constitution. It states that the secretary-general — the U.N.’s top diplomat — may bring to the attention of the Security Council ‘any matter which, in his opinion, may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.'” This provision bestows added influence upon the secretary-general, recognizing that ultimate authority at the U.N. lies with its 193 member nations and the 15 countries on the Security Council.

The infrequent use of Article 99 is underscored by its last invocation during the 1971 conflict leading to the creation of Bangladesh. Guterres took this step because he perceives the situation in Gaza as at risk of a “complete collapse” of the humanitarian system and civil order, emphasizing the urgency of his action.

Given the pivotal role of the United States, which holds veto power, the effectiveness of Article 99 remains uncertain. Arab and Islamic nations swiftly responded to Guterres’s plea, with the United Arab Emirates presenting a resolution to the Security Council, urging an immediate humanitarian cease-fire. The resolution is slated for a vote on Friday morning.

However, the U.S., Israel’s staunch ally, has not endorsed a cease-fire. Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood expressed on Tuesday that the Security Council’s role is not to impede ongoing diplomacy in the Israel-Gaza conflict, stating that a resolution at this time “would not be useful.” While this suggests a potential veto, the U.S. has not definitively declared its stance.

Despite the potential for a U.S. veto, Guterres invoked Article 99 due to his concern for the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza. He highlighted in his letter that the territory’s humanitarian system and operations are on the brink of collapse. The ongoing Israeli Defense Forces bombardment, coupled with the lack of shelter and essential supplies, may lead to a breakdown of public order, making even limited humanitarian assistance impossible.

Guterres’s letter also warned of escalating conditions, pointing to the possibility of epidemics and a mass displacement of Palestinians into neighboring countries. He envisions a looming disaster and emphasizes the gravity of the situation. Past secretaries-general have brought threats to international peace and security before the Security Council without specifically invoking Article 99. Instances include Congo in 1960, the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran (1979), the Iran-Iraq war (1980), and Myanmar in 2017.

The reasons for not invoking Article 99 in these cases remain unknown, and many of the former secretaries-general are no longer alive. Guterres, however, has been vocal about both the Hamas attacks on Israel and the alarming death toll of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, underscoring the urgency of international intervention.

Parth Mehta: Navigating Entrepreneurial Peaks, From Startup Triumphs to Corporate Leadership

Parth Mehta ’19 challenges the conventional question of “where do you want to be in five years?” by advocating for a present-focused approach. According to him, instead of fixating on a distant future, one should strive to build for the current moment. When the information technology graduate established Startup Tribes, his initiative aimed at democratizing startup and entrepreneurial support, he relied heavily on sheer determination and an unwavering commitment to achieving nothing less than 100%, with the understanding that the rest would unfold over time.

In the wake of his company’s acquisition by a leading player in startup ecosystem development, Mehta, now 26, lives by the mantra, “At the top of one mountain, is the bottom of the next,” signifying his perpetual quest for new challenges. Despite achieving success at a relatively young age, he remains driven by a willingness to take risks, a characteristic that has defined his journey thus far.

Even after the acquisition, Mehta found himself mentoring and advising founders of high-growth companies in Silicon Valley and New York City, illustrating his relentless commitment to entrepreneurship. His break from this fast-paced lifestyle was a rarity, occurring back in 2017 while he was still a student at NJIT.

For Mehta, embracing the journey with resolute determination and a belief in destined inevitability places one at the pinnacle. He contends that this realm is inhabited by visionary founders, Olympic athletes, and champions in their respective fields—individuals who transform the most challenging dreams into reality. Through meaningful connections with esteemed CEOs and founders, Mehta discovered that excelling in this space requires breaking away from a conventional, run-of-the-mill lifestyle.

As the Senior Leader in Product Management at SS&C Intralinks, a prominent player in virtual data rooms for mergers and acquisitions, Mehta oversees the entire security and compliance product suite. His journey to this role began when the company approached him while he was conducting workshops on entrepreneurial product management skills in Silicon Valley. Despite the role originally being tailored for an expert with over a decade of experience, Mehta’s unique background as both an entrepreneurial leader for a product and an entire tech company set him apart.

Navigating high-pressure situations, handling high-risk tasks, and managing resource constraints while successfully launching products and engaging various stakeholders represent a distinctive skill set that individuals like Mehta bring to the table. Transitioning from a startup to a corporation, he likens the experience to steering a speedboat and then captaining a battleship, where heightened awareness of interdependencies and the potential domino effect of small changes is crucial. Mehta asserts that managing $50 million provides a blueprint for managing $500 million and beyond.

In his role leading the company’s cybersecurity product line, Mehta collaborates closely with senior executives, embodying a strong sense of accountability and ownership. His confidence in delivering results at an age where such responsibility is less common stems from his experience working in highly stressful, high-stakes environments. His extensive subject matter expertise in cybersecurity, coupled with past founder experiences, positions him well to tackle critical challenges with a significant impact.

Despite his success in his 20s, Mehta remains grounded, emphasizing the importance of strong character and moral fiber in navigating adversity. His achievements have not come without sacrifices, as he acknowledges the toll on his internal body clock and the sacrifices made in his social life. Yet, he takes nothing for granted and maintains an outlook centered on gratitude.

Startup Tribes, founded by Mehta at the age of 22, aimed to ‘democratize’ entrepreneurship. In the initial two years, he took no salary, and in the third year, he kept his income below that of a fast-food chain employee, prioritizing the well-being of his staff and company. Working tirelessly, sometimes up to 20 hours a day, he reflects on the intensity of those years with a touch of humor, suggesting that even with a 100-hour work week over four years, he might still be underpaid.

The challenging backdrop of starting a new company during the onset of COVID added to the complexity. However, Mehta, drawing on the mentorship of Suresh U. Kumar, director of entrepreneurial programs at NJIT, navigated these challenges. Kumar’s experience as a serial entrepreneur, including successfully founding a company after 9/11, provided Mehta with valuable insights into building a startup ecosystem during periods of uncertainty.

Startup Tribes initially addressed challenges faced by university entrepreneurship centers, and Mehta secured his first customer based on merit and trust rather than the best pitch deck. As industries shifted to remote operations due to COVID, Mehta adapted, expanding his company’s scope to digitize entrepreneurship support organizations and startup accelerators, ultimately leading to the acquisition in 2022.

Mehta’s accomplishments have come at a cost, impacting his internal body clock and social life. Yet, he values the friendships cultivated, especially with peers over 45 years old who run billion-dollar companies. Despite moments of uncertainty during his company’s evolution, Mehta’s strong character enabled him to navigate extreme hardships.

In prioritizing making a difference over making money, Mehta has consistently adhered to his guiding principle. His decision to forgo a high-paying job on Wall Street right after school in favor of Startup Tribes underscores his commitment to providing resources, access to capital, and tools to underserved entrepreneurs. Beyond his role at Intralinks, Mehta collaborates with Kumar at TiE NJ, chairing the Emerging Entrepreneurs Special Interest Group, dedicated to helping young founders and first-time entrepreneurs acquire tangible skills in their initial startup years.

Mehta’s perspective embodies an ongoing journey of personal and professional evolution, marked by a willingness to embrace criticism and feedback for skill refinement, character development, and moral compass alignment. His resounding philosophy emphasizes contentment with the present coexisting with an unwavering pursuit of excellence, aiming for a life free of regrets.

Final GOP Presidential Debate Unveils Intense Battle Between Haley and DeSantis for Trump Alternative, as Christie Defies Calls to Bow Out

The final GOP presidential debate of the year unfolded on Wednesday, featuring prominent figures such as Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Chris Christie, and Vivek Ramaswamy. Hosted by NewsNation, a sister news organization of The Hill, the two-hour event in Tuscaloosa, Ala., became a stage where Haley and DeSantis vied to solidify their positions behind former President Trump, who opted to skip the debate once again. Moderators Elizabeth Vargas, Megyn Kelly, and Eliana Johnson pressed the candidates on Trump, casting his shadow over the proceedings. CNN has also announced plans to host two Republican primary debates in January.

Haley, the former United Nations ambassador, found herself under the spotlight as the potential second-tier candidate to beat. Threatening to overshadow DeSantis as the leading Trump alternative, Haley faced challenges from DeSantis and Ramaswamy during the debate. However, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie came to her defense, rebuffing Ramaswamy’s insults with a firm stance, declaring, “stop insulting her.” Despite the scrutiny, Haley maintained her composure, expressing gratitude for the attention and asserting her neck-and-neck position with DeSantis in recent Iowa caucus polls.

DeSantis, the Governor of Florida, emerged as a winner in the debate, delivering a strong performance that injected new momentum into his campaign. Responding to questions about his low poll numbers, DeSantis dismissed the polls, highlighting his landslide reelection in Florida last year and criticizing Haley for allegedly succumbing to pressure. Once considered a shoo-in alternative to Trump, DeSantis now faces a challenge from Haley’s rising popularity, leaving the primary outcome uncertain.

Chris Christie, despite facing calls to exit the race, demonstrated resilience within the GOP field. Taking a bold stance against Trump, Christie labeled him a “dictator” and a “bully,” urging fellow candidates to denounce the former president. In Alabama, Christie unequivocally stated, “His conduct is unacceptable. He’s unfit, and be careful of what you’re gonna get.” Christie’s refusal to back down showcased his determination to maintain relevance in the crowded GOP race.

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, whose favorability among voters continues to decline, utilized the prime-time platform to launch personal attacks and promote conspiracy theories. His performance, including a scribbled note targeting Haley, drew strong reactions from the audience. Christie, in a memorable moment, called out Ramaswamy, saying, “This is the fourth debate that you would be voted in the first 20 minutes as the most obnoxious blowhard in America, so shut up for a while.”

Even in his absence, former President Trump loomed large as a dominant force. Trump’s decision to skip all debates has not diminished his lead in the primary field. The day before the crucial debate, he made headlines with comments during a Fox News town hall, where he asserted that he would not act as a dictator except on day one. While Haley and DeSantis compete for second place in recent polls, with Haley at 10 percent and DeSantis at 11 percent, Trump maintains a commanding 60-point lead over the field.

ITServe Leadership Welcomes H-1B Visa Renewal Program Benefitting IT Professionals

ITServe Alliance, with an active membership of 2,200 + members who are small & medium-sized prestigious IT service companies, with similar interests across the United States, has expressed its overwhelming support for the new U.S. State Department’s Pilot Domestic Visa Renewal Program, limited to H1B Visas, which is launched in December of this year, mainly benefiting Information Technology professionals.

The pilot initiative by the U.S. State Department aims to alleviate long wait times for visa appointments, initially issuing 20,000 visas to foreign nationals already in the US in the IT sector with their significant skilled workforce presence.

Highlights of the H-1B Visa Renewal Program:

> The Pilot Visa Renewal Program aims to have around 20,000 work visa renewals, constituting approximately 10% of the anticipated 583,420 H-1B visa holders.

> The program will reduce the waiting period, ease the process of renewals, and eradicate the need for individuals to go back to their home country for appointments.

> Presently, visa applicants must wait for an average period of 130 days for appointments in their home country. Moreover, individuals are restricted from traveling abroad until their visa has been renewed every three years.

> The streamlined renewal process also intends to free up valuable time for US missions abroad to concentrate on new candidates.

> A formal notice in the U.S. Federal Register will be published this month and it will detail the procedures, requirements, and guidelines for the first round of applicants, covering 20,000 cases from December to February. This will pave the way for the State Department’s plan to extend the program for more employment categories in 2024.

Lobby Day ITServeIn the past few years, ITServe leadership has continuously reiterated the need for a Domestic Visa Renewal Program with the US Congress and Department of State officials. ITServe has expressed gratitude and appreciation to Department of State for listening to its request and now bringing back this program.

“The U.S. needs to maintain its leadership in technology and innovation,” Vinay Mahajan, ITServe Alliance President said. “The U.S. has a large skills gap – availability of workers vs the openings for talent in the IT sector. We need the brightest minds from all over the world to keep our wide lead in technology and innovation.This new initiative is a good step to achieve this goal. ”

A major objective of ITServe has been to educate lawmakers and the larger American community, using digital and traditional methods on the benefits of favorable immigration programs to businesses and eliminate misconceptions by meeting, collaborating, and lobbying with Congressmen and Senators to work together and help write and amend laws that are helpful to ITServe community.

Vinod Babu Uppu, ITServe Governing Board Chair said, “I want to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to the hundreds of ITServe members, who continue to advocate with their local Lawmakers on behalf of ITServe, and make our voices heard on the corridors of power.”

H-1Bs are temporary, nonimmigrant visas for foreign workers with at least a bachelor’s degree, and they often go to technology workers. Currently, the number of H-1B visas is limited to 65,000 each year, although there are an additional 20,000 available to workers who have a master’s degree or higher from a US university. Enhancing the current H1-B CAP limits – from 65,000 to 130,000 per year has been a major area where ITServe has placed its efforts in recent years.

Lobby Day 2ITServe is aware that H-1B visa holders play a critical role in bolstering the U.S. economy, fostering innovation, and enriching the fabric of American society through their skills, contributions, and diverse backgrounds, and knowledge to American workplaces. They facilitate knowledge transfer and skills development by engaging in research and development activities, particularly in STEM fields, which contribute to scientific advancements and technological progress.

H-1B visa holders, possessing specialized skills and expertise in fields like STEM, which are vital for American companies to stay competitive in the global market, are a highly skilled foreign workers pool that brings numerous benefits to the United States. They fill in critical skill gaps in the labor market, contributing to economic growth and innovation, thus leading to increased productivity and competitiveness in various industries, by creating new job opportunities by starting businesses and driving entrepreneurship.

High-Skilled Immigration Reform for Employment (HIRE) Act, introduced by US Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois covers the above increase. The Bill would strengthen U.S. competitiveness by helping to close the skills gap – the space between the skills required for jobs that employers need to fill, and the skills possessed by current prospective employees.

Lobby Day 3ITServe leadership believes that immigration laws are becoming more inclusive, which is a positive development with a 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.

“ITServe Alliance will continue to support and advocate for immigration reforms that will help America maintain its tech leadership in the world,” said Siva Moopanar, Director of ITServe Alliance Policy Advocacy Committee (PAC).

Founded in 2010, ITServe’s vision has been to empower local communities by creating, retaining, and fostering employment opportunities within the United States. Moreover, ITServe is committed to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and actively contributing to local communities nationwide, particularly in the realm of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education. For more details, please visit: www.itserve.org

Hopes And Expectations From COP28: The World Is At A Tipping Point On Climate Change

What happens in COP28 on Dubai’s climate conference battleground in the first half of December 2023 may not result in bloodshed but its consequences could be drenched in blood, mass migration, and starvation.

Happily, about 70,000 participants including political leaders, diplomats, business managers, academicians, and researchers will be participating in COP28. The COP -Conference of Parties – is held annually by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This is the 28th COP scheduled to start in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, known as the expo-city, ever happy to welcome tourists and visitors.

Hopes And Expectations From COP28 (Yahoo)
Picture: Yahoo

Sadly, it is the time when the number of battlegrounds around the world is on the rise without any end in sight! Ukraine and Russia in northern Europe; Israel and Palestine in the Middle East; internal wars in Syria, Sudan and Sahel. United Nations Security Council, which is charged with ensuring international peace and security, continues the efforts to stall the battles but has not succeeded in ensuring the peace.

One more battleground, on the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, is opening from 30th November to 12th December in the expo-city of Dubai. The battleground will be over on 12th December, but the planetary-level war will certainly continue. It has the potential to be termed World War III, the war between humanity and nature. The UN Security Council is not charged to even start a dialogue for a ceasefire and making peace in that war.  It is left to Bonn, Germany-based UNFCCC to fight the cause of WWII!

Categorically, all humans to varying degrees are responsible for starting and continuing this war. The choice of path to human development has now caused nearly irreversible damage to nature. It is the turn of nature now to hit back. Nature is reacting by causing droughts, floods, landslides, and wildfires that have started affecting human society across the borders of the countries. The hostages are poor of the world and they are rising in numbers.

World caught in a vicious cycle of chaos

As per a UN report released this year, extreme weather has caused the deaths of two million people and $4.3 trillion in economic damage over the past 50 years. The tragedy is that the poor suffer the most in extreme weather. Rich people have economic muscles, not only to ensure their survival but continue their onslaught on nature by emitting greenhouse gases. The richest one percent of the global population is responsible for the same amount of carbon emissions as the world’s poorest two-thirds, or five billion people, according to the research results released in  November 2023. The worst is that rich people continue to invest their money more in polluting industries.

The planet is caught in a vicious circle of chaos in which even the rich would perish. We do not know when but perish they will. Because the rich depend on the market consisting of these five billion people to make their money. As the market starts suffering the rich would suffer too! As the doomsday scenario says, ‘sixth planetary extinction’ is on the way. The fifth extinction was 65 million years ago when dinosaurs and the ecosystem vanished.

To use the United Nations term used in Agenda 21, rather sarcastically, ‘No one is left behind’ by nature in its climate onslaught. And nature has been literally ‘inclusive’ in the destruction of human habitats!  But let us not make a mistake, this larger war is also the result of the battles between factions. Factions include global south and global north, developed and developing countries. The list of factions also includes small-island-developing countries (SIDS), least developed countries (LDCs), indigenous groups, powerful fossil fuel businesses, farmers, and so on.

What happens in COP28 on Dubai’s climate conference battleground in the first half of December 2023 may not result in bloodshed but its consequences could be drenched in blood, mass migration, and starvation. COP after COP, the post-Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, the pledges and promises made by 198 countries that are party to climate conventions. 195 countries that are Parties to the Paris Climate Agreement committed through Nationally Determined Contributions NDCs to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. What is more, the commitments are made by the developed countries to provide USD 100 billion to the developing countries for reducing emissions. But the promises and pledges are not met, and implementation is not only slow but miserable and inadequate and almost suicidal.

The decade from 2010 to 2019 had the highest increase in greenhouse gas emissions in human history; the last four months of 2023 are the hottest on record; the last 11 months have caused the highest economic losses due to extreme climate events. The window to limit warming to 1.5°C, the target set by the world leaders in the Paris Climate Agreement, is rapidly closing; and the gap between where emissions should be and where they are is widening fast as per the UNEP Emission Gap Report (EGR) released recently.

So what one should expect from 2023

Experts have stated over the last year the expectations: strong action-oriented negotiations; making mitigation and adaptation finance available to developing countries as a matter of emergency; operationalizing loss and damage fund; focussing on non-CO2 greenhouse gases like methane; community-based and sub-national climate actions; undertaking out-of-box technologies, including carbon dioxide removal (CDR); space reflected solar electricity and so on.

And what is NOT expected from COP28

Firstly, the world is not expecting non-verified claims by countries, particularly by world leaders in COP28. Such claims promote greenwashing – misleading the public to believe that climate action is being taken for net zero. There is more risk from greenwashing than the climate crisis itself, as stated by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Secondly, the world is NOT  expecting that the vital issues related to mitigation, adaptation and finance are sidelined and duped by conned climate diplomacy. Recently, we have witnessed commotions like denouncing UAE’s presidency as ‘oil nation’s presidency’; prioritizing the action on mitigating fugitive methane by ignoring the reduction of emissions of carbon dioxide; including private finance in meeting the governmental public finance pledge of USD100 billion annually from 2020; asking China to contribute to the finances to developing countries; prioritizing carbon-offset;  changing the definitions of developing countries to ‘least-developing-countries; uncertain schemes like carbon-trading and carbon removal by overlooking the mitigation through lifestyle change.

Thirdly, the world is NOT expecting speeches by world leaders with deceptive declarations and diplomacy-coated false promises delivered in the COP. In this context decision of President Joe Biden not to attend COP28 is indeed welcome. Better not to be there than tricking the world with fake pledges!

Fourthly, the world is NOT expecting alternative technologies like battery-operated EVs and solar panels to be considered climate-friendly unless the environmentally friendly reuse, recycling and disposal of panels and batteries are integral parts of such technologies.

Fifthly, the world is not expecting the issue of climate justice to be discussed without historical context. Recently, the report has revealed that carbon emissions during colonial rules of Europeans and Japanese were assigned to the countries that were engaged in colonial rules after the industrial revolutions. The world, in this context, is not expecting to keep the International Court of Justice excluded from the issue of climate crimes during World War III. Punitive measures could range from exposing the countries by ‘naming and shaming’ to more serious ‘climate-sanctions’.

Can Dubai succeed in meeting these expectations? Let us wait to see by the end of COP28 if the negotiators are serious about delivering what the world is expecting and also not expecting.

(The author is a noted environmentalist, former Director UNEP, and Founder Director, Green TERRE Foundation, Pune, India. Views are personal)

Read more at: https://www.southasiamonitor.org/spotlight/hopes-and-expectations-cop28-world-tipping-point-climate-change

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.

Pope Francis Urges World Religions To Unite Against Environmental Devastation

(Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Sunday that it was essential for all world religions to unite in opposing the “rapacious” devastation of the environment.

The 86-year-old pope had planned to preside at the opening of the Faith Pavilion at the C0P28 climate conference in Dubai but a lung inflammation forced him to remain in the Vatican.

Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin read the pope’s message in his place, as he did with Francis’ main address to the conference on Saturday.

“Religions, as voices of conscience for humanity, remind us that we are finite creatures, possessed of a need for the infinite,” the pope said, noting that a Faith Pavilion was a first at a COP conference.

“For we are indeed mortal, we have our limits, and protecting life also entails opposing the rapacious illusion of omnipotence that is devastating our planet,” he said.

Pope Francis Urges World Religions To Unite Against Environmental Devastation (NCR)
Picture: NCR

Religions, he said, “need, urgently, to act for the sake of the environment”, educate their members to “sober and fraternal lifestyles” instead of wasteful ones and work for a return to the individual contemplation of nature’s grandeur.

“This is an essential obligation for religions, which are called to teach contemplation, since creation is not only an ecosystem to preserve, but also a gift to embrace,” Francis said.

“A world poor in contemplation will be a world polluted in soul, a world that will continue to discard people and produce waste,” he said.

In his main address to the conference on Saturday, Francis repeated his call for the elimination of fossil fuels.

Hundreds of Catholic institutions around the globe have announced plans to divest from them.

But a Reuters investigation found that in the United States, the world’s top oil and gas producer and where about a quarter of the population is Catholic, not a single diocese has announced it has let go of its fossil fuel assets.

In his address to faith leaders, Francis also said peace and stewardship of the planet were interdependent.

“Before our very eyes, we can see how wars and conflicts are harming the environment and dividing nations, hindering a common commitment to addressing shared problems like the protection of the planet,” he said

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Ambassador Garcetti Describes U.S-India Relationship As “Multiplicative, Not Additive”

The United States Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti, said that the United States views India as a “strategic partner” and “crucial player” in the “global discussion” to help resolve critical issues and usher in lasting peace.

The ambassador highlighted the increasing cooperation between the two countries under various initiatives. Speaking at a session organized by the Observer Research Foundation on the recently held India- US 2+2 Ministerial dialogue and the road ahead, Garcetti said that a large part of the discussions focused on peace.

“I think the joint statements reflect that both countries resolved to promote a resilient, rules- based international order to safeguard free, open, inclusive Indo Pacific through the Quad, and other mechanisms,” he said.

Featured & Cover Ambassador Garcetti Describes U S India Relationship As “Multiplicative Not Additive”“On global issues, the ministers discussed the tragic humanitarian consequences of the conflict in Ukraine and in the Middle East, reiterating their stance with Israel against terrorism, but also seeking to alleviate civilian suffering and adherence to international humanitarian law,” he added.

“The importance of it continues even in the most challenging modern times, that we are faced, with two wars globally, among others, with tensions diplomatically, with economic challenges. That the United States continues to prioritize India and that India continues to prioritize the United States speaks volumes, first and foremost, of the friendship that underpins our relationship, and the importance that we place upon this relationship.”

The ambassador highlighted the increasing cooperation between the two countries, under initiatives like  the Roadmap for U.S.- India Industrial Cooperation, U.S.- India Defense Acceleration Ecosystem, and the U.S. India Initiative on Critical Emerging Technology, or iCET.

“The 2+2 was still centered as something critical, important, and that he wanted to do speaks volumes of this relationship.  Secretary Blinken had engaged with counterparts across the Middle east and in the Indo Pacific before coming here, to make headway on some of the world’s most urgent issues and I think that positioned him for a very good discussion with his Indian friends here. And New Delhi’s inclusion in this ambitious diplomatic agenda is a clear sign not just of India’s importance to us as America, but also to the global conversation, at a moment when we need to continue to have Indian leadership in the world,” the Ambassador pointed out.

“Our countries discussed ways to deepen our science and our technology partnerships to harness technology for the global good instead of technology that harms us and divides us, technology that can connect us and protect us. And these efforts are moving forward at a record-breaking speed under iCET,” he asserted.

Highlighting the recent collaborations between high ranking officials between the two nations, he pointed to how “a little over a week ago, we welcomed Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin here. It was Secretary Austin’s third time in India, second this year, and Secretary Blinken’s third time this year alone. There are all sorts of metrics I point out to, like for instance, our Secretary of Treasury, Jan Yellen. This was the number one country she went to in the world, outside of the United States, four times. And this is unprecedented, to see the level of engagement of higher-level officials from both sides in each other’s countries.”

The ambassador asked, “How do you build, sustain, establish peace in the world? And how can we have durable peace that the United States and India work on across the world in the face of new and existing threats? And by those threats, I don’t just mean war. A peace that’s threatened by health challenges, by climate challenges, by poverty, by perceived or real divisions between geography, North, South, East, West. The joint statements reflect that both countries resolved to promote a resilient, rules- based international order to safeguard free, open, inclusive Indo Pacific through the Quad, and other mechanisms.”

On US investment in India, Garcetti said he looks forward to welcoming additional visitors around December and January on the iCET themes, which will be a major investment in Indian technology by US private companies.

In conclusion, he said that the US-India 2+2 is deeper than a usual bilateral meeting. “Increasingly, the United States and India really see each other as collaborators in figuring out the global architecture and the global solutions to some of the toughest things that we face, and that work to promote peace, to promote more prosperity, to protect our planet and our people,” the Ambassador noted.

Shahina K.K Receives CPJ International Press Freedom Award

Shahina K.K, an Indian journalist was among the four recipients of the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) International Press Freedom Awards. The awards ceremony held in New York City was chaired by Meredith Kopit Levien, president and CEO of The New York Times Company, who recognized Shahina for her undying commitment to journalism despite facing legal challenges and harassment. She has dedicated her career to shedding light on critical issues such as gender, human rights, and marginalized communities.

Shahina, also known as Shahini Nafeesa is a veteran Indian journalist who has worked across print and broadcast media to shed light on issues such as gender, human rights, and marginalized communities, along with the injustices they face. CPJ has been documenting the myriad ways in which she has been attacked and intimidated since at least 2010.

Shahina, currently a senior editor for Outlook magazine, was one of the first journalists in India to be charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or UAPA, a draconian anti-terror law extensively weaponized against journalists in the country for over a decade.

She has continued her reporting in various posts despite awaiting trial for a case opened in 2010, when localShahina K K Receives CPJ International Press Freedom Award 2 government officials in Karnataka state sought to criminalize her reporting published in Tehelka, a prominent investigative magazine where she worked at the time. Her report cast doubt on a police investigation into 2008 bomb blasts in Bengaluru, alleging that the police had fabricated witness statements to arrest a local Muslim cleric.

She faces three charges under the penal code, including criminal intimidation, intent to commit a criminal act, and criminal conspiracy, and one count under UAPA pertaining to threatening witnesses. As of June 2023, Shahina is out on bail pending trial. If convicted, she faces a maximum of three years in prison and a fine.

A Muslim by birth, Shahina has also been subjected to extensive harassment by Indian right-wing groups seeking to silence her reporting on religious minorities and vulnerable caste groups. She has faced persistent online harassment and lewd threats, and in 2020, several right-wing publications falsely implicated her in that Bengaluru bombing.

Based in Kochi, in the southern state of Kerala, Shahina has worked as a reporter, production associate, and news anchor with well-known news outlets including Asianet News, Janayugom, Open, and The Federal. She also has contributed to The Washington Post.

By honoring Shahina with this year’s IPFA, CPJ shines a spotlight on India’s increasingly repressive environment for press freedom, with the targeting of journalists under draconian security laws, and toxic online campaigns particularly aimed at vilifying women journalists and ethnic or religious minorities.

Shahina stands out as one of the first journalists in India to face charges under a draconian anti-terror law. Despite the ongoing trial since 2010, she has continued reporting on exposing injustices and holding authorities accountable. nThe case against Shahina stems from her reporting on a questionable police investigation, where local government officials sought to criminalize her work. As of June 2023, Shahina is out on bail, awaiting trial. If convicted, she could face up to three years in prison with an additional fine.

Besides being held in court, Shahina has been subjected to harassment by political groups in India. These groups have reportedly tried to suppress her reporting on religious minorities and vulnerable caste groups. The International Press Freedom Award acknowledged Shahina’s resilience in the face of adversity, honoring her dedication to the principles of free and unbiased journalism.

Shahina is the fourth Indian to achieve this recognition, with notable contributions to OPEN magazine, Tehelka, and Asianet News. She was awarded the Chameli Devi Jain Award for Outstanding Women Mediapersons in 2011. Moreover, she was an activist in the 2014 fight against moral policing, the ‘Kiss of Love’ movement.

In her acceptance speech, Shahina said, “As time went on I made a conscious effort to derive more from my courtroom experiences. I met many people who had unusual encounters with the legal system, with a significant number of them being victims of fabricated cases. This resulted in a series of articles that illuminated the challenges endured by the marginalized population in the state of Karnataka in India. As I sought to understand legal abuse, I pursued a law degree ultimately I earned.”

SRK Tops IMDb List Of 2023’s Most Popular Indian Stars

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan is leading the pack in the 2023 IMDb top 10 list of most popular Indian stars. In 2023, the Badshah of Bollywood gave two major blockbusters, Jawan and Pathaan, which are respectively the No. 2 and 3 biggest Hindi movies ever worldwide.

Riding high on the back-to-back success of “Pathaan” and “Jawan”, superstar Shah Rukh Khan has emerged as numero uno on IMDb’s top 10 list of most popular Indian stars of 2023, which is otherwise dominated by female stars like Alia Bhatt, Deepika Padukone and Wamiqa Gabbi.

IMDb has announced its list of the year’s most popular Indian stars, with Shah Rukh Khan landing in first place. IMDb determines the star rankings by page views worldwide. Scroll down for the full list.

Also making the cut high on the list are Alia Bhatt and Deepika Padukone. Bhatt, whose credits include Oscar winner RRR, this year starred in Netflix’s Heart of Stone with Gal Gadot and Jamie Dornan, and Karan Johar’s Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani.

SRK Tops IMDb List Of 2023’s Most Popular Indian Stars (The Hindu)
Picture: The Hindu

Veteran actress Padukone was seen this year with Shah Rukh Khan in both Jawan and Pathaan. On deck, she has Siddharth Anand’s Fighter also starring Hrithik Roshan, and Rohit Shetty’s Singham Again with Akshay Kumar (who appears at No. 9 on the list released today).

Alia said: “I thank my audience for bringing me to the position that I am at. While I hope to continue entertaining them, I am filled with only love and gratitude. I also promise to keep working hard and bringing more inspiring stories and characters on screen.”

In the fourth position is actress Wamiqa Gabbi, who said: “This is my debut on the IMDb Most Popular Indian Stars list, and I am delighted! The fact that IMDb represents the sentiment of the global audience makes this even more special for me. I’ve had a busy year working across genres and languages, and it makes me happy and grateful that my fans have appreciated that. I look forward to working with the same dedication on my upcoming projects and returning the love showered upon me,” she added.

The talented actress has had an outstanding year, marked by the success of four massively popular projects that have firmly established her as one of the most sought-after new faces in the entertainment industry. Wamiqa has showcased her versatility, leaving audiences and critics alike calling her one of the most promising new talents that has made it big in 2023.

Notably, Wamiqa has emerged as a powerful force, trailing only behind the trio of Shah Rukh Khan, Alia Bhatt and Deepika Padukone. Her meteoric rise in 2023 has solidified her status, with fans eagerly anticipating her every move.

“I am truly humbled and elated to find myself among the esteemed names on IMDb’s Annual 10 Most Popular Celebrities List for 2023. This journey has been nothing short of a dream, and the love and support from audiences around the world have been overwhelming. This year has been a whirlwind of opportunities and learning, and I am immensely grateful for the chance to collaborate with incredibly talented individuals and especially all my directors. To be ranked as the 4th most popular celebrity of the year is both an honor and a responsibility,” said an elated Wamiqa.

She added, “This is my debut on the IMDb Most Popular Indian Stars list, and I am delighted! The fact that IMDb represents the sentiment of the global audience makes this even more special for me. From Vishal Bhardwaj’s spy thriller Khufiya and detective drama Charlie Chopra & the Mystery of Solang Valley and Vikramaditya Motwane’s period drama Jubilee, to the heartwarming web series Modern Love Chennai, and as well as the Punjabi film Kali Jotta, I’ve had a busy year working across genres and languages, and it makes me happy and grateful that my fans have appreciated that. I look forward to working with the same dedication on my upcoming projects and returning the love showered upon me.”

Looking ahead to 2024, Wamiqa shows no signs of slowing down, gearing up for her next venture alongside Varun Dhawan in a film produced by Atlee. Additionally, she is set to star in Shiddat 2 and a major South Indian project titled Genie. With this promising lineup ahead, Wamiqa is poised to continue her ascent as one of the industry’s brightest new stars.

Shah Rukh’s “Jawan” co-stars Nayanthara, who features in the fifth spot, and Vijay Sethupathi also feature in the list. Nayanthara made her Hindi cinema debut with the movie, while Sethupathi (who is on number 10) was the main antagonist. He also played a cop in the Prime Video series “Farzi”.

Nayanthara, Tamannaah Bhatia, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Sobhita Dhulipala are placed on the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth spots respectively. Then comes Bollywood’s ‘Khiladi’ Akshay Kumar, who stands ninth. After Akshay, in the tenth spot is star Vijay Sethupathi.

All the three stars had major wins on streaming platforms — Tamannaah in “Lust Stories 2”, Kareena in “Jaane Jaan” and Sobhita in “Made in Heaven 2”.

Actor Akshay Kumar’s much-discussed cameo in “OMG 2”, “Mission Raniganj” and “Selfiee” helped him land in the ninth spot on the ranking by the website, a go-to place for information on movies, TV and celebrities.

“From Shah Rukh Khan’s return to the big screen with two blockbusters, to Alia Bhatt starring in international thriller ‘Heart of Stone’, the IMDb Most Popular Indian Stars of 2023 list reveals the Indian stars who generated the most fan excitement and engagement across the IMDb global audience this year,” said Yaminie Patodia, head of IMDb India, in a statement.

“Our unique year-end top 10 list is compiled based on the page views of hundreds of millions of fans globally who rely on IMDb to discover, decide what to watch, and learn more about their favorite stars,” Patodia added.

Bhatt, who came in second after her “Dear Zindagi” co-star Shah Rukh, thanked her fans.

“The IMDb Most Popular Indian Stars of 2023 list reveals the Indian stars that generated the most fan excitement and engagement across the IMDb global audience this year,” said Yaminie Patodia, head of IMDb India. “Our unique year-end top 10 list is compiled based on the page views of hundreds of millions of fans globally who rely on IMDb to discover, decide what to watch, and learn more about their favorite stars.”

IMDb Top 10 Most Popular Indian Stars of 2023

  1. Shah Rukh Khan
  2. Alia Bhatt
  3. Deepika Padukone
  4. Wamiqa Gabbi
  5. Nayanthara
  6. Tamannaah Bhatia
  7. Kareena Kapoor Khan
  8. Sobhita Dhulipala
  9. Akshay Kumar
  10. Vijay Sethupathi

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.

Nine Indians On ‘TIME’s 100 Climate’ List

The Times has published its annual list of influential business executives who have embedded climate goals into their initiatives. Nine prominent leaders hailing from India have been named to the ‘Time 100 Climate’, the magazine’s first-ever list of the world’s most influential leaders driving business to real climate action.

The list, which includes CEOs, founders, philanthropists, musicians, policymakers and government officials from across the world, comes ahead of the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference, scheduled to take place in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from November 30.

“It’s fair to say climate leadership is ­embedded across all of our coverage today. But we believe more could be done to draw attention to the people who are shaping and leading climate action,” Time said, releasing the list last week.

Ajay Banga, who assumed the role of president of the World Bank Group in June, has been named one of the 100 Most Influential Climate Leaders in Business for 2023. Speaking at the 2023 World Bank Group-IMF Annual Meetings in Morocco, Banga stated, “If you can’t breathe and you can’t drink clean water, there’s very little point in eradicating poverty.”

In October 2023, Banga highlighted the urgency of the situation, stating, “Time is of the essence.” His commitment to aligning financial incentives and loans with climate-friendly initiatives shows a proactive approach to tackling global challenges. Banga works for a sustainable and equitable future.

Geeta Aiyer, founder of Boston Common Asset Management, is among the five Indian Americans on the list. Leading a firm with over $5 billion in assets, Aiyer works to address biodiversity loss and invest in earth renewal. Emphasizing their impact on global food supply, water access, and technology development, Aiyer called for swift government legislation to guide corporate company policies. Moreover, she also stressed the intersectionality of climate change and human rights, urging activists to advocate for stricter policies.

Nine Indians On ‘TIME’s 100 Climate’ List

Rajiv J. Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation, spearheaded climate-focused initiatives. Notably, the foundation launched the Coal to Clean Credit Initiative, aiming to shift from coal to renewable energy in emerging economies.

Rajiv advocated for expanding access to renewable electricity, emphasizing its potential to improve lives and avert a climate crisis. He urges climate activism to prioritize vulnerable populations and calls for wealthy countries to fulfill and exceed their climate financing commitments.

Jigar Shah, Director of the U.S. Department of Energy Loan Programs Office, led the public investment of hundreds of billions into clean infrastructure and energy projects. He works to meet the 2030 climate goals using cost-effective technologies.

Moreover, Jigar tries to implement solutions that save money. He also identified climate technologies deserving more attention and funding, including enhanced geothermal, low-impact hydro, small modular nuclear reactors, carbon sequestration, hydrogen, and long-duration energy storage.

Manoj Sinha, CEO of Husk Power Systems, made it on the list. He achieved profitability with 200 minigrids across Asia and Africa. Advocating for long-term systemic change, he calls for a carbon tax, corporate emission offsets, and investor support for renewable innovations.

Nine Indians On ‘TIME’s 100 Climate’ List 2

Sinha emphasizes solarizing the agricultural value chain and underscores the need for a uniform carbon tax, considering cumulative emissions and societal equity. His vision reflects a holistic approach to sustainable solutions.

Sanjayan is a conservation scientist and CEO of Conservation International (CI), a non-profit working with governments and companies to conserve nature, primarily in the Global South.

Sanjayan’s skills as a science communicator have helped CI facilitate powerful partnerships for environmental protection.

The organisation created the Restore Fund in 2021 alongside Apple, which this year pledged $200 million in additional funding to support nature-based carbon removal technologies.

Seema Wadhwa is executive director for environmental stewardship for Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest health care providers in the US.

By 2050, it aims to be net zero. Under Wadhwa’s leadership, this year Kaiser Permanente’s office in Santa Rosa, California, was recognised as the country’s first net-zero medical facility.

Amit Kumar Sinha is managing director and CEO of Mahindra Lifespaces, the real estate and infrastructure development arm of Indian conglomerate company Mahindra Group.

Since 2013, Mahindra Lifespaces says it has had an entirely green portfolio, prioritizing water efficiency, passive energy design, renewables, and more.

In January of 1938, TIME’s editors considered how the sun might become a future energy source. A year later, TIME observed that scientists were seeing evidence of a warming planet. In 1953, TIME cautioned that an “invisible blanket” of greenhouse gases, at its present rate of increase, would “raise the earth’s average temperature 1.5° Fahrenheit every 100 years.”

The term ­climate change, as we currently understand it, was first used by TIME when the editors named the “Endangered Planet” the Person of the Year for 1988.

Much great work engaging with the climate story has been created by TIME journalists in the years since, and this year is no exception. It’s fair to say climate leadership is ­embedded across all of our coverage today. But we believe more could be done to draw attention to the people who are shaping and leading climate action. That is why we’ve created the inaugural TIME100 Climate list.

The TIME100 Climate is not only a community, it is an argument for how we see the future: we are recognizing those who are connecting climate action and business value, because we believe progress for the planet will come from the engagement with and leadership by the business world.

To assemble this list, TIME tried to capture the latest economic and scientific thinking by selecting individuals who are leading change across five critical areas: energy, nature, finance, culture, and health. Our reporters, editors, and colleagues at TIMECO2 sought out measurable, scalable achievements and prioritized recent action.

“Our hope is that decades from now, the creation of the TIME100 Climate will be seen as another watershed moment for TIME and our coverage of the planet,” Time wrote. .

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.”

Nicaragua’s Sheynnis Palacios Crowned Miss Universe 2023 In History-Making Contest

In a histroy making beauty pageant, Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios won the coveted Miss Universe 2023 title, beating her 83 coconstaentans from as many countries during a dazzling pageant on November 18th, 2023 in San Salvador, El Salvador. Tis is the first time ever in the 72 year-old history of the pageant, a conteststant from Nicaragua, a central American country has won the covetetd ttile.

Palacios, 23, a mental-health activist and audiovisual producer, became the first woman from Nicaragua to win the crown at Saturday night’s pageant. The organization shared on Instagram that the new winner copes with anxiety and launched a TV segment called “Understand Your Mind,” in which she interviews experts in emotional care.

Last year’s winner, Miss Universe and Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel crowned Palacios with the prestigious crown. The 23-year-old, a TV host and model, beat first runner-up Anntonia Porsild from Thailand and second runner-up Moraya Wilson from Australia. The other contestants who made the top 10 to appear in the final were Colombia’s Camila Avella, El Salvador’s Isabella García-Manzo, Peru’s Camila Escribens, the Philippines’ Michelle Dee, Puerto Rico’s Karla Guilfú Acevedo, Spain’s Athenea Pérez and Venezuela’s Diana Silva.

Palacios appeared to secure the win when she confidently answered the question of which woman’s shoes would she like to spend a year in by saying Mary Wollstonecraft, the 18th-century English writer and philosopher. Wollstonecraft was an advocate of women’s rights and is considered one of the forerunners of feminism. Palacios said she wants to work to close the salary gap between the genders so that women can work in any area.

Miss Universe was last held in El Salvador in 1975. This year’s event was another opportunity for President Nayib Bukele to tout changes made under his administration, especially greatly improving the country’s safety.

“El Salvador has changed for good and we have shown it again,” Bukele said Saturday night. “Miss Universe has given us the opportunity to show the world what we are capable of. Thank you for choosing to be part of El Salvador’s rebirth.”

Shweta Sharda, who had represented India at this year’s Miss Universe pageant did not make it to the top 10. Shweta – a 23-year-old model from Chandigarh – won the prestigious Miss Diva Universe title this year. Shweta made Mumbai her home with her mother at the age of 16 to make a career in modelling. Shweta has made silverscreen appearances on several reality shows. She has appeared in Dance India Dance, Dance Deewane, and Dance Plus. Shweta also used to work as a choreographer in the dance reality show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa. Shweta holds a bachelor’s degree from Indira Gandhi National Open University, and she won the Miss Diva 2023 title this year. Shweta did not make it to the top 10 this year.

Hours before the final, Palacious, who had competed in many pageants before, shared a heartfelt message on Instagram about fulfilling a childhood dream to take part in the global competition.

“Tonight, I dedicate it to my inner child and to each of the girls who yearn to fulfill this dream,” she wrote in Spanish, “even the sky itself is the limit, dream so big that people think it is impossible to achieve, because that is where you know that your dreams and goals will exceed obstacles, and remember to accompany them with determination, perseverance and passion.”

She continued, “My beautiful homeland, thank you for allowing me to be an ambassador of your culture, of your landscapes, of our identity and colonial beauty, my Nicaragua…will be an honor to scream one more night your name and prove to the universe that the homeland may be small but we are full of big dreams.”

Nicaragua’s Sheynnis Palacios Crowned Miss Universe 2023 In History Making Contest

Eighty-four contestants — each representing their home countries — were in contention, but most only briefly: at the beginning of the competition, the field then narrowed to 20 semi-finalists, selected based on their performance in the pageant’s preliminary stage and, in one case, a global fan vote.

As the night progressed, the field was further winnowed; by the time the pageant’s evening gown round played out, only 10 contestants were in the running for the Miss Universe title (and tiara, of course). While it was tradition for the eliminated beauty queens to walk the stage, en masse, to show off their looks at this point, it was usually just a brief — and tightly-choreographed — glimpse at all the sequins, corsetry and fishtail trains.

All that fashion finery was not lost entirely in the blink of an eye, however: each contestant had their runway moment during the aforementioned preliminary proceedings. At the end of it all, multiple other contestants made Miss Universe history at the 72nd event, hosted by Olivia Culpo, Maria Menounos and Jeannie Mai.

Nicaragua’s Sheynnis Palacios Crowned Miss Universe 2023 In History Making Contest

Miss Colombia Camila Avella, a married mother, made the top five. After winning the Miss Colombia title, she posted portraits of herself in her crown and sash, hugging her young daughter, Amelia, and tux-clad husband Nassif Kamle. “Without them, and without the teachings that leave me each day to day, none of this would be possible,” she wrote on Instagram at the time.

2023 was the first year, married women and mothers were allowed to compete. Avella competed alongside Miss Guatemala Michelle Cohn, a mother of two. “MOM QUEEN,” Cohn captioned a pageant portrait of herself on Instagram with her two children.

Plus-size contestant Miss Nepal Jane Dipika Garrett was the pageant’s first body-inclusive contestant and finished in the top 20. “I love my curves! My body is my temple and I will take care of it as holy ground,” she wrote on Instagram, sharing a photo of herself from the swimsuit competition.

For the first time, the pageant included a Miss Pakistan, Erica Robin, who wore a pale-pink, floor-length caftan for the swimsuit competition. “When I was young, I always watched Miss Universe and I used to believe that a woman from Pakistan couldn’t join the greatest Olympics of its kind,” she wrote on Instagram after winning the Miss Pakistan title and celebrated “being able to use my platform for good change and transformation.

Nicaragua’s Sheynnis Palacios Crowned Miss Universe 2023 In History Making Contest

This year’s competitors also included two transgender women: Miss Portugal Marina Machete, who placed in the top 20, and Miss Netherlands Rikkie Valerie Kollé. On Instagram, Machete gave thanks for “the opportunity to share my story and represent the diversity and unshakable strength we have as women” and added, “I’ll keep inspiring the change I want to see in the world!”

Miss Universe pageant represents the most beautiful women in the entire universe. A woman can stand tall and be Miss Universe only if she is ‘confidently beautiful’. Governed by the Miss Universe organization from the US, nearly a hundred women compete annually across the globe for this most celebrated and coveted crown. According to the organisers, the contestants were judged based on several metrics – personal statements, in-depth interviews and presentations in evening gowns and swimwear.  Besides beauty, one’s grace, elegance, attitude, and culture are key aspects that decide the winner.

The winner of this highly honored title righty echoed these sentiments: “Nicaragua, I feel you in my heartbeat, the sound of your marimba runs through my veins,” Palacios, the new Miss Universe 2023 wrote on Instagram. “I will show what Nicaraguans are made of: valor, courage and determination.”

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.”

Nikki Haley ‘Most Favored’ Probable, After Trump For US Presidency In 2024

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley has been rising in the polls in early voting states, especially after her strong performances in the three GOP sponsored presidential debates – Milwaukee, San Francisco and Florida. Though she still lags far behind Donald Trump, she argues she’s strongest nominee to take on President Joe Biden, US media reports said.

Her latest debate performance prompted more than $1 million in donations — and drew in Ray Hunt, a billionaire backer. She’s still banking on a breakthrough to catch up to the front-runner. Over the course of the two-hour face-off, Ms. Haley displayed her foreign policy credentials, parried attacks on her record and even transformed her shoes into a campaign weapon.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) says she’s what the US “needs to take on Trump and Biden in the 2024 presidential race”. “I don’t think you need to be 80 years old to go be a leader in D.C.,” she told Fox News in January. “It’s time for a new generation of leadership,” she said in the campaign video she released recently.

According to Policitco, “the pioneering former governor of South Carolina and Trump’s first United Nations ambassador, the 51-year-old daughter of Indian immigrants, was a Trump critic who became a Trump appointee who now officially is a Trump rival. Throughout her compelling, nearly two-decade-long political ascent, she has been nimble, or as her critics would say, uncommonly calculating. People who know her call her ambitious because she is.”

Haley was born to Indian Sikh parents who immigrated to the US from Canada. Her father is a biologist and her mother a lawyer turned boutique shop owner, that’s now a million dollar franchise. They came with $8 dollars in their pockets.

At 13, Haley began overseeing the store’s financial books, and after graduating from Clemson in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, she became the company’s Chief Financial Officer. Haley met her husband William Michael Haley in the college, and got married in 1996. They have two children.Nikki Haley ‘Most Favored’ Probable After Trump For US Presidency In 2024

Haley’s career in politics began in 2004 when she defeated a longstanding incumbent to win a seat in the South Carolina House. Haley then ran for Governor in 2009, making her the first person to be elected the Governor of South Carolina who wasn’t a white. It has been a gradula rise to her prominence to national stage for this talented Indian American presidential candidate.

However, months of campaigning, a series of strong debate performances, healthy campaign accounts and rising numbers in surveys of early voting states haven’t been enough to put Ms. Haley within striking distance of Mr. Trump, who remains the dominant front-runner. While Ms. Haley’s support has increased, particularly in Iowa, voters have yet to flock to her candidacy in overwhelming numbers. One recent poll of Iowa had Ms. Haley tied at 16 percent support with Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida — with Mr. Trump 27 points ahead.

There are some signs major donors are turning their attention to her. Harlan Crow, a wealthy real estate developer, hosted a fund-raiser for her in October with well-connected real estate and oil and gas donors in attendance. Former Gov. Bruce Rauner of Illinois, a top giver to Mr. DeSantis, transferred his allegiance to Ms. Haley after the first debate. Last week, one of former Vice President Mike Pence’s top donors — the Arkansas poultry magnate Ron Cameron — said he would back her, after Mr. Pence dropped out of the race.

Haley, who served in Trump’s Cabinet as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has said frequently on the campaign trail that Trump is unlikely to beat President Joe Biden in a general election, citing his four criminal indictments and mounting legal troubles.

If Trump becomes the nominee, she said, Republicans could see more losses on down-ballot races. Haley argued she could lead the party to “win up and down the ticket, governor’s races, congressional seats, all of those seats.”

“It’s not just the presidential. We’re trying to win across the board. I can do that,” she added

ITServe’s Women’s Panel Discusses ‘Direct Client Engagement in the World of Contingent Workforce’

A panel of distinguished women leaders from across the United States were part of a high-powered discussion on ‘Direct Client Engagement in the World of Contingent Workforce’ on the final day of ITServe Alliance’s flagship Synergy 2023 at the world-famous Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City in New Jersey on Friday, October 27, 2023.

ITServe womenKeisha Stephens, CCWP, Director of People Operations, Empowering Employees for Success & Driving Operational Excellence, SIA DE&I Influencer and Contingent Workforce Program Game Changer; Pamela Randall, CCWP, a Talent Solution Strategist, Change Agent with Sustainable Results and Making Possible a Better Future; Jamhali Portus, a Global Contingent Workforce Management Professional, who is passionate about creating the best-in-class contingent workforce management program with a focus on Quality, Efficiency, Cost and Risk; and, Semonie Kong, a CWP Program Manager, Atlassian, were the panelists at the lively and enlightening discussion that focussed on empowering women.

Moderated by Shabana Siraj and Lavanya Poosarla, the distinguished speakers on the panel shared with the audience a wealth of knowledge about this crucial topic, and it was heartening to see a packed audience who found it to be one of the standout sessions.

“Personally, one of the event’s highlights for me was moderating the panel discussion titled ‘Direct Client Engagement in the World of Contingent Workforce,” said Siraj. “What made this event more special was that it was an all women’s panel, highlighting the diverse perspectives and talents that are driving innovation in our industry.”

ITServe women leadersITServe Alliance Synergy 2023 has marked a significant milestone in its 13-year history, and one couldn’t be more thrilled with the outcome. This event brought together an impressive lineup of keynote speakers who covered a diverse array of topics, ranging from leadership and technology to startups, immigration, PAC, M&A, and the CIO & CTO Forum.

ITServe had esteemed speakers such as @Steve Forbes from Forbes, @Jack Kass from OpenAI, Kevin O’Leary from Shark Tank, @Sheila Blair from FDIC, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and @Praneesh Murthy, former CEO of IGATE, sharing their valuable insights and expertise.

“Thank you to everyone who made ITServe Alliance Synergy 2023 a resounding success. Looking forward to continued collaboration and growth in the years to come, particularly for all the efforts by Vinay Mahajan, President of ITServe; Venu Sangani, Synergy Director; Jagadeesh Mosali, President-Elect ITSErve; and Vinay Parachuri,” said  Poosarla.

ITServe Women's panelKey ITServe members who were instrumental in organizing the discussions included;  Hima Kolanagireddy, Deepali Sontakke, Jyoti Vazirani, Pushyami Duvvuri, Divya Bala, Ruchi(Joshi) Anand, Anna Kolluri, Ranjani Mohana, Nazeera Dawood, and Sangita Datta.

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: www.itserve.org

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.

Hillary Clinton Expresses Profound Appreciation For The Invaluable Contributions Of ITServe Alliance

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

In his address to the membership, Vinay K. Mahajan, National President of ITServe Alliance highlighted how under his able leadership, ITServe has grown and strengthened in its mission in protecting members interest, enhancing membership benefits, empowering local employment, empowering local community through various CSR programs including STEM education, and empowering ecosystem of innovation and thus maintaining the leadership of US in Technology.

“Travelling to all the 21 Chapters across the United States in 8 months after I assumed office, I was instrumental in achieving membership to newer heights with more than 700+ new members added in 2023. Two new Chapters were launched. IT Serve Alliance is led by highly talented individuals, phenomenally successful entrepreneurs, and Innovators who are enthusiastic about giving back to the community.” He strengthened STEM Education program by adding STEM Training and Internship programs and enhancing STEM scholarships program.”

Venu Sangani, Director of Synergy 2023, who led a dedicated and visionary team organizing this historic event said, “Synergy 2023 is our landmark flagship gathering, you have opportunities for growth and learning, forging a path with connections, with featuring seven keynote sessions from seven different domain panels, panel discussions, interactive breakout sessions. The essence of Synergy lies not only knowledge exchanges but inspiring one another. Let the success stories of fellow entrepreneurs ignite your ambitions.”

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 focused 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, who led a dedicated and visionary team in organizing this historic event said, “Synergy 2023 is our landmark flagship gathering, with opportunities for growth and learning, forging a path with connections, featuring seven keynote sessions from seven different domain panels, panel discussions, and interactive breakout sessions. The essence of Synergy lies not only in knowledge exchanges but inspiring one another. Let the success stories of fellow entrepreneurs ignite your ambitions.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Chief Guest at ITServe Alliance’s Synergy 2023, shared with the audience about her life and aspirations, expressed appreciation for the contributions of the high skilled immigrant community and urged them to play an active role in the society. Ms. Clinton, the 67th Secretary of State of the United States has dedicated over four decades of her life in public service, serving as an advocate, attorney, First Lady, and US Senator.

Secretary Clinton praised the contributions and accomplishments of the high-skilled immigrants to this country. She said, “I’m so proud of the many accomplishments of the ITServe member companies 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 stressed the importance of Health Insurance program particularly for the children. When it comes to US immigration issues, she advocated for reforming our immigration system to attract the most talented individuals from around the globe. This, in turn, would drive innovation and foster growth in our nation. Additionally, she advocated for a bipartisan approach to address this issue.

ITServe members were filled with immense pride as they welcomed distinguished guests to their Synergy events. In 2021, they were honored to host President George W. Bush in Dallas, followed by President Bill Clinton and a former US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley in 2022 in Orlando. The pinnacle of their achievements came in 2023, as they were graced by the presence of Secretary Ms. Clinton at Synergy in Atlantic City.

These momentous occasions were a testament to the organization’s commitment to excellence and its ability to attract influential figures to its gatherings. These remarkable leaders graced the Synergy events with their presence, making each gathering a memorable and prestigious occasion for ITServe and its members.

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: www.itserve.org

Pope Francis At First ‘Faith Pavilion’ During Climate Summit

(RNS) — Pope Francis is set to speak at the inauguration of the first-ever “Faith Pavilion” during the upcoming 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference in the United Arab Emirates.

As political leaders from across the globe gather from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12 to assess how well they are addressing climate change, religious officials — including Francis, who is both a head of state and the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church — will have a new place of prominence.

Vatican News reported Thursday (Nov. 9) that the pope will also deliver a speech at the summit and hold bilateral meetings while in Dubai from Dec. 1-3.

The Faith Pavilion will be hosted by the U.N. Environmental Program, the Muslim Council of Elders, the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, the Episcopal Diocese of California and dozens of other faith-based groups.

“There’s been a long-term effort among some of us who’ve been attending the COP from faith bodies to have a physical presence and to be more at the table,” Bishop Marc Andrus, leader of the Bay Area-based diocese, told Religion News Service in an interview.

“We believe that we have to have stronger voices together in order to meet the urgent need to combat climate change effects. The pavilion is really a physical embodiment of our commitment to really be an active sector in climate change work.”

Pope Francis At First ‘Faith Pavilion’ During Climate Summit (NCR)
Picture: NCR

Rabbi Yonatan Neril, executive director of the Jerusalem-based Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, expressed the leaders’ excitement about Francis’ participation in the inauguration of the pavilion, whose cost organizers declined to disclose.

He said the facility can accommodate as many as 100 people and will host 65 sessions about how major religious groups are working to reduce climate change. The religions represented are Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Judaism, Hinduism, Baha’i, Buddhism, Indigenous religions and Zoroastrianism.

“The Faith Pavilion will be right at the heart of COP28, located near the World Climate Action Summit and the area where the negotiations take place,” Neril said via email. “This demonstrates the significance of the interfaith movement in helping to tackle the climate emergency and provides a unique opportunity for faith-based engagement with key stakeholders, including political decision makers and negotiators.”

A number of high-level faith leaders will be speaking at the pavilion. Those leaders include Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis of the United Kingdom; Bishop Thomas Schirrmacher, secretary general of the New York-based World Evangelical Alliance; and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, president of the India-based Divine Shakti Foundation.

Most of those speakers were signatories on a statement also signed by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and representatives of Francis, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar. That statement was released on Monday at the conclusion of a pre-COP28 gathering of global faith leaders in Abu Dhabi.

“We ardently implore all decision-makers assembled at COP28 to seize this decisive moment and to act with urgency, weaving a tapestry of shared action and profound responsibility,” the statement reads. “The urgency of the hour demands that we act swiftly, collaboratively, and resolutely to heal our wounded worlds and preserve the splendor of our common home.”

The California diocese has pioneered the use of a “carbon tracker” app, which helps users reduce their carbon footprint by reviewing how much they fly and drive, the source of heat in their homes and the kinds of food they choose to eat.

Andrus said his church presented the model during Climate Week in September in New York City as Muslims, Hindus, Roman Catholics and others discussed how they can make tangible differences to respond to climate change.

At the Faith Pavilion, he said, representatives of different faiths will be able to speak and present examples of ways they are trying to replenish the Earth or reduce the negative effects they have on it — from Sikhs who have created “small sacred forests” in the Punjab region of India to Ethiopian Orthodox Christians who are “ringing their churches with forest” in the midst of a desert.

Andrus and Neril, like signatories on the statement, hope future U.N. climate summits will also include a pavilion focused on faith, as well as the continued presence of prominent religious leaders.

“Most of the world’s population, and many of the political negotiators at the COPs, affiliate with a religion,” stated Neril. “Yet for the first 27 UN climate conferences, senior religious figures have seldom shown up. At COP28 in Dubai, we have worked to significantly increase the presence of high-level religious leaders, and seek to do so at future COPs.”

In the statement, they committed to guiding members of their organizations on environmental issues and changing consumption patterns to achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement seeking net-zero carbon emissions.

New England Choice Awards Gala In Boston Celebrates Accomplishments of Indian Americans

The New England Choice Awards, a prestigious event held annually celebrating the achievements and accomplishments of the Indian American community was held on Sunday, November 5th, 2023 in Boston, MA.

Organized by the non-profit INE MultMedia, Inc., in collaboration with INDIA New England News, New England Choice Awards gala was attended by, among others, Chief Guest and Keynote Speaker Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and Guest of Honor Pillar VC Founder and CEO Jamie Goldstein.

Over 400 entrepreneurs, corporate executives, philanthropists, educators and community leaders gathered in the packed Grand Ballroom of the Burlington Marriott to honor New England Choice Awards winners of 2023 and be part of the celebration of the fast growing Indian American community.

New England Choice Awards Gala In Boston Celebrates Accomplishments of Indian Americans (Cocoon Media) 2
Picture: Cocoon Media

This year’s NECA award recipients were: Ash Ashutosh, a serial tech entrepreneur and Global Director of Solution Sales at Google; Pranav Ghatraju, a rising Tabla player and New Product Development Engineer at Entegris; Dr. Salil Midha, MD, Cardiology Chief at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital;Priyamvada Natarajan, a Physics Professor and Theoretical Astrophysicist at Yale University, known for her work in mapping dark matter and dark energy; Trupti Patel, an immigration attorney and Saheli Advisory Board Member; Phil Scarff, a Saxophonist, Composer and Founder of world-jazz ensemble Natraj; and the India Society of Worcester, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year as a vibrant non-profit community organization.

Raj Sharma, Managing Director of Wealth Management and Head of The Sharma Group, a high-end boutique within Merrill Lynch’s Private Banking and Investment Group, received the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award.

“For centuries, Boston has been the threshold to New England—our nation’s gateway to and for the rest of the world. And for centuries, we’ve benefited from the hearts and minds—the courage and vision—of those who have made our city home,” said Mayor Wu.

“This room, and the incredible individuals and organizations being honored here tonight, are a testament to the possibilities we unlock when we empower our communities to thrive. And I know that India New England shares that belief and our mission: To ensure that the Indian community here in New England is informed by your thoughtful coverage of global-to-local events; that your stories are centered and celebrated.”

Mayor Wu, congratulated all the winners Sunday night and shared her own story of growing up as a daughter of immigrant parents.

“Growing up as the daughter of immigrants from Taiwan, they always told me to get a stable job, that paid well, and wouldn’t get me into trouble. So you can imagine how they felt when I told them I’d decided to go into politics. But their perspective was colored by their experience as immigrants,” said Mayor Wu. “Never feeling fully welcomed, or valued; and when attention was directed their way it was rarely positive. So the idea that any of us could grow up to be leaders in a community where they didn’t even feel like we belonged wasn’t on their radar. The best thing we could do was keep our heads down and not make waves—blend in.”

Mayor Wu also thanked Dr. Manju Sheth and Upendra Mishra for creating this multimedia platform to empower the community. “I want to thank Upendra, and Dr. Manju, for your leadership here at India New England because standing out was dangerous. We didn’t have examples of leaders in government, the media, or business to look up to—or if we did, we didn’t know about them. Which is why the work that India New England does is so important,” said Mayor Wu.

“Because for every one of our stories that are told—for every event where we are celebrated for holding our heads high and making waves…The more we empower our young people to recognize that they can do and be whatever they want. So I want to take a minute to not only congratulate all of tonight’s awardees, but thank you for opening the door for the next generation: Ash, Pranav, Dr. Salil, Priyamvada, Trupti, Phil, everyone at the India Society of Worcester. And to Raj Sharma—who I am honored to be presented with this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award: Thank you!”

New England Choice Awards Gala In Boston Celebrates Accomplishments of Indian Americans (Cocoon Media)
Picture: Cocoon Media

Dr. Manju Sheth congratulated all the winners and thanked attendees and NECA supporters and sponsors. “Our goal at NECA Awards is to always outdo the previous year show and this was no exception,” said Dr. Sheth.  “The fun and excitement lies in raising the bar every year. It is only possible due to the support of an incredible team and the love and support that we get from the community . I am so happy and grateful for the incredible success of the show this year.”

Upendra Mishra welcomed everyone in his opening remarks and said that there was only goal of the evening: to share and celebrate success and inspire and get inspired by fellow leaders and pioneers of the community.

“Every year, after winners are selected by an independent committee of judges, we send them a set of questions, and eagerly wait for their answers,” said Mr. Mishra. “This year, my favorite questions were: If life gives you another chance, what will you do? And the second one was: what does success mean to you?”

All the winners had different definitions of success, but the core messages were the same: following their dreams and their passion, Mr. Mishra said. “For some, it is internal happiness, good health, a great family and a complete satisfaction with what one has achieved. Some say success is all about achieving peace of mind and personal fulfillment,” added Mr. Mishra. “And some said success is deeply personal, and everyone needs to craft their own definitions and keep refining them as they learn and grow in life. The definition of success evolves over time.”

The 2023 New England Choice Awards 2023 Committee consisted of Anu Chitrapu, Upendra Mishra, Mandy Pant, Anupendra Sharma, Manju Sheth and Aditi Taylor. The judging committee consisted of: Anu Chitrapu, Senior Vice President, Bank of America; Rohit Mahajan, Managing Partner, BigR.io; Girish Mehta, Founder, Indian Circle for Caring USA; Upendra Mishra, Publisher, INDIA New England News and Co-Founder of IneMultimedia and New England Choice Awards; Zenobia Moochhala, CEO, Sittercity & Co-Founder, Care.com; Deepti Nijhawan, Director, India Initiatives, Boston University Global Programs; Mandy Pant, Lead Technologist, Design Engineering Group at Intel; Jasmine Shah, Founder, Aangikam Dance Academy; Anupendra Sharma, CEO, AXLMED, Dr. Manju Sheth, MD, Co-founder, INE MultiMedia, Women Who Win, NECA and Physician at Harvard Vanguard / Atrius Health; Venkat Srinivasan, Founder and Managing Director of Innospark Ventures; Madhu Sudan, Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; and Aditi Taylor, Chief Risk Officer, MFS Investment Management.

Mouli Pal, an accomplished Odissi dance artist, choreographer and cultural ambassador, and recording artist Shraddha Agrawal provided the entertainment at the gala. NECA Sponsors included Atrius Health, Leader Bank, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Asian American and Pacific Islanders Commission, IndUS Business Journal, Jay Patel, Women Who Win and Gourmet India. Community sponsors and supporters were, Cocoon Media, TaranOm Creations, SRAVEO, Boston Sound & Light Company, and Fotu Duniya.

India Beat South Africa By 243 Runs At Kolkata’s Eden Gardens

India beat South Africa by 243 runs at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens on Sunday, November 5th, 2023, with which the men in blue continue their perfect win streak in the ongoing edition of the 50-over World Cup.

Virat Kohli scored his 49th ODI century on Sunday to match Sachin Tendulkar’s world record. And there was perhaps no better day to achieve this feat than his 35th birthday. Eden Gardens also happens to be the ground on which Kohli had scored his first ODI century 14 years ago.

India won the toss and decided to bat first. The team put 326 on the scoreboard – with Kohli’s unbeaten 101 and Shreyas Iyer’s 77 run knock-off 87 deliveries – losing five wickets in 50 overs.

India Beat South Africa By 243 Runs At Kolkata's Eden Gardens 2Riding on Virat Kohli’s unbeaten 101 India put on 326 for 5 against South Africa at the Eden Gardens, celebrating his 35th birthday in the most befitting manner. Kohli reached the landmark when he scored a single off Kagiso Rabada in the 49th over of the Indian innings in front of a packed Eden Gardens crowd that kept chanting his name. Prior to the match against South Africa, Kohli narrowly missed out on his 49th ODI century during India’s match against Sri Lanka on Thursday at the Wankhede Stadium.

Kohli put on on brilliant 134-run stand for the third wicket with Shreyas Iyer (77), who played a sublime knock. Earlier, it was captain Rohit Sharma, whose 24-ball 40 gave India a flying start. Suryakumar Yadav (22 off 14 balls) and Ravindra Jadeja’s unbeaten 29 off 15 balls gave India a perfect flourish.

“Every opportunity to play for India is a big one for me, and to be able to do this (49th ODI hundred) on my birthday in front of such a huge crowd at the Eden Gardens is the stuff of dreams. It’s something that you wish for as a child. So I am very grateful to God that I am blessed with these kinds of moments. So much love from the fans as well. Just continue to try and help the team in any way possible,” Kohli said in the mid-innings interval.

The entire South African team was bowled out for 83 runs in less than 28 overs, with which India marked its eighth consecutive victory in the tournament. Ravindra Jadeja took five wickets in nine overs.

The win assumes more significance because South Africa is not just any team, but the No.2 in the ongoing tournament standings, and the only team other than India to have reserved a slot in the semi-finals. So, it was a big test for India.

Also, it was the heaviest-ever World Cup defeat, in terms of margin, for South Africa.

India are currently in terrific form, having won all seven matches they have played so far. Rohit Sharma and his team defeated Sri Lanka by 302 runs in their previous match, the second-biggest win in the tournament history. They have two batters with over 400 runs (Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma), while Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Mohammed Siraj and Kuldeep Yadav are doing a terrific job with the ball.

Haley And Ramaswamy Get Nastier At 3rd Republican Presidential Debate

The fight between Indian-American Republican candidates got nastier with former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley calling tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy “just a scumm” for bringing up her daughter as a reference at the party’s third presidential primary debate on Wednesday, November 8th, 2023.

At the debate held in Miami, the two leading Republican candidates sparred over the US policy on TikTok and whether it should be banned in the country because of its Chinese ownership.

The 38-year-old entrepreneur referred to Haley and said: “In the last debate, she made fun of me for actually joining TikTok while her own daughter was actually using the app for a long time, so you might want to take care of your family first.”

Haley And Ramaswamy Get Nastier At 3rd Republican Presidential Debate (The Guardian)
Picture: The Guardian

Haley then shot back saying, “Leave my daughter out of your voice”, and as Ramaswamy continued to speak, she told him, “You are just a scum.”

The former South Carolina Governor also took to her X handle on Wednesday to further slam the biotech entrepreneur, which was dismissed by a handful of netizens as “cringe.”

“Vivek, I wear heels. They’re not for a fashion statement — they’re for ammunition,” Haley said, inviting a comment from a user, which said: “All of the comebacks in the world, and you chose cringe.”

The two also locked horns in the previous presidential debate with Haley slamming him for his inexperience on foreign policy issues.

Hitting out at Haley, Ramaswamy’s campaign in a statement said that in a desperate attempt to raise funds for her languishing establishment campaign, the former US ambassador to the UN was intentionally lying about the tech entrepreneur.

Haley blasted Ramaswamy for not backing US allies, and said that “Vivek has no foreign policy experience and it shows.” Ramaswamy also used the ‘Namrata Randhawa’ instead of Nikki Haley on his website, which she said was a “childish name game.”

“I’m not going to get involved in these childish name games. It’s pretty pathetic. First of all, I was born with Nikki on my birth certificate. I was raised as Nikki. I married a Haley. And so that is what my name is,” Haley told Fox News in response.

Haley again called for reforming Social Security and other entitlement programs, drawing a contrast with Trump — and bringing up what Democrats say is a significant vulnerability for her candidacy.

“Any candidate that tells you that they’re not going to take on entitlements is not being serious,” she said. “Right now you have Ron and Trump joining Biden and Pelosi saying they’re not going to change, or do any entitlement reform.”

Haley has long called for making significant changes to the program, including raising the retirement age and removing cost of living increases in favor of increases based on the inflation rate.

She also called for limiting the program for the wealthy — namechecking Bernie Marcus, the former CEO of Home Depot and a major Republican donor, saying that he “hates getting that check.”

In a survey released on Monday by the Des Moines Register, Haley climbed 10 points to 16 per cent, putting her even with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as he struggles to break through against former President Donald Trump.

In addition to Haley and Ramaswamy, three other candidates were on stage for the third debate — former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.

The two-hour debate, hosted by NBC News, took off at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County.

Trump, who has so far retained huge leads in polls, again skipped the debate, instead holding a rally not far from the Miami debate site in Hialeah, Florida.

The GOP candidates had one basic message for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Do what you have to do to destroy the Hamas militant group.

“Finish the job,” DeSantis said. “Finish them,” Haley said. “Not only do you have the responsibility and the right to wipe Hamas off of the map, we will support you,” Scott said.

Ramaswamy ended the debate by calling not on his Republican rivals, but on Biden, to drop out. The president should “step aside and end his candidacy now so we can see whether it’s [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom or Michelle Obama or whoever else,” Ramaswamy said at the end of his closing pitch.

The Qatar-India Diplomatic Conundrum: What’s India’s Next Move?

Should Bharat reconsider landing rights for Qatar Airways? A Test of Strategic Resolve

The Qatar-India Diplomatic Conundrum: What's India's Next Move?

By: Amb. Pradeep Kapur & Dr. Joseph M. Chalil

The recent sentencing of eight Indian Navy veterans, including the highly respected Cmdr. Purnendu Tiwari (Retd), by a Qatari court on espionage charges, is a moment of deep introspection for India’s foreign policy machinery. With bilateral ties between Qatar and India already hanging in the balance, this event marks a significant, potentially disruptive moment in their shared history.

Cmdr. Tiwari, a previous recipient of the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, has been honored by India for his remarkable contributions to bilateral ties with Qatar. The naval officers were in Kotász to provide training to the Qataris. They are respected and enabled officers, and they are not terrorists. Thus, the sentencing of eight Indian naval officers to death on charges of spying for Israel poses severe questions about trust, respect, and the future trajectory of Indo-Qatari relations.

Qatar and Bharat used to enjoy good bilateral relations. Of late, these relations have come under severe stress as Qatar’s policies have become more closely aligned with Türkiye and Iran due to Qatar’s support and funding of terrorist organizations, including some such organizations within Bharat. Also, the media channel Al Jazeera operates freely from Qatar, with its bias against Bharat.

However, the economic ties and bilateral trade are significant. Qatar is an important source of oil for Bharat. On the other hand, the 800,000 migrant workers from Bharat constitute the most significant component of foreign workers in Qatar, and they contribute significantly to the Qatari economy, along with the 6,000 Indian companies operating in Qatar. Under normal circumstances, the Indian envoy in Doha has a lot of access and clout within the Qatari establishment, and this issue could perhaps have been resolved without it escalating to this level.

Implementing the IMEC (India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor), which was already under stress due to the continuing Russia-Ukraine war and has also been impacted by the Middle East conflict between Israel and Hamas, will be further delayed.

  1. Diplomatic Channels and Open Dialogue

Bharat’s first line of action should continue to be diplomatic. The primary objective should be securing the safe return of the detained individuals, especially given the potentially politically motivated nature of the verdict. India must invoke the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations to ensure regular consular access and a fair appeal process for the detained veterans.

Further, a lower court in Qatar has given the death sentence. An appeal must be made to a higher court. An appeal can also be made to the Emir for pardoning the Indian naval officers.  So far, in the last 20 years, only one Nepali migrant worker has been executed in Qatar.

New Delhi must open communication channels at the highest levels, possibly involving Prime Ministerial or Presidential diplomacy. A direct conversation between leaders can often break the ice and prevent a full-blown crisis.

  1. Bilateral Talks and Strategic Diplomacy

While securing the safety and well-being of its nationals is paramount, India must also address the core allegations which link it to Israel. India could propose a joint bilateral committee to investigate the charges independently. This gesture would show India’s commitment to transparency and respect for Qatar’s concerns while upholding its interests.

If Qatar delayed the resolution of the case and set free the former naval officers, Bharat would have to think about the various options, which it could communicate privately to Qatar.

  1. Rethinking Qatar Airways’ Landing Rights

India could reconsider landing rights for Qatar Airways, a major connector between the two countries. One of the significant sources of revenue for Qatar Airways is the Indian diaspora. Qatar Airways has been given rights to many Indian airports. While this move might strain the relationship further, it would be a strong statement about the seriousness with which India views the detentions.

  1. Collaborative Engagement with Israel

Given the alleged Israeli connection, India can deepen its ties with Israel on intelligence-sharing and defense cooperation, signaling a shift in its strategic alignment. While this doesn’t mean outright siding against Qatar, it indicates a diversified strategic partnership beyond traditional alliances. India could list Hamas as a terrorist organization. This will put Qatar under notice as a state sponsor of terrorism.

  1. Economic Leverage: A Double-Edged Sword

Qatar has significant resources for oil. It is also one of the richest per capita GDP countries. Qatar and India have a robust trade relationship. Qatar is one of India’s critical natural gas suppliers and is essential to India’s energy security. Conversely, India is one of Qatar’s largest trading partners. While using economic leverage, such as trade restrictions or curbing investments, is tempting, this tactic can backfire.

Instead of immediately resorting to sanctions or trade curbs, India could consider a phased approach. An initial step might be to review ongoing projects and investments in Qatar, signaling the potential economic consequences of strained relations.

  1. Internationalizing the Issue

If bilateral channels fail to yield satisfactory outcomes, India could consider raising the matter on international platforms. This could include discussions in the United Nations, Commonwealth, or other international forums where both nations participate. By internationalizing the issue, India can rally support from like-minded countries and build pressure on Qatar.

The US had declared Qatar as a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA). The US has a major base in Qatar with 10,000 US army personnel. It also carries out a lot of its air force operations and drone attacks in the region from its base in Qatar. This base was also used extensively for the evacuation of Afghans when the Taliban took over.

On the other hand, Qatar provides a haven to representatives and leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Taliban, and Al-Qaeda. Thus, Qatar is said to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.

  1. Engaging the Indian Diaspora

With a significant Indian expatriate community in Qatar, their well-being and sentiments become pivotal in such a crisis. Engaging with the diaspora, ensuring their safety, and leveraging their influence in Qatar can be crucial in resolving the situation.

The Indian diaspora in the US can also play an essential role by leveraging their connections within the US administration to seek the urgent release of the Indian naval officers.

  1. Exploring Alternative Energy Partnerships

While disrupting the energy trade between Qatar and India could immediately impact India’s economy, the long-term strategy might include diversifying energy sources. India can reduce its dependency on Qatari gas by exploring deeper partnerships with other Gulf nations or looking towards non-traditional partners.

India’s initiatives to create the International Global Solar Alliance (GSA) and, more recently, the Global Biofuel Alliance and its impetus to renewable energy will contribute significantly to energy security. These initiatives need to be expedited.

  1. Approach the International Court of Justice (ICJ)

India should approach the International Court of Justice (ICJ) concerning the detention and sentencing of its Navy veterans in Qatar, which can be strategically framed by focusing on international legal principles, especially regarding the right to a fair trial and human rights considerations. Here’s how India can approach the ICJ to block the execution:

As seen in the case between India and Pakistan concerning Kulbhushan Jadhav, India invoked the ICJ’s jurisdiction based on alleged violations of the VCCR. The Convention outlines consular officials’ rights to visit, converse with, and ensure legal representation for their citizens detained abroad. India can argue that its rights under the VCCR were breached if they were not given appropriate consular access. Both India and Qatar are also parties to the ICCPR. Article 14 of the Covenant guarantees the right to a fair trial. If India believes the Navy veterans didn’t receive a fair trial in Qatar, it can base its arguments on violations of this treaty.

  1. Humanitarian Grounds:

While legal arguments will form the core of India’s case, the country can also emphasize the humanitarian aspects, especially given the irreversibility of the death penalty. This can build international pressure, making it more than just a legal issue but a global concern.

  1. Seeking Provisional Measures:

Once the case is brought before the ICJ, India can seek provisional measures, effectively an interim order, to prevent Qatar from executing the Navy veterans until the issue is conclusively decided. This ensures that no irreversible action is taken during the court’s proceedings.

Conclusion:

The ICJ’s involvement can be a double-edged sword, as it can help bring attention to the matter and potentially halt executions. Still, it also requires substantial evidence and solid legal arguments. It is crucial for India to meticulously prepare its case, ensuring that it stands on firm legal and moral grounds. Moreover, the entire process can be time-consuming and has no guaranteed outcome. With the right strategy, India can use the ICJ as a critical platform to seek justice for its veterans.

Declaring a state as a sponsor of terrorism is a significant and severe diplomatic move, and it’s essential to understand the complexities and implications of such an action. India could consider declaring Qatar as a state sponsor of terrorism based on alleged support for Hamas. It would likely strain bilateral ties considerably, impact regional geopolitics, and could lead to retaliatory measures by the designated state.

India’s response to this crisis will test its foreign policy’s resilience, maturity, and strategic depth. While the immediate priority is securing the release of the detained veterans, New Delhi must also ensure its actions maintain the delicate balance in West Asia and its strategic interests.

Economic and diplomatic actions should be measured and phased, ensuring room for de-escalation. At its heart, diplomacy is about dialogue, trust-building, and finding common ground. It’s time for India and Qatar to navigate this challenging moment and forge a path of mutual respect and understanding.

Ambassador Pradeep Kapur

Ambassador Pradeep Kapur is an acknowledged “luminary diplomat,” with a distinguished career working with leaders and policymakers in different continents of the world: Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, and South America. He was the author and editor of many books. Kapur was Ambassador of India to Chile and Cambodia and Secretary at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs before joining as an academic in reputed universities in the USA and India. A graduate of the globally acclaimed Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-D), he is Executive Director of Smart Village Development Fund (SVDF); International Economic Strategic Advisor, Intellect Design Arena; and Chairman, Advisory Council, DiplomacyIndia.com. His healthcare contributions include setting up of BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences in Eastern Nepal, which is acclaimed as an exemplary bilateral India Nepal initiative.

Joseph M Chalil

Dr. Joseph M. Chalil, Chief Medical Officer at Novo Integrated Sciences, Inc., is a renowned physician executive with international recognition for his extensive contributions to healthcare innovation and research. Currently pursuing an LLM in Medical Law and Ethics at the University of Edinburgh Law School, he holds influential roles as Chairman of the Complex Health Systems Advisory Board and Adjunct Professor at Nova Southeastern University, Florida. Dr. Chalil, a U.S. Navy Medical Corps veteran, also serves as Chief Strategic Advisor for the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) and is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. His impactful book, “Beyond the Covid-19 Pandemic,” reflects his commitment to transforming global healthcare systems. A respected figure in healthcare and media, Dr. Chalil is known for his leadership in healthcare administration, balanced media representation, and insightful discussions on Indian TV news channels, showcasing his expertise in areas such as US-India relations, geopolitical issues, and public policy.

Renowned Physician, Dr. Joseph Chalil, Shares His Remarkable Journey on “The Supreet Singh Show”

In the vast and ever-expanding world of podcasting, “The Supreet Singh Show” has just dropped its second episode, promising to keep the flames of inspiration and knowledge burning. This time, the spotlight shines on Dr. Joseph M. Chalil, the Chief Medical Officer at Novo Integrated Sciences, Whose journey from humble beginnings to global recognition is truly remarkable.

As is widely recognized, the host of the show – Mr. Supreet Singh is a multifaceted entrepreneur. Beyond his accomplished role as a certified broadcaster in Vancouver, he also serves as the Founder and CEO of the acclaimed pharmaceutical company- PCHPL (Psychocare Health Pvt. Ltd). Supreet Singh has also garnered multiple awards and recognition. His background in the medical industry facilitated an instant connection with Dr. Chalil.

During this riveting episode, Supreet Singh delves into the life and career of Dr. Chalil, leaving no stone unturned in unpacking the remarkable journey that has made him a prominent figure in the medical world. The episode is a captivating fusion of Dr. Chalil’s profound medical knowledge and Supreet Singh’s interviewing skills.

The episode explores various intriguing topics, from the future of healthcare to the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare systems. Listeners can expect to gain valuable insights into the challenges and triumphs of a medical career, as well as broader themes of dedication, perseverance, and the pursuit of excellence.

“The Supreet Singh Show” is rapidly establishing itself as a platform for uncovering the transformative journeys and life stories of individuals who have left an indelible mark in their respective fields. Each episode introduces the audience to a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences, ensuring that there is something for everyone to connect with and draw inspiration from.

This podcast is available on various platforms such as Spotify and YouTube, providing a diverse range of audiences the opportunity to engage with these impactful conversations. It fosters a sense of community where shared learning and growth become the cornerstones of the show’s message.

Listeners are encouraged to tune in to be inspired by the remarkable journey of Dr. Joseph Chalil and to explore the depths of knowledge and inspiration that “The Supreet Singh Show” has to offer.

AAPI’s Historic 2019 Expedition to Antarctica

Several years of meticulous planning, discussions, and organization, came to fruition as 190 delegates of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) Families and Friends from across the United States and India embarked on the Ocean Atlantic Ship operated by Albatros Expeditions on November 30th, 2019 from Ushuaia, the southernmost town on Earth in Argentina on a voyage to Antarctica, the seventh Continent, known as the Last Horizon on Earth.

The voyagers were welcomed on board by AAPI’s young and dynamic President, Dr. Suresh Reddy, who has been working very hard, coordinating the efforts with Vinod Gupta from the Travel Agency, ATG Tours, the crew and leadership of the Cruise and the AAPI leaders and members with varied interests and ages ranging from 10 to 90, who had flown in from around the world for this once in a lifetime memorable and historic voyage to the White Continent.

Earlier, the AAPI delegates had toured the beautiful and serene National Park in Ushuaia, on the world famous Route 3 that runs from Alaska to the southern tip of the world in Argentina. At the Park, Dr. Reddy led the AAPI delegates carrying the AAPI banner, spreading the message of Obesity Awareness, which is a major objective of Dr. Reddy’s Presidency, taking the message of Obesity Awareness Around the World.

On the Ship, immediately after settling down in each one’s cabin, the voyagers were invited to learn about safety on the ship and participated in a safety drill. Shelli Ogilvy, the Veteran Expedition Leader introduced the 22 Expedition Members with extensive maritime experiences from around the world, and over 60 other crew members to the voyagers.

The Ship carrying the sailors began its journey on November 30th, 2019 from the Ushuaia Sea Port with a prayer song to Lord Ganesh, chanted by Dr. Aarti Pandya from Atlanta, GA.

Later in the evening, the voyagers sat down for a sit down dinner at the elegantly laid tables at the Restaurant with delicious Indian Cuisine, prepared by Herbert Baretto, a Chef from Goa, India, specially flown in to meet the diverse needs of the Indians who are now the exclusive Voyagers on Ocean Atlantic.

The evenings are fun filled with members spending time together with their select friends and families, singing, playing cards games, discussing politics to medicine to healthcare and sharing jokes and snippets with one another in smaller groups. The cultural events included live music sung by Dr. Radhika from Chicago, Dr. Aarti Pandya and Dr. Badlani, in addition to several local talents of AA{I’s own, leading and vying to win the Anthakshri contest.

The finale on December 8th was a colorful Indian Dress Segment, where the adorable AAPI women and men walked the aile in elegantly dressed in Indian ethnic wear depicting different states of India. On December 7th evening, the voyagers had Black Tie Nite with many of them learning and playing Pokers until the early hours of the morning.

As the sun was still shining beyond midnight, members of the voyage were seen posing and taking pictures on board the ship with the background of the mighty ocean and the scenic mountains of Argentina at the background.

On December 1st morning, AAPI members were alerted to be mindful of the most turbulent Drake Passage, where the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean merge, through which our ship was now sailing with winds gusting through over 50 kms an hour from the south west. The rough with fast moving sea currents contributing to a turbulent weather, several voyagers took shelter in anti-nausea meds.

Throughout the day, there were special safety classes periodically throughout the day, helping the voyagers on ways to navigate the zodiacs, the kayaks, the walks on the ice and snow once we reach our final destination. They were also educated on the many aspects of wildlife on Antarctica, the species, especially the varieties of penguins, the mammals and the birds that inhabit the Continent and the ways for the voyagers to deal with them. The participants were educated on the Antarctic Treaty, Climate Change and Impact, Whale Hunting, and many more relevant topics with scientific data by the Expedition Crew.

The evening was special for the voyagers as the Captain of the ship welcomed the delegates to the Ship and to the Expedition to Antarctica. He introduced his crew leaders to the loud applause from the delegates, as he toasted champagne for a safe and enjoyable journey to Antarctica.

On December 2nd morning, we woke up to milder weather and calmer ocean with the winds subsiding to about 20 kms an hour and ship sailing smoother with the temperatures below 7 degree Celsius. The crew on the ship described the sail to be the smoothest and the weather and wind conditions to be one of the calmest they have ever witnessed. However, the entire day was cloudy with the sun hiding behind the thick clouds upon the ocean.

AAPI in Antarctica

After sailing across the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans and through the turbulent Drake Passage, and the South Ocean, finally, the day arrived for the Voyagers. The one they had been eagerly waiting for. On December 3rd, our ship, the Ocean Atlantic anchored on Danco Island, off the coast of the 7th Continent, Antarctica, officially discovered in 1820, although there is some controversy as to who sighted it first
The excitement of the voyagers had no bounds as they dressed up in their waterproof trousers, navy blue jackets, with hats and glouce and mufflers. They set out in groups marching off the Ship into the Zodiacs in tens in each Zodiac.

The wind and the ocean were calmer. The sun continued to hide behind thick clouds. The Expedition Crew from the ship drove the AAPI delegates to the shore on the island for the first time. The glaciers, mighty mountains covered with pristine and shiny snow, the icebergs on the ocean floating on the Bay, made the Zodiac ride to the shore a memorable experience for each.

As the voyagers walked to the shore on a narrow path on the soft snow surface, leading up the snowcapped mountains, it was a dream come true for all. The fresh water melting from the glaciers and the ice on the one side and on the other little rocks and mountains filled with snow, the Danco Island was picture perfect.

Head off in a Zodiac to view icebergs, or land on a beach studded with penguins. Kayak in the greatest silence on Earth. Take a long hike or a short walk on a shore lined with ghostly remnants of the whaling industry.

Penguins in small colonies of their own seemed unaffected by the voyagers landing onto the Penguin land. Hearing their unique and enchanting voices for the first time, as most of them sat steady, while a few walked from one end to the other, it was a scene everyone long dreamt to be part of, as it was another memorable experience in the life of everyone.

In the afternoon, after lunch and a lecture on the history of Antarctica, the Ocean Atlantic ship, travelling about 25 nautical miles, for the first time ever, landed on the Antarctic Continent as she reached the shores of Paradise Bay, a beautiful island, where the famous Brown Center, the Argentinian Research Station was located.

Trekking up the Hill on the snow and ice filled terrains, even as the serene and picturesque glaciers in vivid shapes and texture, it was mesmerizing and the Bay on either side, was breathtaking.
On December 4th morning, the voyagers got onto the Zodiacs and sailed to Port Lockroy, a sheltered harbor with a secure anchorage on the Antarctic Peninsula since its discovery in 1904. The Port also is home to a Museum and a British Post Office, where the early visitors to the Continent lived and explored the wildlife of the last Horizon. The Museum has preserved the antiques used by the early voyagers, who are an important part in the history of Antarctica.
Bright sun light flashing on the Lamoy Point on our way south towards the northern peninsula of the white Coneinent greeted us all this morning on December 5th. The greetings over the microphone at 6.15 woke us all up letting us know of the .mild weather conditions with 7 degrees celcius and 27 km s wind speed with bright sunny day was a welcome change from yesterday.

Immediately after breakfast we set out in small groups of ten on each Zodiac to cruise on the pristine blue waters of the Lamoy Bay.

Bright sun light flashing on the Lamoy Point on our way south towards the northern peninsula of the white Coneinent greeted us all this morning on December 5th. The greetings over the microphone at 6.15 woke us all up letting us know of the .mild weather conditions with 7 degrees celcius and 27 km s wind speed with bright sunny day was a welcome change from yesterday.

Immediately after breakfast we set out in small groups of ten on each Zodiac to cruise on the pristine blue waters of the Lamoy Bay.

The wind of 25 kms an hour made the waters of the Bay mildly rough as we set out from the ship. For the first time during the voyage, to the much delight of the AAPI delegates, the sun chose to come out from behind the clouds and shone brightly on the voyagers, making the snow shining and glowing with the rays of the sun filling the surface of the earth. It was delightful to see the Penguins close to the AAPI delegates, some of them walking beside them crossing their pathway.
After a lunch Barbeque on Deck Seven of the Ship, the Ocean Atlantic took us through the beautiful Lemaire Channel on the Continent. Braving the cold and gusty winds, the voyagers got together for a group picture of the entire voyager group on Deck Eight of the ship, as they were awed by the beautiful glaciers, the mighty snow-caped mountains, and the floating ice bergs.

It was an amazing experience as the Ship sailed through the Bay filled with Ice Sheet Rocks that are over a meter thick, slowly but steadily marching forward towards the Plenau Bay, where the 38 brave AAPI members had the unique experience of taking “Polar Plunge” in the Sea Water, which was 0.78 degree calcium while the rest of the AA{I delegates watched the brave men and women taking a memorable dip and swim back to the ship in the freezing cold waters of the Antarctic Continent.
This afternoon we were invited to climb up to the Decks 8 and 9 of the ship to view the entrance/passage to the famous Deception Island. Ad the ship sailed through this narrow path into the Island with majestic dark mountains on our right side while on the left snowcapped mountains overlooking the Bay. As the gusty winds made us shiver the voyagers standing on the top deck of the Atlantic Ocean posed for pictures while many others were lost in the stunning beauty created by Mother Nature for all of us to enjoy and cherish for ever.

The tallest mountain Mount Franceswithe height of 2300 meters high behind the backdrop, our zodiacs elegantly cruised fhrough the calmer waters to the mountain range called the Princes and the seven dwarfs.

The stunning views of the glaciers and the mountains and the soft and shiny snow spread across the shore led us all to the top of the snowy hills as we trekked to the top.

Colonies of penguins in smaller groups greeted us with their enchanting voices. We watched in awe as tiny penguins walking up flapping their feathers occasionally from the bottom of the hill to the top.
Many if us waited patiently to have an opportunity to view the eggs upon which the Penguins were sitting to hatch their eggs. Some were lucky to photograph a few couples mating while we were trying to figure out the male from female.

Leaving the breath taking landscapes was not an easy choice as we were soon called to embark on the zodiacs and return to Ocean Atlantic our ship as she was patiently waiting to take us to the next destination of our expedition to the Last Horizon.

We woke up this morni g on Friday December 6th to a bright and sunny day, calmer ocean with 9 kms of wind speed….a picture perfect day for expedition.
We went on zodiacs cruising through the blue waters of the Half Moon Island, a cluster of snowy mountains shaped as a half moon. Searching for wild life in the ocean with the voyagers looking out eagerly for any seals or whales did not seem to result in success as the sea animals and those on the shore seemed to hide in their resting places.
Finally the zodiac captains took us to the shore where for the first time we landed on dark stony surface full of rocks stones and pebbles. Our expedition crew leader reported that the shore was completely covered with ice and snow in the beginning of the season barely a month ago.

The glaciers and the imposing mighty mountains around us we hiked up the hill intruding sometimes into the Penguin Hoghways where we saw colonies of penguins resting under the bright sun. It was delightful to watch a few hopping on tiny rocks from one to another unnerved by the visitors from the Other Continents on earth.
A relaxing and rejuvenating morning walks across the island with breath taking views in abundance of Mother Nature will last a life time for everyone who has been part of the historic expedition to the 7th Continent.

After journeying about five hours we reached this evening at the Melchiors Island as the bright sun shining on us. On our way during lunch and later on the voyagers were thrilled to spot whales showing up their heads periodically.

The journey through the Bay was another memorable experience with the stunning landscape all along the route especially as the sun continued shine brightly on the snow peaked mountains turning the waters closer the glaciers turning from blue to green.

We had over an hour of zodiac cruise exploring the sea life on the Antarctic’s South Ocean.

For the first time we were delighted to watch different kinds of Penguins sitting on a single rock glazing at the ocean waters.
We spotted a few huge Cedder Seals resting on the rocks unmoved by the voyagers in several zodiacs watching them in awe.

The bright sun and the gentle breeze embracing the cheeks of the voyagers it was a perfect day to cruise and explore the White Continent.

190 Members of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin AAPI under the leadership of Dr. Suresh Reddy and a over 50 strong crew and 22 member expedition team set on sail from Urshuaia the southernmost township on earth located in the beautiful country Argentina on Saturday November 30th 2019

The AAPI delegates came from across the United States with some members of the extended family of AAPI delegates coming from india on this once in a lifetime experience to the sea enth continent Antarctica.

Earlier the AAPI delegates spent a day in Urshuia touring the National Park and lake wearing yellow hats and shirts carrying a banner spreading the message of the need for obesity awareness.

On the ship the voyage to the White continent began with a Prayer song by Dr.Aarti Pandya from Atlanta to Lord Ganesha seeking his blessings and prayers to remove all obstacles out of the way.

The sit down dinner on the first night as the ship sailed through the passage towards the south ocean was an amazing experience even as the sun shone on the west until 11 pm.

The 2nd day the Voyagers were woken up by announcement from crew of heavy winds of 50 km an hour and rough sea as the majestic ship moved ahead with braving the tumultuous weather and mighty ocean.

The 2nd night on the ship was special with the captain hosting the dinner and the delegates interacting with the crew and the delegates.

AAPI’s Historic Expedition

Today, on December 4th, the voyagers got onto the Zodiacs and sailed to Port Lockroy, a sheltered harbor with a secure anchorage and the Antarctic Peninsula since its discovery in 1904. The Port also is home to a Museum and a British Post Office, where the early visitors to the Continent lived and explored the wildlife of the last Horizon. The Museum has preserved the antiques used by the early voyagers, which is an important role in the history of Antarctica.

The wind of 25 kms an hour made the waters of the Bay mildly rough as we set out from the ship. For the first time during the voyage, to the much delight of the AAPI delegates, the sun chose to come out from behind the clouds and shone brightly on the voyagers, making the snow shining and glowing with the rays of the sun filling the surface of the earth. It was delightful to see the Penguins close to the AAPI delegates, some of them walking beside them crossing their pathway.

After a lunch Barbeque on Deck Seven of the Ship, the Ocean Atlantic took us through the beautiful Lemaire Channel on the Continent. Braving the cold and gusty winds, the voyagers got together for a group picture of the entire voyager group on Deck Eight of the ship, as they were awed by the beautiful glaciers, the mighty snow-caped mountains, and the floating ice bergs.

It was an amazing experience as the Ship sailed through the Bay filled with Ice Sheet Rocks that are over a meter thick, slowly but steadily marching forward towards the Plenau Bay, where the 38 brave AAPI members had the unique experience of taking “Polar Plunge” in the Sea Water, which was 0.78 degree calcium while the rest of the AA{I delegates watched the brave men and women taking a memorable dip and swim back to the ship in the freezing cold waters of the Antarctic Continent.

Bright sun light flashing on the Lamiy Bay on our way up north towards the northern peninsula of the white Coneinent greeted us all this morning on December 5th. The greetings over the microphone at 6.15 woke us all up letting us know of the .mild weather conditions with 7 degrees celcius and 27 km s wind speed with bright sunny day was a welcome change from yesterday.

Immediately after breakfast we set out in small groups of ten on each Zodiac to cruise on the pristine blue waters of the Lamoy Bay.
The tallest mountain Mount Franceswithe height of 2300 meters high behind the backdrop, our zodiacs elegantly cruised fhrough the calmer waters to the mountain range called the Princes and the seven dwarfs.

The stunning views of the glaciers and the mountains and the soft and shiny snow spread across the shore led us all to the top of the snowy hills as we trekked to the top.

Colonies of penguins in smaller groups greeted us with their enchanting voices. We watched in awe as tiny penguins walking up flapping their feathers occasionally from the bottom of the hill to the top.
Many if us waited patiently to have an opportunity to view the eggs upon which the Penguins were sitting to hatch their eggs. Some were lucky to photograph a few couples mating while we were trying to figure out the male from female.

Leaving the breath taking landscapes was not an easy choice as we were soon called to embark on the zodiacs and return to Ocean Atlantic our ship as she was patiently waiting to take us to the next destination of our expedition to the Last Horizon.
After journeying about five hours we reached this evening at the Melchiors Island as the bright sun shining on us. On our way during lunch and later on the voyagers were thrilled to spot whales showing up their heads periodically.

The journey through the Bay was another memorable experience with the stunning landscape all along the route especially as the sun continued shine brightly on the snow peaked mountains turning the waters closer the glaciers turning from blue to green.

We had over an hour of zodiac cruise exploring the sea life on the Antarctic’s South Ocean.

For the first time we were delighted to watch different kinds of Penguins sitting on a single rock glazing at the ocean waters.
We spotted Seals resting on the rocks unmoved and unaffected by the voyagers in several zodiacs watching them in awe.

The bright sun and the gentle breeze embracing the voyagers it was a perfect day to cruise and explore the White Continent.
Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

Bright sun light flashing on the Lamiy Bay on our way up north towards the northern peninsula of the white Coneinent greeted us all this morning on December 5th. The greetings over the microphone at 6.15 woke us all up letting us know of the .mild weather conditions with 7 degrees celcius and 27 km s wind speed with bright sunny day was a welcome change from yesterday.
Immediately after breakfast we set out in small groups of ten on each Zodiac to cruise on the pristine blue waters of the Lamoy Bay.
The tallest mountain Mount Franceswithe height of 2300 meters high behind the backdrop, our zodiacs elegantly cruised fhrough the calmer waters to the mountain range called the Princes and the seven dwarfs.

The stunning views of the glaciers and the mountains and the soft and shiny snow spread across the shore led us all to the top of the snowy hills as we trekked to the top.

Colonies of penguins in smaller groups greeted us with their enchanting voices. We watched in awe as tiny penguins walking up flapping their feathers occasionally from the bottom of the hill to the top.
Many if us waited patiently to have an opportunity to view the eggs upon which the Penguins were sitting to hatch their eggs. Some were lucky to photograph a few couples mating while we were trying to figure out the male from female.

Leaving the breath taking landscapes was not an easy choice as we were soon called to embark on the zodiacs and return to Ocean Atlantic our ship as she was patiently waiting to take us to the next destination of our expedition to the Last Horizon.

After journeying about five hours we reached this evening at the Melchiors Island as the bright sun shining on us. On our way during lunch and later on the voyagers were thrilled to spot whales showing up their heads periodically.

The journey through the Bay was another memorable experience with the stunning landscape all along the route especially as the sun continued shine brightly on the snow peaked mountains turning the waters closer the glaciers turning from blue to green.

We had over an hour of zodiac cruise exploring the sea life on the Antarctic’s South Ocean.

For the first time we were delighted to watch different kinds of Penguins sitting on a single rock glazing at the ocean waters.
We spotted a few huge Cedder Seals resting on the rocks unmoved by the voyagers in several zodiacs watching them in awe.

The bright sun and the gentle breeze embracing the cheeks of the voyagers it was a perfect day to cruise and explore the White Continent.
After journeying about five hours we reached this evening at the Melchiors Island as the bright sun shining on us. On our way during lunch and later on the voyagers were thrilled to spot whales showing up their heads periodically.

The journey through the Bay was another memorable experience with the stunning landscape all along the route especially as the sun continued shine brightly on the snow peaked mountains turning the waters closer the glaciers turning from blue to green.

We had over an hour of zodiac cruise exploring the sea life on the Antarctic’s South Ocean.

For the first time we were delighted to watch different kinds of Penguins sitting on a single rock glazing at the ocean waters.
We spotted a few huge Cedder Seals resting on the rocks unmoved by the voyagers in several zodiacs watching them in awe.

The bright sun and the gentle breeze embracing the cheeks of the voyagers it was a perfect day to cruise and explore the White Continent.
We woke up this morni g on Friday December 6th to a bright and sunny day, calmer ocean with 9 kms of wind speed….a picture perfect day for expedition.
We went on zodiacs cruising through the blue waters of the Half Moon Island, a cluster of snowy mountains shaped as a half moon. Searching for wild life in the ocean with the voyagers looking out eagerly for any seals or whales did not seem to result in success as the sea animals and those on the shore seemed to hide in their resting places.
Finally the zodiac captains took us to the shore where for the first time we landed on dark stony surface full of rocks stones and pebbles. Our expedition crew leader reported that the shore was completely covered with ice and snow in the beginning of the season barely a month ago.

The glaciers and the imposing mighty mountains around us we hiked up the hill intruding sometimes into the Penguin Hoghways where we saw colonies of penguins resting under the bright sun. It was delightful to watch a few hopping on tiny rocks from one to another unnerved by the visitors from the Other Continents on earth.
A relaxing and rejuvenating morning walks across the island with breath taking views in abundance of Mother Nature will last a life time for everyone who has been part of the historic expedition to the 7th Continent.

This afternoon we were invited to climb up to the Decks 8 and 9 to view the entrance/passage to the famous Deception Island. Ad the ship sailed through this narrow path into the Island with majestic dark mountains on our right side while on the left snowcapped mountains overlooking the Bay. As the guest winds made us shiver the voyagers standing on the top deck of the Atlantic Ocean posed for pictures while many others lost in the stunning beauty created by Mother Nature for all of us to enjoy and cherish for ever.

The final landing on the Last Horizon on Friday December 6th afternoon wa sdcc at the Deception Island for the AAPI Votagers.
An unusually bright shi ing sky with gentle winds welcomed us to the shore of the black sandy with little stones spread all along the 36 kms wide island.
The volcanic eruption here over 50 years ago has turne DC the island the mountains into dark colored. Saw a huge deal on the shore resting with birds and few penguins of the Contindnt enjoying the mild weather, the voyagers trekked up.the hill on the dark sand while the panoramic and breath taking views on the snowy mountains beyond the Bay hovering over blue waters of the Last Horizon.

Each evening at cocktail hour the entire expedition community gathers in the lounge for a ritual we call Recap. As you enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, various naturalists give talks, the undersea specialist may show video, and your expedition leader will outline the following day’s schedule.

penguins. Gentoo, Adelie, chinstraps in the thousands; rockhopper, macaroni and king penguins in the Falklands; and king penguins at a staggering scale in South Georgia.
We were all excited about the sightings of a rare black and a rare white penguin, as well as a lone Emperor colony at our farthest south.
Penguin behavior is endlessly fascinating. In the Antarctic spring, hundreds of gentoo penguins parade before us, reestablishing their bonds, mating, staking their claims, and thievishly stealing stones from one another for their nests.

The photo ops are simply incredible. And while penguins are delightful in films and nature documentaries, watching the often-madcap business of penguin life being lived around you is simultaneously uplifting and humbling: the animal kingdom indeed.
We’ll find it resting on ice floes, and often will have the opportunity to approach closely in Zodiacs for excellent photo ops. We’ll also likely be able to observe Weddell and crabeater seals, as well as Antarctic fur seals, whose populations have rebounded since the 1959 Antarctic Treaty and the 1972 Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals.
Antarctic birds
See Arctic terns and other pelagic birds, including fulmars and petrels. The opportunity of a lifetime for bird lovers, however, lies in venturing further—into the lands of the albatross,
The beautiful black-browed albatross crowd the ledges
The wandering albatross, with the largest wingspan of any bird, is one of the many wildlife spectacles South Georgia affords.

We woke up sailing on choppy seas with northerly winds of 45 knots.
When we reached the western side of the island, we found ourselves at the top of the spectacular colony of rockhopper penguins, and black-browed albatross. Brown skuas flew over the colony while penguins, albatross, and shags took care of their eggs.
We spend a good bit of time photographing the birds and generally taking in such wonderful experience and close views of the wildlife.

Settling into the calm waters of Cierva Cove, we headed out for a morning of Zodiac cruising. As the ship disappeared behind us in the mist, we hugged the shoreline to enjoy views of the Argentine research station Base Primavera, rolling swell around dramatic icebergs, and an undisturbed colony of gentoo penguins going about their usual Sunday morning business.

Highlights of the morning included great sightings of Weddell seals snoozing on ice and swimming curiously in the turquoise waters. As the fog began to lift, dramatic mountain peaks showed through the clouds and we were treated to stunning views of the surrounding glaciers and impressive icebergs throughout the cove.
Dramatic sculpture-like structures made for fantastic photo opportunities, and it was tough to return in time for lunch from such a beautiful morning out on the water.
Before long, we lost count of the number of emperor penguins we laid our eyes on. Cut loose upon the sea ice, our guests took to skiing and snowshoeing to explore the icy landscape and spend time with a gaggle of the largest penguin species on our unique planet.

Today, Antarctica is certainly one of the ultimate tour destinations of the world. However, for more than 150 years after its discovery, Antarctica was too far, too remote, too extreme, too dangerous, and too expensive for all but the most stout-hearted explorers and adventurers.

Those people willing to risk everything for the tasks at hand and fortunate enough to have the financial backing of governments or wealthy organizations. Few simple travelers could dare venture into this domain. To go there meant outfitting an expedition, and necessitated making preparations for all kinds of contingencies.
The human history of Antarctica contains some of the most exciting stories of endeavor and persistence imaginable, and includes many survival tales of people overcoming almost unimaginable odds. It is also wrought with many heart-wrenching tragedies.
But, whatever their reasons for going to Antarctica, these people were first and foremost adventurers at heart. It has taken the efforts of these many expeditions and fearless explorers to reduce much of the Antarctic mystery and danger.

The ship could carry 92 passengers along with about 60 crew members, naturalists, and lecturers.
inflatable boats called Zodiacs provided the means for his passengers to get ashore almost anywhere, under a multitude of conditions.

There are two major types of ice in the polar regions, sea ice and glacial ice, and they form through different methods. Sea ice forms in oceanic water when the ambient temperature is lowered to the freezing point of salt water. Glacial ice (including ice caps) forms through the simple accumulation of snow which becomes compressed by its own weight into solid ice. Sea ice formation is a seasonal phenomenon (although individual pieces of sea ice may last for several years), while glacial ice is generally a long-term structure lasting decades, centuries, or even millennia.

If conditions are calm, the crystals join together, thicken, and form a fibrous structure called young ice.
Sea ice prevents the ocean waters from warming the coasts significantly. It is important to note that islands within the limits of Winter pack ice (such as the South Shetlands, South Orkneys, etc.) compare closely with the continent in seasonal temperatures, soils types, flora, and fauna.
Glaciation, however, is much more complicated. When snow accumulates over a period of many years (that is, it doesn’t melt away after one season), the buildup creates a thick deposit in which the overlying mass tends to compress the lower snow layers into solid ice. During this, the individual snowflakes change into granules, which fuse into crystals of ice. Often, the air between the flakes becomes trapped, thereby creating air bubbles within the ice crystals. In polar areas, this produces huge and massive ice caps that can overwhelm and cover the entire landscape, including even mountains. Eventually, the ice mass thickens to the point where it begins to move due to a combination of gravity and the shape and slope of the ground surface. On steeper slopes this can occur when the thickness of the combined snow and ice reaches 15 m (50 feet) in depth. This is often referred to as glacial ice. If the flowing ice is constrained by mountains, valley walls, or other land surface formations, it is known as a glacier.
Glacial ice is the world’s largest reservoir of fresh water, albeit in solid form. Nearly 99% of all glacial ice on Earth is contained within the huge ice sheets in the polar regions. In fact, this volume of ice is so large that if the ice sheets of both Greenland and Antarctica were to melt, it would cause sea levels to rise about 70 meters (230 ft). In addition to Antarctica, Greenland, Canada, Iceland, and Svalbard, there are also significant glaciers scattered around the world outside of polar regions, including Alaska and Chilean Patagonia.
Permanent ice probably began forming in Antarctica as early as Miocene times, perhaps 20 million years ago.

There are 17 species of penguins in the world and they have various qualities in common. They are all found in the southern hemisphere, although one species, the Galapagos penguin, actually ranges a few miles north of the equator. Penguins are the most aquatic of the sea birds, and they generally spend most of their lives at sea (except when molting or rearing young). All penguins are flightless and adapted for life in cold water, so even those found in the low latitudes are dependent upon cold water currents for their livelihood.

Except for the feet and perhaps bare patches on the face, the entire body is covered with small, dense, overlapping, scale-like feathers, and there is a downy tuft at the base of each feather which increases the heat retention abilities even more. Feathers account for about 80% of the penguins’ insulative properties, while fat provides the other 20%. Penguins have very high internal body temperatures (about 38° C, or 101° F), as well as high metabolic rates. With all this taken into account it is easy to understand how the Antarctic species in particular can survive, and even thrive, in a cold, harsh climate.

Around the Antarctic Peninsula, we commonly see gentoo (Pygoscelis papua), Adélie (Pygoscelis adeliae), chinstrap (Pygoscelis Antarctica), emperor (Aptenodytes forsteri), and rarely Macaroni (Eudyptes chrysolophus) penguins.

On South Georgia, we can see king (A. patagonica), gentoo (P. papua), chinstrap (P. Antarctica), and Macaroni (Eudyptes chrysolophus) penguins.

Whales (this term applies to all whales, dolphins, porpoises, etc.) are air breathing mammals, but have perfected the ability to live entirely in water over the past 50 to 60 million years.

Indo-American Press Club’s 9th International Media Conference Held In Stamford, CT

Media Seminars, Workshops, Motivational Sessions, Awards Gala Dinner, Musical/Cultural Program by Hedge Group with renowned artist from India and the United States, and Networking were the key highlights of the 9th annual International Media Conference organized by the Indo-American Press Club (IAPC) at the Hilton Stamford Convention Center in Stamford, CT from October 7th to 9th, 2023.

The theme for this year’s conference was “Bridging Borders: Media’s Role in a Globalized World,” a topic that holds immense significance in today’s interconnected and rapidly changing world. Dozens of media persons from the United States, Canada and India participated at the power packed conference which included workshops and panel discussions on social media influencing and defamation laws and a motivational talk by a corporate trainer on ‘Emotional Intelligence: How to Become a Success Magnet.’

In his inaugural address, Kamlesh C. Mehta, Chairman of IAPC said, “It is an absolute honor to stand before you as the Chairman of this prestigious organization. I am deeply humbled by the opportunity to address this gathering of media professionals, journalists, and distinguished guests. The Indo-American Press Club has always been at the forefront of promoting cultural exchange, fostering dialogue, and encouraging collaboration between India and the United States. This conference embodies our commitment to these ideals.”

Mr. Mehta said, “In the spirit of our conference’s theme, let us pledge to continue building bridges, not walls. Let us commit to facilitating open and honest dialogues that transcend boundaries and promote mutual respect. Let us strive for a world where information is a force for unity, not division. I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all the speakers, panelists, and participants who have traveled from near and far to share their insights and expertise during this conference. Your contributions will undoubtedly enrich our discussions and contribute to the growth of the Indo-American Press Club as a platform for constructive dialogue.”

The inaugural ceremony began with a welcome speech by IAPC General Secretary C G Daniel and was followed by the lighting of the lamp by IAPC leaders and local Chapter leaders. Ginsmon Zachariah, founder chairman of IAPOC administered the oath of office to a dozen new members, who joined IAPC as its new members.

Prof. Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox, in her keynote address said, “This is a particular honor for me because I feel connected to this community and this work for two reasons. First, as the child of Indian immigrants, I see the world through a kind of duality of cultures. Culturally, my values reflect a South Asian immigrant household that recognizes the role of education in breaking down barriers, the role of communities in uplifting the individual, and the centrality of family in the background of every personal and professional opportunity. My values also reflect a commitment to democracy, equality, and justice that come from my lifelong engagement with the United States Constitution.”

Prof. Gadkar-Wilcox reminded the media persons that “Journalists provide the foundations of that democratic culture, by enabling facts to be presented, truths to be told, and vulnerabilities to be exposed. And you bring a particularly unique voice to this work, as I have learned that I bring to public life, because you live in this duality as well. You understand both global and local perspectives and you bring that intersectionality to life in your stories. Thank you for all that you do to help strengthen our democracy.”

According to Prof. Gadkar-Wilcox, “Journalism provides us an opportunity to strengthen human rights by strengthening our democracy. Journalism educates, it helps people relate to one another, and brings together those who may be different, but who can advocate for a common cause. Thank you for helping us all maintain that commitment to democracy and human rights! And thank you for educating the public!”

Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox is Chair of the Department of Justice and Law, and Associate Professor of Legal Studies at Quinnipiac University. She is also Executive Director of the Oxford Consortium for Human Rights and a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar. Sujata was recently appointed by Governor Ned Lamont to serve as a Commissioner on the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities in Connecticut (CHRO).

The first day of the conference came to a close with a colorful and thrillingly enjoyable  musical and dance extravaganza presented by RHYTHM 2023, led by Anna Prasad, Aishwarya Devan, Vidya Vinu Mohan, Abhijith, Kalpana (Choreographer) George (Keyboard) and Sunitha- Dance Co Ordinator. Jacob Abraham from the popular Hedge Funds Entertainment hosted the evening cultural show. The inaugural event on the first day ended with the Vote of Thanks proposed by IAPC Treasurer, Joji Kavanal.

In her keynote address during the Awards Gala, Meera Gandhi spoke about “The Role Of Media In A Polarized World”  and drew the attention of the audience to the fact that “Most news organizations today aspire to a goal of delivering quality information that can promote healthy dialogue among members of the communities some succeed better than others, but it’s more challenging to do this in a society today, in the midst of partisan, polarization, culture wars, foreign campaigns using technology platforms to divide, there is a shortage of moderate voices among political leaders, and no shortage of activists exploiting, extreme and divisive rhetoric “

Ms. Gandhi suggested 3 strategies to reach polarized audiences: “1.affirm a common sense of humanity deeply understand we are one consciousness, and one human connected by breath. This will affect your reporting; 2. story framing have conversations within your news rooms before putting out stories so that better framing could have power to deliver more truthful information to polarized audiences; and, 3. Do richer interiors. Avoid divisive, nuances and softer textures should be used to discuss potential problems in a non-divisive manner.”

Ms. Gandhi reminded the media persons that “The future of millions of people are in your hands you the press, the journalists, the media outlets, the O TP platforms – you have a very serious responsibility —do not handed over to demagogues and self-interest people. We are an amazing race let’s stay connected, undivided, happy and informed. You the journalist here today can make this happen. I salute all your efforts!”

Ginsmon Zachariah said, “IAPC members are dedicated to fulfilling the vision of enhancing their own journalistic skills, while striving to help fellow journalists and future generations work towards the common cause of enhancing the well-being and efficiency of all peoples of the world.”

In his welcome address, Ajay Ghosh, Secretary of the Board of Directors, IAPC said, “IAPC was formed to bring together media groups and the Indian media fraternity, across North America, under one umbrella, to work together, support one another, and provide a unified voice to the mainstream media world and the larger community.”

Among the distinguished guests who attended and graced the Conference included, Ms. Nimmi Mehta, Advocate A. Jayashankar, PP James, Editor in Charge at 24 News,  V. Aravind, Assistant Executive Editor at 24 News.

An IAPC souvenir 2023 was released during the Conference. Its editorial team led by Dr. Mathew Joys, a well-known writer and Columnist in North America, and Shan Justus, a tech expert presented the 1st copy to IAPC Chairman Kamalesh Metha. A book, “Padmasreeyum Swathanthryavum” by Joseph John from Calgary was also released during the Conference.

Social Media Influencer Awards were presented to: Korason Varghese, a columnist with Malayala Manorama, a leading Malayalam News; Dr. Alice Mathew, a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, known as an inspirational professor and a motivational speaker; and Meera Nair, a Cine actress, poet, dancer, writer, and media person. Joseph John Calgary, a freelance journalist and founding member of the Canadian Freelance Guild and CWA Canada was presented with Community Leader Award.

The Essay Competition Prize winner in Senior Category was Gautham Krishna Saji, 11th Grade Midwood High School, NY for his Essay on: PRESS FREEDOM IN DANGER. The winner in the in Juniors Category was Sameera Kavanal, 9th Grade, Yorktown High School, NY for her essay on: WHY I LIKE/DISLIKE SOCIAL MEDIA. Kaitlyn Dan Thomas, Grade 5 at the Calvary Christian School, Atlanta was given a Prize of Appreciation.

A lively seminar on “Social Media Influencers: Challenges & Scopes” moderated by Dr. Mathew Joys had Adv. Jayasankar, Korason Varughese, Joseph Jøhň (Calgary), Meera Nair, Dr. Alice Mathew, Nisha Jude, P P James and B Aravind as panelists.

Ashok Arora President NRI International Love All, Motivational Speaker, Author, Lawyer, Teacher, Human Rights Activist, Film Maker, and  Mediator offered a special presentation on Media and Legal Issues. Arora spoke in detail about the defamation case on Rahul Gandhi, and answered questions from the audience. Prof. Anil Bhatnagar, a motivational speaker inspired the audience with his power speech.

Able Cherian, a proud supporter of IAPC and coming from Dubai to be part of the Conference was felicitated with a Memento. Also, Regi Philip, Director IAPC, CEO GTE Travels on Stage was felicitated for his support to IAPC.  Felicitation by community leaders and IAPC members included: A. Jayashankar, Jacob Kudasanad, Sunil Manjanikkara and James Chacko. Azad Jayan from IAPC Niagara Chapter proposed the vote of thanks. The Conference was eloquently emceed by Aditi Vyas.

Lifetime Achievement Award

The prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards were conferred during the closing gala on the evening of Sunday the 8th. The honorees who received the awards included:

  • VINAY MAHAJAN (Entrepreneurial Excellence). He is the National President of ITServe Alliance Inc., an association of 2200 + SME US IT companies.
  • Padma Shri H.R. SHAH (Media & Arts), Chairman & CEO of TV Asia Group.
  • MEERA GANDHI (Philanthropist). She is the founder of the Giving Back Foundation and a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor (2015).
  • Dr. SAMPAT SHIVANGI (Community service, medicine). A physician, he is a veteran leader of AAPI, recipient of the PBD Samman Award in 2016 and Ellis Island Medal of Honor 2008.
  • SHAJAN SKARIAH (Excellence in Journalism). He is a promoter and editor of the online portal “Marunadan Malayali”.
  • Dr. RENU ABRAHAM VARUGHESE (Excellence in Elder Care). She is an Associate Professor at the School of Health and Natural Sciences, Mercy University, NY.

IAPC was formed to unite the Indian diaspora media fraternity across North America under one umbrella to work together, support one another, and provide a unified voice in front of the mainstream media and the larger community. Every year IAPC hosts media conferences bringing together renowned journalists and media professionals from various countries around the world, and hosts workshops and seminars. For information regarding IAPC, please visit: www.indoamericanpressclub.org

Vinay Mahajan Honored With IAPC ‘s Lifetime Achievement Award

Vinay Mahajan, the national President of ITServeAlliance Inc., an association of 2200 + SME US IT companies was honored with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award during the 9th annual Gala and Awards ceremony organized by the Indo-American Press Club on Sunday, October 8th, 2023 at the Stamford Hilton, CT.

 Vinay Mahajan is the President & CEO of NAM Info Inc, a software services firm dealing in software consulting and ongoing software development projects, As the head of this multi-national company, Mahajan led the development team for approval of two patents for SAFE, a fire safety APP for high rise buildings. Current projects under development are AI application APAR and browser based universal communication. He recently acquired a company in Telecom Services space.

An Engineering Graduate and MBA from premier institutes, Mahajan is a serial entrepreneur with over 40 years of industry experience in leadership, marketing, finance, and engineering, creating and building multiple entities. Entrepreneurial expertise through 100+ Communication/IVR/Call Centers software projects across India, and Healthcare Practice Management Software in the United States.

Mr. Mahajan received the award from IAPC Chairman Mr: Kamalesh Metha.  In his address, Mr. Mahajan highlighted the many noble initiatives undertaken by ITSErve since its inception in 2010. “ITServe has grown and strengthened in its mission in protecting members interest, enhancing membership benefits, empowering local employment, empowering local community through various CSR programs including STEM education, and empowering ecosystem of innovation and thus maintaining the leadership of US in Technology,” Mr. Mahajan said.

Travelling to all the 21 Chapters across the United States in 8 months after he assumed office, Mr. Mahajan was instrumental in achieving membership to newer heights with more than 700+ New members added in 2023. Two new Chapters were launched under his leadership. He strengthened STEM Education program by adding STEM Training and Internship programs and enhancing STEM scholarships program.

“IT Serve Alliance is led by highly talented individuals, phenomenally successful entrepreneurs, and Innovators who are enthusiastic about giving back to the community,” Mr. Kahajan said.

Others who were bestowed with Lifetime Achievement Awards during the Gala included;

  • Padma Shri H.R. SHAH (Media & Arts), Chairman & CEO of TV Asia Group.
  • MEERA GANDHI (Philanthropist). She is the founder of the Giving Back Foundation and a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor (2015).
  • SAMPAT SHIVANGI (Community service, medicine). A physician, he is a veteran leader of AAPI, recipient of the PBD Samman Award in 2016 and Ellis Island Medal of Honor 2008.
  • SHAJAN SKARIAH (Excellence in Journalism). He is a promoter and editor of the online portal “Marunadan Malayali”.
  • RENU ABRAHAM VARUGHESE (Excellence in Elder Care). She is an Associate Professor at the School of Health and Natural Sciences, Mercy University, NY.

IAPC was formed to unite the Indian diaspora media fraternity across North America under one umbrella to work together, support one another, and provide a unified voice in front of the mainstream media and the larger community. Every year IAPC hosts media conferences bringing together renowned journalists and media professionals from various countries around the world, and hosts workshops and seminars. For information regarding IAPC, please visit: www.indoamericanpressclub.org

Hamas’ Surprise Attack Forces Reassessment of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

On October 7th, Israel experienced a shockingly unexpected attack, reminiscent of the 1973 October War, which brought the nation to the brink 50 years ago. This recent assault by Hamas from the Gaza Strip, occurring on a holiday morning and taking Israel off guard, draws parallels with historical conflicts that reshaped their respective landscapes. Similar to the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War, the Hamas attack demonstrated unforeseen capacities, briefly overwhelming a superior military, and prompting a reevaluation of the conflict’s nature.

The prevailing assumption in Israel that the Palestinian conflict could be “managed” rather than resolved is now in question. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discarded this notion, declaring that the country was “at war,” not engaged in a mere operation or round of conflict. This shift in perspective has far-reaching implications, not only for Israel but also for global political and military leaders who must reconsider the potential outcomes of this conflict.

This attack has cast doubt on a potential peace deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia that hinged on the presumed acceptance of the status quo by the occupied Palestinians. It also challenges America’s longstanding hope to shift its focus away from the Middle East and rekindles the competition between global powers in the region. Once again, Israel and the Palestinians become pivotal players in the near future of geopolitics.

Picture: France 24

Israel had grown accustomed to brief, one-sided battles with Gaza militants, often fought using drones or fighter jets. Israeli officials even humorously referred to these encounters as “cutting the grass.” This routine became a stark military aspect of “managing the conflict,” a strategy that has dominated for decades. It operates on the assumption that there is no political solution to the contest for land between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians, both of whom lay claim to the same territory.

In the West Bank, home to 3 million Palestinians and around 500,000 Jewish settlers, much of the management falls under the purview of a robust internal security apparatus overseen by Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen. Abbas wagered that quelling violent resistance, including from Hamas, a rival to his Fatah party, would lead to negotiations resulting in a Palestinian state. However, this bet has not paid off.

Unlike the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, housing 2.2 million Palestinians, saw the departure of Jewish settlers and the Israeli military in 2005. Since then, it has been governed by Hamas, or the Islamic Resistance Movement, and sealed off by Israel. While Israel exerts control over Gaza’s power supply, telephone systems, and much of its economy, managing it has proven more challenging. Poverty is widespread, and the young population has limited options for leaving. Israeli security relied heavily on fences and walls, which Hamas guerrillas tunneled under in 2014 and demolished on October 7th, using paragliders.

The events that followed have left a deep impact on Israelis, who, in addition to possessing the region’s most powerful military, carry a reservoir of trauma. In the chaotic hours of that Sabbath morning, everything was overwhelmed: the Israel Defense Force, the Iron Dome missile defense system, and the sense of security that had led hundreds of young people to an overnight rave in the desert where the paragliders landed and opened fire. Some of these terrified revelers became among the approximately 100 hostages, including Israelis and foreign citizens, taken into Gaza.

The abduction of individuals, including the bodies of soldiers, has been a recurring tactic in the asymmetrical warfare faced by Israel. It provides bargaining leverage following hit-and-run operations. These actions, along with civilian casualties, ensure sympathy for Israel and afford it latitude in its responses. Prime Minister Netanyahu vowed to turn parts of Gaza “to rubble,” but doing so while dozens of Israeli hostages are in harm’s way presents a complex challenge.

The surprise attack by Hamas on Israel has shattered assumptions about managing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It has led to a shift in perspective from “management” to being officially “at war.” This development has far-reaching implications, influencing not only the regional dynamics but also global politics. The events that unfolded on that fateful day have left deep scars on the collective psyche of Israelis, and the situation remains fluid, with complex challenges ahead.

RFK Jr. Announces Independent Run For President

Republicans launched an attack on Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Monday as the prominent environmental attorney and anti-vaccine activist officially announced his independent bid for the White House. This move has stirred concerns among conservatives that Kennedy, a former Democrat, could siphon votes away from former President Donald Trump in the 2024 election.

The Republican National Committee and Trump’s campaign wasted no time in critiquing Kennedy’s liberal background. Meanwhile, national Democrats remained silent on the matter as Kennedy made it clear in a speech in Philadelphia that he was distancing himself from both political parties.

Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung issued a statement cautioning voters not to be misled by those who feign conservative values. Cheung described Kennedy’s campaign as a “vanity project for a liberal Kennedy looking to cash in on his family’s name.”

This strong reaction highlights the uncertainty surrounding Kennedy’s much-anticipated decision to run as an independent. While it is likely to impact the 2024 race, which is shaping up to be a rematch between Trump and President Joe Biden, the exact implications remain unclear.

Kennedy, a member of one of the most renowned families in Democratic politics, initially pursued an improbable primary bid and surprisingly held more favorability among Republicans than Democrats. Even Trump himself had expressed his positive opinion of Kennedy just two weeks prior, stating, “I like him a lot. I’ve known him for a long time.”

Both Biden and Trump’s allies had, at times, questioned whether Kennedy would act as a spoiler against their respective candidates. Kennedy acknowledged both sides’ concerns, stating, “The truth is, they’re both right. My intention is to spoil it for both of them.”

Picture: WPTV

Speaking from Philadelphia’s Independence Mall, where America’s founding documents were adopted, Kennedy emphasized his desire to distance himself from either political party. He spoke of a “rising tide of discontent” in the nation and expressed his aim to make a “new declaration of independence” from corporations, the media, and the two major political parties.

Hundreds of supporters, holding signs with slogans like “Declare your independence,” and chanting “RFK, all the way!” were enthusiastic about his decision. His supporters comprised a diverse mix of disillusioned Democrats, Trump voters seeking change, and political outsiders whose beliefs did not align with any single party. They believed that Kennedy could bring them together.

Peter Pantazis, a 40-year-old business owner from Delaware, expressed his optimism, saying, “He’s going to win. I’ve been praying that he’s going to decentralize the campaign, get away from the party system, and actually be the candidate of the people for the people. And that’s what he announced today.”

Brent Snyder, a disabled veteran from south Philadelphia, stated, “The last couple of years I’ve been noticing the Republican Party’s been going a way I didn’t like. Not that I agree with everything that’s happening to Trump, but I think right now he has more baggage than his country needs. The division right now is just terrible. We need someone to bring both sides together to make us work.”

The atmosphere among the crowd was filled with joy, hope, and occasionally, the faint scent of marijuana. Kennedy invoked historical figures like John Adams and George Washington to make a case for unity and warned against the pitfalls of partisan politics.

However, Kennedy’s independent campaign faces significant challenges in competing with the well-funded, experienced campaigns of Trump and Biden. During his announcement, there was a brief delay when he found that his speech was loaded upside-down in the teleprompter.

Kennedy’s decision to run independently comes shortly after progressive activist Cornel West abandoned his Green Party bid in favor of an independent presidential run. Additionally, the centrist group No Labels is actively working to secure ballot access for an unnamed candidate.

Recognizing the risk that Kennedy might draw votes away from Republicans, Trump’s allies have begun circulating opposition research aimed at undermining his support among conservative voters. The Republican National Committee released a fact sheet titled “Radical DEMOCRAT RFK Jr.” that highlighted instances of Kennedy’s support for liberal politicians and ideas, as well as his endorsement of conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 and past election claims.

On the other hand, Biden’s allies have largely dismissed Kennedy’s primary campaign as unserious. When asked for comment before the announcement, a Democratic National Committee spokesman responded with an eye-roll emoji. The DNC declined to comment on Monday.

Four of Kennedy’s eight surviving siblings issued a joint statement denouncing his candidacy, expressing concern about the potential harm it could cause to the country. They emphasized that while Bobby shares their family name, his values, vision, and judgment differ significantly from theirs.

Tony Lyons, co-founder and co-chairman of American Values 2024, a super PAC supporting Kennedy, dismissed these comments as part of a strategy to discredit him. He pointed out that disagreements within families are a natural part of democracy.

While Kennedy has historically identified as a Democrat and often invoked the legacies of his late father, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, on the campaign trail, he has also developed relationships with far-right figures in recent years. He appeared on a channel associated with Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and headlined an event on the ReAwaken America Tour, organized by Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Polls indicate that Kennedy is more favorably viewed by Republicans than Democrats. Some far-right conservatives have supported him for his fringe views, including his vocal distrust of COVID-19 vaccines, despite scientific evidence demonstrating their safety and effectiveness in preventing severe disease and death.

Kennedy’s anti-vaccine organization, Children’s Health Defense, is currently involved in a lawsuit against several news organizations, including The Associated Press, alleging antitrust violations related to their actions in countering misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines. Kennedy had temporarily stepped away from the group upon announcing his presidential run, but he is listed as one of its attorneys in the lawsuit.

Dr. Avinash Gupta Elected President Of FIA For 2024

Avinash Gupta, a distinguished Indian-American physician has been elected as the president of the Federation of Indian Associations of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut (FIA) for the year 2024.
FIA held its Annual General Body Meeting on October 4th, 2023 at Akbar Restaurant, Edison in New Jersey. Present on the occasion were the FIA’s board of Trustees, Senior Advisors Mr H.R. Shah & Dr Sudhir Parikh and the Executive Team along with others from different members associations.

Dr. Gupta, who currently holds the positions of Chief of Cardiology, President of Medical Staff at Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus, and Member of the Ocean County Board of Health, previously served as the Executive Vice President of FIA. He has now been elected as the President of this diaspora organization, a long-standing and extensive non-profit grassroots umbrella organization.

The newly unveiled executive team for 2024 includes Saurin Parikh as Executive Vice President, Smita Miki Patel as Vice President, Deepak Goel as 2nd Vice President, Priti Patel as General Secretary, Mahesh Dubal as Joint Secretary, Sanjeev Singh as Treasurer, and Haresh Shah as Joint Treasurer.

FIA Chairman Ankur Vaidya expressed his appreciation for the hard work of the 2023 executive team. Gupta, reflecting on his experience as the FIA Vice President, described it as a valuable learning curve. He expressed his commitment to guiding FIA to new heights during his one-year tenure as president. Collaborating with his new team, Gupta aims to reinforce India-US relations.

Gupta’s vision encompasses several key objectives. He intends to champion the interests and well-being of the Indian diaspora in the United States. This will involve promoting cultural exchange and understanding, advocating for the community’s needs, and solidifying FIA’s role as a non-profit grassroots umbrella organization.

Furthermore, Gupta has articulated his dedication to social welfare projects and humanitarian initiatives. These efforts will not only support the Indian diaspora but also benefit the broader local community.

FIA, a venerable non-profit grassroots organization, revealed its 2024 executive team during its Annual General Meeting. Gupta’s presidency aims to enhance India-US ties, advocate for the Indian diaspora, promote cultural exchange, and engage in social welfare projects.

The newly elected President Dr Avinash Gupta said that he has learnt a lot this year during his tenure as the Vice President and thanked his team for all their support. He said that he looks forward to his tenure and would endeavor hard to take FIA to new heights with the support from his new Executive Team and was sure that all of them together will make their motherland India proud.

Dr Avinash Gupta said, he will work towards promoting the interests and welfare of the Indian diaspora in the US, fostering cultural exchange and understanding, advocating for the community’s needs, and strengthening the organization’s role as a non-profit grassroots umbrella organization. Dr Gupta will work on various social welfare projects and humanitarian efforts to support not only the Indian diaspora but also the broader local community.

Dr. Avinash Gupta, chief of Cardiology and president-elect of the medical staff at Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus (MMCSC) in New Jersey has been elected the Executive Vice President of The Federation of Indian Associations. Current President Kenny Desai will continue in his 2nd term as the President of the FIA.

on Sunday, December 4th, 2023. The general body meeting was to share an overview of the compliance of all member organizations and to assess the overall workings of the FIA and its activities. In addition, the meeting motioned and approved 6 FIA resolutions to the FIA bylaws.

Dr. Avinash Gupta was awarded the Humanitarian Award in October this year, for his exemplary work in public health and social service during the pandemic, in the U.S. and in India. He is an alumni of the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences in Ranchi

In the U.S., Gupta led a team of 50 doctors and healthcare professionals to vaccinate 3,500 Indian Americans in Ocean County, New Jersey. As a president of Monmouth Country American Association of Physicians from India (AAPI), he helped raise $150,000 to Monmouth and Ocean County Food Bank. Gupta led the community leaders’ team in establishing the Siddhivinayak Temple and Indian Cultural Center in Toms River in 2012.

Dr. Gupta is very active in community service and has served as President of the Monmouth Ocean County Association of Physicians from India (MOCAAPI) and Bihar Jharkhand Association of North America (BJANA).

He also holds the prestigious title of Chief of Cardiology at Monmouth Medical Center and President of the Medical Staff at Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus.
He is chairman of Shree Siddhivinayak Temple of USA, Indian Cultural & Community Center in Toms River, and was recently elected as Executive Vice President of FIA.

Dr. Gupta was recently honored for his exemplary work in public health and social service, especially for COVID-19-related relief and humanitarian work in India and the US. “Being involved with community groups and helping others has always been my passion. Community service is very rewarding and fulfilling. It has enriched me as a person,” said Gupta who received the humanitarian award from the Monmouth Medical Center-Southern Campus Gupta at a function in New Jersey on Diwali eve.

Dr. Gupta is married to Dr. Geeta Gupta for over 35 years.  They have one son, Abhinav who is currently in his surgical residency. Dr. Gupta has made numerous contributions to healthcare, including initiatives both in the local area and in India to promote vaccinations against COVID-19. He was recognized as an honoree at MMCSC Humanitarian Gala in October last year.

FIA’s New Executive Team – 2024

President – Dr Avinash Gupta

Executive Vice President – Mr Saurin Parikh

Vice Presdent – Ms. Smita Miki Patel

General Secretary – Ms. Priti Patel

Jt. Secretary- Mr. Mahesh Dubal

Treasurer – Mr Sanjeev Singh

Jt. Treasurer- Mr. Haresh Shah

Immediate Past President – Mr. Kenny Desai

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.

Government Shutdown Averted With 45 Days Stopgap-Funding Bill Passage

The U.S. Congress passed a stopgap funding bill late on Saturday, September 30, 2023 with overwhelming Democratic support after Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy backed down from an earlier demand by his party’s hardliners for a partisan bill.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced the stopgap proposal Saturday morning, a move that came after weeks of infighting among House Republicans and a failed effort to pass a GOP stopgap bill in the chamber. The bill passed the House with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, and it then was sent to the Senate. The final vote was 88 to 9. The House voted 335-91 to fund the government through Nov. 17, with more Democrats than Republicans supporting it.

The bill will keep the government open through November 17 and includes natural disaster aid but not additional funding for Ukraine or border security. The Bill will help avoid the federal government’s fourth partial shutdown in a decade, sending the bill to President Joe Biden, who signed it into law before the 12:01 a.m on Octpber 1st, 2023.

McCarthy abandoned party hardliners’ insistence that any bill pass the House with only Republican votes, a change that could cause one of his far-right members to try to oust him from his leadership role.

That move marked a profound shift from earlier in the week, when a shutdown looked all but inevitable. A shutdown would mean that most of the government’s 4 million employees would not get paid – whether they were working or not – and also would shutter a range of federal services, from National Parks to financial regulators.

The decision by McCarthy to put a bill on the floor that would win support from Democrats could put his speakership at risk as hardline conservatives continue to threaten a vote to oust him from the top House leadership post.

McCarthy was defiant after the vote, daring his detractors to try to push him out as he argued he did what was needed to govern effectively.

“If somebody wants to make a motion against me, bring it,” McCarthy told CNN’s Manu Raju at a news conference. “There has to be an adult in the room. I am going to govern with what’s best for this country.”

Federal agencies had already drawn up detailed plans that spell out what services would continue, such as airport screening and border patrols, and what must shut down, including scientific research and nutrition aid to 7 million poor mothers.

“The American people can breathe a sigh of relief: there will be no government shutdown tonight,” Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said after the vote. “Democrats have said from the start that the only solution for avoiding a shutdown is bipartisanship, and we are glad Speaker McCarthy has finally heeded our message.”

DEMOCRATS CALL IT A WIN

Some 209 Democrats supported the bill, far more than the 126 Republicans who did so, and Democrats described the result as a win.

“Extreme MAGA Republicans have lost, the American people have won,” top House Democrat Hakeem Jeffries told reporters ahead of the vote, referring to the “Make America Great Again” slogan used by former President Donald Trump and many hardline Republicans.

Democratic Representative Don Beyer said: “I am relieved that Speaker McCarthy folded and finally allowed a bipartisan vote at the 11th hour on legislation to stop Republicans’ rush to a disastrous shutdown.”

McCarthy’s shift won the support of top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, who had backed a similar measure that was moving through the Senate with broad bipartisan support, even though the House version dropped aid for Ukraine.

Democratic Senator Michael Bennett held the bill up for several hours trying to negotiate a deal for further Ukraine aid.

“While I would have preferred to pass a bill now with additional assistance for Ukraine, which has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, it is easier to help Ukraine with the government open than if it were closed,” Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen said in a statement.

McCarthy dismissed concerns that hardline Republicans could try to oust him as leader.

“I want to be the adult in the room, go ahead and try,” McCarthy told reporters. “And you know what? If I have to risk my job for standing up for the American public, I will do that.”

He said that House Republicans would push ahead with plans to pass more funding bills that would cut spending and include other conservative priorities, such as tighter border controls.

CREDIT CONCERNS

The standoff comes just months after Congress brought the federal government to the brink of defaulting on its $31.4 trillion debt. The drama has raised worries on Wall Street, where the Moody’s ratings agency has warned it could damage U.S. creditworthiness.

Congress typically passes stopgap spending bills to buy more time to negotiate the detailed legislation that sets funding for federal programs.

This year, a group of Republicans has blocked action in the House as they have pressed to tighten immigration and cut spending below levels agreed to in the debt-ceiling standoff in the spring.

The McCarthy-Biden deal that avoided default set a limit of $1.59 trillion in discretionary spending in fiscal 2024. House Republicans are demanding a further $120 billion in cuts.

The funding fight focuses on a relatively small slice of the $6.4 trillion U.S. budget for this fiscal year. Lawmakers are not considering cuts to popular benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

“We should never have been in this position in the first place. Just a few months ago, Speaker McCarthy and I reached a budget agreement to avoid precisely this type of manufactured crisis,” Biden said in a statement after the vote. “House Republicans tried to walk away from that deal by demanding drastic cuts that would have been devastating for millions of Americans. They failed.” (Reuters)

Dianne Feinstein, ‘A Trailblazer In Every Sense Of That Word’

The United States Senate has mourned the loss of one of its most prominent figures, as Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) passed away at her residence in Washington, D.C. at the age of 90. Her death marks the conclusion of a lengthy and illustrious political career that played a crucial role in paving the way for women to attain higher echelons of political authority in the United States.

Senator Feinstein passed away on Thursday night, September 28, 2023 at the age of 90, shortly after casting her final vote, a moment that senators commemorated with heartfelt speeches. Emotions ran high as several senators, standing just a few feet from Feinstein’s Senate desk, which was draped in black and adorned with a crystal vase filled with white flowers, spoke about their esteemed colleague.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) paid tribute to her, saying, “She was smart, she was strong, she was brave, she was compassionate,” his voice occasionally quivering with emotion. He emphasized her “integrity” as the standout quality, describing it as a “diamond” that shone brightly not only in the Senate but also across the nation.

Throughout her career, Senator Feinstein shattered glass ceilings. She was the first woman to represent California in the Senate, the first woman to chair the Senate Judiciary, Rules, and Intelligence Committees, and the first woman to serve as mayor of San Francisco. She was part of the historic 1992 class of women elected to the Senate, often referred to as the “Year of the Woman,” alongside Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), and Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Ill.), which increased the number of women in the Senate from two to six. This number later surged to 25 by the start of the 118th Congress, with Feinstein cited as a significant influence.

Picture: The Hill

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) praised Feinstein as a role model and highlighted her ability to foster bipartisan relationships, especially among female senators, both on and off Capitol Hill.

Feinstein also achieved the distinction of being the longest-serving woman in Senate history at the time of her passing, being likened to titanic figures of the Senate such as Senators Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.).

One of her most notable legislative accomplishments was the passage of the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban, signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton. This legislation prohibited the sale and manufacture of assault-style weapons for a decade, despite fierce opposition from the National Rifle Association (NRA). Schumer recalled the NRA’s relentless opposition but praised Feinstein for her unwavering stance against them.

While the ban expired in 2004, a 2020 academic study suggested that the number of mass shootings increased after its lapse. However, the effectiveness of the assault weapons ban remains a subject of contentious debate, and subsequent attempts to pass similar legislation failed, even in the wake of high-profile shootings involving AR-15-style weapons.

Senator Feinstein also played a pivotal role in opposing the U.S. government’s use of torture during the global war on terror that followed the September 11, 2001, attacks. In 2014, she released the Intelligence Committee’s report, which documented the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” against detainees, including waterboarding and sleep deprivation. This report raised doubts about the effectiveness of such tactics in gathering intelligence.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) recounted the intense struggle to complete the report, as it faced opposition from the Central Intelligence Agency. Feinstein’s stand against torture techniques earned her praise, with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) commending her for her courage.

Feinstein wasn’t afraid to deviate from her party’s leaders on occasion. In 2009, she broke with party leaders who hesitated to seat Roland Burris (D-Ill.) as Senator Barack Obama’s replacement due to ethical concerns surrounding then-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s handling of the appointment. Feinstein argued that refusing to seat Burris would undermine gubernatorial power, a position that may have played a role in preserving California Governor Gavin Newsom’s authority to appoint her successor.

Throughout her career, Feinstein’s tenacity in pursuing policy goals and her ability to withstand political challenges earned her the nickname “Ali and Frazier” alongside Senator Barbara Boxer. Her personal touch and ability to foster camaraderie were also celebrated, with colleagues recalling warm interactions and gestures of kindness, such as ordering a purse for a fellow senator.

Senator Feinstein’s passing marks the end of an era in the Senate, leaving behind a legacy of trailblazing accomplishments and a commitment to integrity and principled leadership that will be remembered for generations to come.

The Largest Hindu Temple On American Opens Its Doors

After a lengthy period of planning and construction spanning 12 years, the grandest Hindu temple outside of India is poised to open its doors to the public in October. The BAPS Akshardham, located in Robbinsville, New Jersey, will be the third of its kind, following the temples in Gujarat and New Delhi, with the latter being recognized as the largest Hindu temple complex globally.

This architectural marvel, known as Akshardham, which translates to the “abode of the Divine,” is a testament to the harmonious blend of ancient scriptural principles and the intricacies of New Jersey zoning regulations. Sprawling across a vast 183-acre expanse, the New Jersey Akshardham includes a Maha Mandir (main temple), a traditional temple, a welcome center, a museum, and an event space.

Chaitali Inamdar, a devoted member of the Hindu community, expressed the significance of this achievement: “Having this Akshardham here on American soil is not just the triumph of a community or the triumph of the diaspora — it is the triumph of the nation.”

The construction of the New Jersey Akshardham has garnered significant attention from the Hindu American community over the past decade. However, it has also been marred by legal matters, specifically a lawsuit alleging forced labor within the BAPS organization, which arose in 2021. Although the lawsuit is currently on hold, it has raised important questions about distinguishing between unpaid work and selfless service in the name of the Divine.

Members of the BAPS community are renowned for their commitment to selfless service, known as “seva,” which they consider an act of devotion to God. Through their seva, BAPS has established an impressive network of 100 temples across the United States. Furthermore, the sampradaya, or Hindu sect, is poised to celebrate its 50th anniversary in North America next year.

Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, commonly referred to as BAPS, is a Hindu tradition that follows the teachings of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. According to their beliefs, Bhagwan Swaminarayan is present on Earth through six spiritual leaders, with Mahant Swami Maharaj currently holding this role.

Devotees explain that Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the fifth spiritual successor, envisioned the creation of a magnificent spiritual campus in the United States when he assumed leadership of BAPS in 1971. Inamdar, a chemical engineer and BAPS member, stated, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s ultimate singular vision [was] that, no matter which belief, which background you come from, this place is here to enrich everybody and allow everybody to feel peace and inspiration. The Akshardham is truly allowing the world to be one family.”

Visitors to the New Jersey Akshardham will enter through the Nilkanth Plaza, named after Swaminarayan’s teenage form, Nilkanth Varni, who is said to have traveled across India to revive the principles of Sanātana Dharma, or Hinduism. Dominating the entrance is a towering 49-foot statue of Nilkanth Varni, representing his 49 years on Earth.

Picture :WP

The Welcome Center, which connects to the vegetarian Shayona Cafe, immerses visitors in Indian celebrations and artistry. Thousands of “diyas” (lights) adorn the walls, creating a vibrant atmosphere. The scent of incense and the resonance of Sanskrit chants fill the air around the Brahm Kund pond, paying homage to the sacred waters of India. Remarkably, waters from rivers spanning all 50 states have been brought to New Jersey by dedicated volunteers.

Over 12,500 volunteers from diverse cultural backgrounds and faiths came together from across North America and the world to construct the Maha Mandir. This remarkable structure was meticulously crafted from white sandstone, limestone, marble, and granite by temple artisans in India. Adorning the four characteristic domes of the Mandir are nine shikharas or spires, each themed to represent different aspects of Hindu scriptures, including Vedic astrology.

Within the Mandir entrance, statues of dancers, musicians, and musical instruments serve as reminders of the importance of song and dance in Hindu traditions. Notably, this will be the first structure to showcase all 108 poses of the ancient Hindu dance form Bharatanatyam.

Some volunteers dedicated up to two weeks to this monumental project, while others, like 27-year-old Arjun Pandya, felt compelled to stay for two years. Pandya temporarily paused his career in corporate finance at Amazon to undertake seva in Robbinsville. Reflecting on his experience, Pandya said, “To have an opportunity to build something not only for my family and my community, but for the world, and to make something greater than myself, was very attractive.” He acknowledged that the conclusion of this journey is bittersweet, but the invaluable lessons and friendships he’s gained will remain with him forever.

Pandya eloquently summarized his experience: “I thought I’d be giving time, but I’m now realizing how much I’ve gained, not only in the friendships that I’ve built, but the values that are foundational to me that I’ll take with me forever.”

Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s teachings, according to devotees, emphasize values such as humility, compassion, and harmony. Akshardham will serve as not only a residence for the Swamis of the BAPS faith but also a sanctuary for the deities venerated across the broader Hindu spectrum.

Yagnesh Patel, a devotee originally from Kenya, where the BAPS community grew due to Indian migration patterns during British colonial rule, expressed his thoughts. “Any practicing Hindu, anyone who wants to know more about Hinduism, or even just a friend in my community, I have a place to bring them,” he stated. Patel, who was present with his children 12 years ago when BAPS initiated construction in Robbinsville, participated in the Bhumi Pujan ceremony, a tradition involving offering prayers to Mother Earth and God before commencing construction work. His son and daughter, now in their early twenties, have dedicated their time to Akshardham’s construction. “Both my kids are ideal American citizens, born in America, but they can raise their heads and say, ‘I am an American Hindu, and I am so proud that I was part of a place that many can visit as they come to this country,'” Patel proudly declared. “That has been my proudest moment.”

The construction of Akshardham was a challenging 12-year journey for the thousands of volunteers involved, some of whom arrived in the country on R-1 religious visas. They lived and worked on the mandir campus tirelessly. “It’s nonstop seva,” one worker remarked to another in mid-September, just weeks before the opening.

In 2017 and 2022, two devotees lost their lives while working on the construction, reasons the organization attributed to factors unrelated to safety conditions. As recently as March 2023, the Robbinsville Township police department responded to an offsite BAPS housing unit due to elevated levels of carbon monoxide.

In a headline-making event in May 2021, several volunteers originally from India initiated a class-action lawsuit against BAPS, citing wage theft, unsafe working conditions, and mistreatment of workers. However, the laborers withdrew the lawsuit earlier this year.

“The parties agreed to put the lawsuit on hold pending an investigation with which BAPS continues to cooperate fully,” said Ronak Patel, spokesperson for BAPS Temple Organization. “When the facts emerge, BAPS believes that they will reflect BAPS’ principles of kindness, equity, and respect for all human beings. BAPS continues to pray for all involved.”

Regarding the allegations of unpaid labor, BAPS stressed that worship through seva (selfless service) is at the core of the BAPS community, and the workers came to the U.S. as volunteers, not as employees.

“Because BAPS traditions emphasize serving those who serve, we took care of the artisans’ needs in the U.S., including travel, lodging, food, medical care, and internet and pre-paid phone cards so they could stay in touch with their families in India,” Patel added. “BAPS India also supported the artisans’ families in India, so they did not suffer financial hardship as a result of the artisans’ seva in the U.S.”

For many within the BAPS community, the opening in October represents an opportunity to showcase what can happen when devotees from around the world unite through the common thread of devotion.

“The ability to come together in volunteership, in selfless service, it created a sense of comfort and commonality,” expressed Ashini Parikh, a devotee from Atlanta. She reflected on the exponential increase in American awareness of Hinduism since her childhood as a first-generation kid. Playing a role in Hindu American history, for her, is an incredibly humbling experience.

“I am so proud that we as a community can come together from all walks of life, and we’ve all been able to be a part of this one thing that is going to have ripple effects for so many generations to come,” she remarked. “We all want to leave the planet a better place, and my contributions towards Akshardham allows me to leave the planet a better place well beyond my time.”

5 Takeaways From Another Trump-Free Republican Debate

In the aftermath of the second Republican debate, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida shared his candid assessment of the event while sitting in the spin room with Fox News host Sean Hannity. He remarked, “If I was at home watching that, I would have changed the channel.” The debate unfolded as a meandering and often bewildering spectacle, seemingly validating former President Donald J. Trump’s decision to skip it. Apart from sporadic exceptions, the Republican contenders appeared content to engage in petty disputes among themselves. They largely refrained from delivering significant blows to the dominant front-runner, failing to disrupt the political reality that Mr. Trump continues to overshadow his rivals in national polls.

Here are five key takeaways from the two-hour debate characterized by overlapping conversations, unanswered questions, rehearsed comebacks, and a conspicuous absence of any mention of the legal issues surrounding the favored candidate:

Governor DeSantis of Florida initiated the debate by confronting Mr. Trump on a national stage, asserting, “Donald Trump is missing in action… He should be on this stage tonight. He owes it to you to defend his record where they added $7.8 trillion to the debt. That set the stage for the inflation that we have now.” This direct challenge had been long awaited by some allies and donors. However, as the debate progressed, this statement faded into the background, with candidates mostly choosing to ignore Mr. Trump’s commanding lead.

A pro-Mike Pence super PAC had issued a blunt message to donors before the debate, emphasizing the need to shake up the race. Nevertheless, the debate failed to produce any substantial disruptions, leaving the dynamics of the race largely unaltered. The 91 criminal charges against Mr. Trump went unmentioned, both by the moderators and the candidates ostensibly running against him. While the former president faced more criticism compared to the first debate, the seven candidates onstage spent most of the night engaging in disputes with one another, seemingly vying for the second-place position.

During the debate, Tim Scott directed criticism at Nikki Haley concerning curtains and a gas tax, and Ms. Haley reciprocated by challenging Governor DeSantis on fracking. Vivek Ramaswamy faced scrutiny over his past business dealings with China and was accused by Scott of lacking knowledge about the Constitution. Chris Christie attempted to steer the conversation back towards Mr. Trump, even suggesting at one point that he should be “voted off the island.” However, the overall result was a chaotic and unclear exchange.

Governor DeSantis’s performance aligned with what his supporters had been anticipating. Despite initial criticism from the media about his lack of assertiveness in the first debate, his allies believed it was effective. In this debate, he utilized the sole abortion question of the night to criticize Mr. Trump for his stance on Florida’s restrictive abortion ban. He skillfully sidestepped a question about his previous comments regarding slavery in the state’s curriculum. At the outset, Governor DeSantis appeared confident and in control, mostly avoiding heated arguments. Although he struggled initially to find speaking opportunities, he eventually spoke more than any other candidate. Towards the end, he pushed back against the moderators when they asked candidates to indicate which candidate they would vote “off the island,” deeming the question “disrespectful.”

Despite Governor DeSantis’s assertiveness, his sporadic references to Mr. Trump did little to suggest that he could close the substantial gap between himself and the former president. Shortly after the debate concluded, a senior Trump adviser, Chris LaCivita, called for the cancellation of further debates, indicating that Mr. Trump felt no immediate pressure to enter the debate arena.

Nikki Haley solidified her position at the center stage during the debate. Following her strong performance in the first debate, which had sparked renewed interest from major donors, Ms. Haley appeared comfortable in the spotlight. She took aim at Governor DeSantis and defended herself against attacks from Tim Scott, whom she had appointed to the Senate. She even delivered one of the more memorable lines of the evening, telling Vivek Ramaswamy, “every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber.” Ms. Haley, like Governor DeSantis, took aim at Mr. Trump, suggesting that he had focused on the wrong issues in dealing with China’s growing influence and highlighting areas where he had left America vulnerable. Her rising stature was further confirmed as rivals began to scrutinize elements of her record as governor and United Nations ambassador.

Tim Scott reasserted himself in this debate after fading into the background during the first one. He had experienced a decline in the polls following the initial debate but made a strong comeback. From the beginning of the contest, he actively sought speaking time and integrated his trademark optimism with pointed criticisms directed at both Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley. Notably, he refrained from targeting Mr. Trump. His standout moment came during an exchange with Governor DeSantis on Florida’s curriculum regarding slavery, where he chose to emphasize his life story and emphasize his belief that America is not a racist country.

Vivek Ramaswamy adopted a different approach in this debate compared to the first one. In the prior debate, he gained attention by launching personal attacks on his opponents and accusing them of corruption. However, polling data following the debate did not support the narrative of his victory. Republican voters developed a more negative perception of him, and he struggled in early-state polls compared to his performance in national online polls. Consequently, Ramaswamy adopted a conciliatory tone in this debate, chastising his competitors for attacking each other and repeatedly expressing his respect for them. However, this reinvented persona failed to resonate, as the other candidates at times appeared to bond over their shared disapproval of him. Ms. Haley even elicited laughter from the audience when she remarked that she felt “dumber every time he talked,” while Tim Scott criticized his business ties to China. Overall, aside from the critiques directed at President Biden, the harshest criticisms of the night were aimed at Mr. Ramaswamy.

Mortgage Borrowing Costs Surge, Hitting 23-Year High

In another setback for aspiring homebuyers grappling with an increasingly unaffordable housing market, home loan borrowing costs have once again surged this week, propelling the average long-term U.S. mortgage rate to its highest point in nearly 23 years.

According to Freddie Mac, the average rate on the benchmark 30-year home loan has risen to 7.31%, up from 7.19% just last week. For comparison, a year ago, this rate averaged 6.70%.

For those looking at 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, which are favored by homeowners seeking to refinance, the news isn’t any better. The average rate for these mortgages has climbed to 6.72% from 6.54% last week, and a year ago, it was at 5.96%.

Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist, Sam Khater, commented on this trend, saying, “The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has hit the highest level since the year 2000. However, unlike the turn of the millennium, house prices today are rising alongside mortgage rates, primarily due to low inventory. These headwinds are causing both buyers and sellers to hold out for better circumstances.”

Picture: BNN Breaking

These rising rates are adding significant financial pressure on borrowers, increasing their monthly costs and further limiting their ability to afford homes in a market that’s already unattainable for many Americans. Additionally, these elevated rates are discouraging homeowners who locked in historically low rates two years ago from selling. To put things in perspective, the average rate on a 30-year mortgage has now more than doubled since two years ago when it stood at just 3.01%.

The combination of soaring rates and limited home inventory is exacerbating the affordability crisis, keeping home prices at near all-time highs. This is occurring even as sales of previously owned homes in the U.S. have dropped by 21% during the first eight months of this year compared to the same period in 2022.

This marks the third consecutive week of rising mortgage rates. The weekly average rate on a 30-year mortgage has been above 7% since mid-August and has now reached levels not seen since mid-December 2000, when it averaged 7.42%.

The surge in mortgage rates is closely tied to the increase in the 10-year Treasury yield, which serves as a reference point for lenders when determining loan pricing. Over the past few weeks, the yield on the 10-year Treasury has risen significantly, driven by concerns that the Federal Reserve will maintain higher short-term interest rates for an extended period to combat inflation.

The Federal Reserve has already elevated its main interest rate to levels not seen since 2001 in an effort to tame surging inflation. In addition, it recently indicated that any future rate cuts may be less substantial than previously anticipated.

The prospect of higher interest rates in the long term has led to Treasury yields reaching levels not seen in more than a decade. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, for example, was at 4.61% during midday trading on Wednesday. In contrast, it stood at around 3.50% in May and was a mere 0.50% during the early stages of the pandemic.

It’s important to note that while mortgage rates don’t directly mirror the Federal Reserve’s rate increases, they are strongly influenced by the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. Factors such as investor expectations regarding future inflation, global demand for U.S. Treasuries, and the Federal Reserve’s actions on interest rates all play a role in determining rates for home loans.

Pope Francis Elevates 21 Men To Be Cardinals

Pope Francis created 21 new cardinals at a ritual-filled ceremony Saturday, September 30, 2023, including key figures at the Vatican and in the field who will help enact his reforms and cement his legacy as he enters a crucial new phase in running the Catholic Church.

On a crisp sunny morning filled with cheers from St. Peter’s Square, Francis further expanded his influence on the College of Cardinals who will help him govern and one day elect his successor: With Saturday’s additions, nearly three-quarters of the voting-age “princes of the church” owe their red hats to the Argentine Jesuit.

In his instructions to the new cardinals at the start of the service, Francis said their variety and geographic diversity would serve the church like musicians in an orchestra, where sometimes they play solos, sometimes as an ensemble.

The 86-year-old pope welcomed the new, so-called “Princes of the Church” with mnessage stating, “The College of Cardinals is called to resemble a symphony orchestra, representing the harmony… of the Church,” said Francis, seated under a canopy before the gathered cardinals on the steps of St Peter’s Basilica.

“Diversity is necessary; it is indispensable. However, each sound must contribute to the common design,” said the Argentine Jesuit.

The choice of the new cardinals, who include diplomats, close advisers and administrators, is keenly watched as an indication of the priorities and position of the Church.

One of them could also one day be elected by his peers to succeed Francis, who has left the door open to stepping down in the future should his health warrant it.

Saturday’s ceremony, known as a consistory, is the ninth since Francis in 2013 was named head of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics.

One by one, the scarlet-clad cardinals knelt before the pope, who bestowed on them the two symbols of their high office: a scarlet four-cornered cap known as a biretta, and a cardinal’s ring. To some, a grinning Francis uttered an encouraging “Bravo!” or “Courage!” as he shook their hand.

Picture : NPR

Eighteen of the 21 newly made cardinals are under the age of 80 and thus currently eligible to vote as “cardinal electors” in the next conclave, when Francis’ successor will be decided. They are among 99 cardinal-electors created by Francis, representing about three-quarters of the total.

That has given rise to speculation that the Church’s future spiritual leader will be cast in the same mould as Francis, preaching a more tolerant Church with a greater focus on the poor and marginalised.

Throughout his papacy, Francis has sought to create a more inclusive, universal Church, looking past Europe to clergy in Africa, Asia and Latin America to fill the Church’s highest ranks.

With his latest roster of cardinals, Francis has again looked to the world’s “peripheries” — where Catholicism is growing — while breaking with the practice of promoting archbishops of large, powerful dioceses.

“He is looking for cardinals who correspond to the times,” an informed observer of the Holy See who asked to remain anonymous told AFP ahead of the ceremony. “These are people who have all taken a step away from the Church of the past, who positively ensure a break,” he added.

“This is the richness of the Church, to bring people together, different cultures, different backgrounds, languages,” the Archbishop of Cape Town, Stephen Brislin, told AFP Thursday before his elevation to cardinal.

The variety of cardinals represent “a richness and a variety of experience, and that’s what the Church is all about,” he added. “The Church encompasses all people, not just a certain group of people.”

There are three new cardinals from South America, including two Argentinians, and three from Africa, with the promotion of the archbishops of Juba in South Sudan, Tabora in Tanzania, and Cape Town’s Brislin.

Asia is represented by the Bishop of Penang in Malaysia and the Bishop of Hong Kong, Stephen Chow, who is seen as playing a key role in seeking to improve tense relations between the Vatican and Beijing.

Some of the new cardinals, such as Chow, have experience in sensitive zones of the world where the Holy See hopes to play an important diplomatic role. The list also includes the Holy Land’s top Catholic authority, Italian Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the first sitting Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem to be made cardinal.

“Jerusalem is a small laboratory, interreligious and intercultural, and that’s a challenge that the whole world is facing at this point,” Pizzaballa told AFP.

Also promoted was the apostolic nuncio, or ambassador, to the United States, France’s Christophe Pierre, whose decades-long diplomatic career includes posts in countries including Haiti, Uganda and Mexico.

Francis also tapped top administrators in the Curia, the Holy See’s government. His new choices include Claudio Gugerotti, the Italian prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches; Argentina’s Victor Manuel Fernandez, whom Francis recently named head of the powerful Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith; and Chicago-born Robert Prevost, a former missionary in Peru who leads the Dicastery for Bishops. Following the ceremony, the new cardinals were congratulated by members of the public at the Vatican’s sumptuous Apostolic Palace.

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.”

Recommendations

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.

World Heart Day, September 29
Heart Disease Among Indian Diaspora

An Interview with Indo-US Resuscitation Advocate: Vemuri S Murthy, MD
Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD) are the leading cause of death and disability among people of Indian origin. The CVD epidemic in Indians is characterized by a higher relative risk burden, an earlier age of onset, higher case fatality and higher premature deaths. For decades, researchers have been trying to understand the reason for this increased burden and propensity of CVD among Indians.
September 29th every year is marked as the “World Heart Day.” Dr. Vemuri S Murthy, in an exclusive interview with our readers, talks about the factors causing Cardiovascular Diseases, the ways to prevent it, and the available treatment modalities.
Picture : TheUNN

Odisha is the first Indian State to officially launch a statewide CPR training project (community, police, and high school/college students), which was inaugurated by the Hon’ble Chief Minister Mr. Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar on February 2, 2023, supported by Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organizations, Odisha, and Sri Jagannatha Service Foundation,

Dr. Murthy is an Associate Professor (Adjunct) in Emergency Medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, USA. He is an Honorary Advisor (CPR) to the Government of Odisha (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) and a Visiting Professor to Indian Medical Institutions such as AIIMS (Mangalagiri, Andhra Pradesh).

A longtime American Heart Association (AHA) International Training Center Faculty and Advisor, Dr. Murthy has been involved with teaching and training Basic and Advanced Cardiac Life Support courses and Community Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) initiatives for more than two decades in India and USA. He has also been involved with Indian Cardiac Arrest Research Projects affiliating with Indian Resuscitation experts.

Q. Good morning, Dr. Murthy. We are happy to have you with us today to discuss the number one Global Killer “Cardiovascular Disease” with a focus on Indians and Indian diaspora on the occasion of the “World Heart Day” on September 29.

A. Thank you! As you may be aware, “World Heart Day” is a global, multi-country, multi-lingual celebration day that was initiated by the World Heart Federation (WHF) in 1999 in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise awareness of Heart Disease and reminding everybody “to take care of their Hearts.” The theme for World Heart Day 2023 is “Use Heart for Every Heart”.

Q. Can you elaborate on the impact of Heart Disease in the World and India?

A. Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is a disease of the Heart and the Blood Vessels leading to Heart Attack, Stroke, and Heart Failure, resulting in the deaths of about 20.5 million people annually in the world. 80% of these deaths are preventable.

According to the Cardiological Society of India (CSI), 36% of deaths in India are due to heart disease. The incidence of heart disease among Indians is 50-400% higher than other ethnic groups. About 50% of heart attacks occur in Indian men under the age of 50 years. 25% occur under 40 years. Indians (as South Asian Ethnic group) are more susceptible to heart disease than any other ethnic counterparts. More than 4200 sudden cardiac arrests occur per one lakh of the population in India annually, heart disease being the major contributor. 30-40% of these deaths occur between 35-64 years of age.

Q. What is the difference between a “Heart Attack” and a “Cardiac Arrest”?

A “Heart Attack” is due to obstruction of blood flow (block) in the Heart’s blood vessels (coronary arteries). The heart muscle starts dying quickly after a heart attack. A heart attack can lead to sudden cardiac arrest and death. Sudden Cardiac Arrest, SCA, (stoppage of the Heart) is Heart’s electrical activity failure due to several causes, primarily a heart attack.

Q. What are the other causes of Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Besides a heart attack, sudden stoppage of the Heart can happen due to congenital abnormalities of the Heart, such as “Cardiomyopathies” (involving the heart muscle), valves and blood vessels of the Heart, infections of the Heart and electrolyte abnormalities (esp. Potassium and Sodium), drug overdose (Narcotics like Fentanyl, Cocaine and recreational street drugs), and sudden “injury or blow” to the chest (Commotio Cordis).

Commotio Cordis needs a special mention here. It’s due to sudden impact injury to the chest seen commonly in sports such as Cricket, Baseball, and Hockey. I can quote several anecdotes about Commotio Cordis (Sudden Cardiac Arrests) that were managed immediately on the spot with Bystander Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) with complete recovery. It’s sad to see anybody of any age dying due to Sudden Cardiac Arrests due to lack of immediate “simple” help through “Bystander Hands-only or Compressions-only CPR.”

Q. How do you recognize a “Heart Attack”?

A. A “Classical” Heart Attack seen in the majority of people (especially men) is experienced as chest pain (mild, moderate, or severe) or discomfort (pressure or squeezing sensation) that radiates to the left shoulder, arm, back of chest, jaw/teeth. It may or may not be associated with sweating, nausea, dizziness, heartburn, or shortness of breath. Rarely, during “Silent Heart Attacks,” none of these symptoms may exist or are minimally experienced.

Heart attacks in women need special attention. Most women experience “shortness of breath” instead of chest pain, which is common in men. This is an important evidenced-based information in light of the known fact that women’s heart attacks are under-addressed, under-diagnosed, and under-treated globally.

Q. How do you know if somebody is in Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

A. Firstly, any person of any age can have “Sudden Cardiac Arrest” anywhere and at any time.

From a layperson’s perspective, a person collapses suddenly, becomes unconscious with minimal or no breathing, and has no pulse. Prior symptoms such as chest pain, dizziness, palpitations, shortness of breath, vomiting, etc. may or may not be present.

Q. What happens if nothing is done immediately?

A. If no immediate emergency bystander help is available, the person will die in a few minutes. Our body needs oxygen all the time. In cardiac arrest, there is no blood supply and oxygen to any of the organs. The brain is most susceptible to lack of oxygen and starts “dying” in a few minutes much ahead of other organs. In most cases, the brain is “irreversibly damaged” in about 10 minutes or less without oxygen. The proportion of brain damage depends on the delay in commencing the CPR to restart the Heart and reestablish blood supply to the brain.

Q. What is Bystander CPR? What is the science behind it?

In most Adults, there will be some amount of oxygen left in the body for about 4-5 minutes after cardiac arrest for survival with or without brain damage. With regard to “Bystander Hands-only or Compressions-only CPR”, there is enough evidence-based information to support the fact that only chest compressions (100-120 per minute in the center of chest) performed by bystander in the initial few minutes of cardiac arrest will be as effective as “Conventional CPR” performed with both compressions and breaths (30 compressions and two breaths sequence). Beyond 4-5 minutes or so, “breathing for the victim” is vital in addition to chest compressions. In infants, children, and persons with heart and lung conditions, drug overdose, and drowning, “Conventional” or “Compressions plus Breaths” CPR is needed for survival. Without immediate CPR, 90% of the victims die. Bystander CPR increases the chances of the victim’s survival two to three times. Using an electrical device called “Automated External Defibrillator” (AED) soon with CPR will increase survival rates of the victims significantly.

Q. How to get trained in CPR?

A. The lifesaving Bystander CPR technique and using an AED are easy to learn. Taking a “CPR Training” class from any authorized organization is necessary. There are also videos available to teach the basics of Hands-only CPR. It is also essential to follow Governmental “Good Samaritan Laws” for liability protection while providing any emergency help.

Q. Are there any specific precautions for Bystander CPR during COVID-19 era?

A. Certainly! CPR is an aerosol (droplet)-generating procedure. Safety precautions must be taken for personal protection. Cover your and victim’s mouth and nose with any readily available face cover, cloth/mask before starting CPR. Thorough handwashing with soap and water should be done after providing CPR help. From the currently available information, the chances of getting infection while performing CPR are very minimal or insignificant.

Q. What are your thoughts on the progress and advances in the arena of Resuscitation in India in recent years?

Having been involved with Indian Resuscitation Medicine teaching, training, and research for some time, I am happy that India is making significant advances on several fronts of Resuscitation Medicine.

First, the academic curriculum in Indian Medical Colleges includes “Mandated Resuscitation” training for Medical Students, Residents, and Nurses. The training faculty has been providing Resuscitation Training in Governmental and Private Medical colleges. Some of the Institutions are also utilizing advanced simulation technology.

The Indian Government (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) recently introduced comprehensive “Provider Course for Training Doctors in Trauma and Non-trauma” viz. mandatory “National Emergency Life Support” Courses for graduating Medical Students, Residents (Physicians) and Nurses. This is a commendable initiative for Indian Medical Educational System as the course curriculum, tailored to India, was developed by the experienced Indian Experts.

Community, Paramedic, High School and Police CPR trainings have peaked in recent years, thanks to the efforts of Indian Institutions such as EMRI (Emergency Management and Research Institute), Indian Resuscitation Council (IRC) and many other Indian Organizations. IRC became an official member of the ILCOR (International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation) recently. Medical Institutional affiliations such as the AIIMS -American Heart Association (“Nation of Lifesavers in India” Project) are making rapid progress. Odisha is the first Indian State to officially launch a statewide CPR training project (community, police and high school/college students) which was inaugurated by the Hon’ble Chief Minister Mr. Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar on February 2,2023.

Indian Medical Institutions and Hospitals are focusing more and more on “Prevention of Cardiac Disease” in addition to improving cardiac care quality services. “Emergency Cardiac Care-Enhancing Outcomes” projects exemplified by “HeartRescue India (HRI) ” (collaboration of the University of Illinois Health, Chicago, USA, M.S. Ramaiah Medical College and Hospital, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India, and Medtronic Inc.) are making good progress.

Q. Why Indians or Indian diaspora are more prone to Heart Disease?

A great question! Several evidence-based studies, past and recent, from India, USA and other countries point to various contributing factors such as high BP, tobacco abuse in any form, diet high in carbohydrates, fats, and salt, obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, lack of adequate exercise, stress and lifestyle, and genetic predisposition. They all contribute to the acceleration of plaques or “blocks” in the Heart’s blood vessels. Research also suggests that Indians have smaller sized heart blood vessels with narrow lumina that are also prone to high calcium deposits. In addition, genetic variations or abnormalities also play a significant role in about 6% of the Indians and their diaspora. One recent Indo-US collaborative study (Warangal Area Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Registry, WACAR) gave some insight into the epidemiology of Cardiac Arrests in India.

Q. As an advocate of “Healthy Hearts”, what preventive strategies do you recommend?

A. Awareness, early detection, and timely interventions are the keys to enhancing cardiac health and quality of life. The basics are stopping tobacco use, regular physical activity, healthy diet, maintaining an average weight, controlling blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose, adequate sleep, and stress control through meditation/yoga. They should be tailored to individual needs as advised by their Physicians.

Meditation has several benefits. It’s scientifically proven that Meditation/Yoga pacifies parts of the brain related to stress. Recent research showed that eight weeks of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training programs increase the thickness of Hippocampus (gray matter concentration), the part of the brain responsible for memory and regulating emotions.

Q. What are your concluding comments?

Raising community awareness of Heart Disease, implementing Preventive “Healthy Heart” programs with health screenings and promoting Community CPR programs by the Government and Non-Governmental Organizations are the initial steps to start combating Cardiovascular Disease, improve outcomes in “Heart Emergencies” and enhance overall “Heart Heath”!

Thank You!

(Disclaimer: The information provided in the article is meant for educational purpose only to raise awareness of Heart Disease and Sudden Cardiac Arrests. It does not endorse any specific organization and is not a professional advice. The readers need to seek professional medical advice before following any suggestion).

AAPI Condemns Seattle Police Officer’s Offensive Remarks Regarding Tragic Death Of Indian Student

 “AAPI wants to express our deep concerns and anguish about the Seattle Police Officer’s offensive remarks regarding the tragic death of Jaahnavi Kandula, a 23-year-old graduate student studying at Northeastern University’s Seattle campus,” Dr. Anjana Samadder, President of American Association of Physicians of India Origin (AAPI) said here today.

In a statement issued here, Dr. Samadder condemned the tragic incident stating, “Jaahnavi’s death was a horrible tragedy. Per reports, she was killed by a police car traveling at 74 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone. Adding fuel to the fire, the recording of a Seattle Police officer making light of her death and questioning the value of her life is very disturbing and is totally unacceptable.

“We at AAPI, the largest ethnic medical organization in the nation, serving 30% of US population, urge the federal, state, and local Governments to make all the efforts possible to prevent such behavior against innocent people around the nation who continue to suffer due to violence, harassment, and discrimination,” Dr. Samadder said.

Quoting the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Dr. Lokesh Edara, Chair of AAPI BOT, said, “AAPI recognizes that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set out therein, without distinction of any kind, in particular as to race, color or national origin. All human beings are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the law against any discrimination and against any incitement to discrimination.”

Picture : TheUNN

Dr. Satheesh Kathula, President-Elect  of AAPI stressed the need for education. He said, “Dr. Satheesh Kathula, President-Elect  of AAPI stressed the importance of awareness and legislation. He said, “We commit to educating ourselves and others about racism that manifests in our own community in various forms. We will work to address racism and health disparities through policy and by working with affected communities, legislators and the healthcare providers who serve them. I reached out to some of the Indian American legislators on this issue and asked them to talk to other legislators. Our fate is linked to the fate of our fellow citizens, and our work must include lifting up and supporting all the communities so we all can thrive.”.

“Like many members of AAPI, Jaahnavi came to the United States to earn a graduate degree. We know well the experience of arriving onto an American college campus, full of possibility and hope for the future,” Dr. Amitr Chakrabarty, Vice President of AAPI. “This past January, Jaahnavi’s future was taken away from her by the reckless actions of a member of the SPD. Earlier this month, the pain of Jaahnavi’s death was made horribly worse after footage was released of SPD Officer Auderer saying Jaahnavi’s life “had limited value. We believe that every life has value. We believe that Jaahnavi’s life had tremendous value, and join South Asians everywhere in calling for justice and accountability.”

“We stand in solidarity with those across the nation condemning the incident and raising funds to support the family of  and harassment against some minority groups,” Dr. Sumula raval, Secretary of AAPI said. “As immigrants to the U.S., our families may not always understand this history, but we join in solidarity with the minority communities and call for justice and peace.”

“While recognizing the pain and sufferings of the family and friends of Jaahnavi Kandula impacted by the cruel and unfortunate death of their dear one, AAPI is urging the Seattle Police Department and the state Government to pursue its investigation and bring to justice, who are responsible for this tragedy and the inhumane statement by the Police Officer,” said Dr. Sreeni Gangasani, Treasurer of AAPI.

The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) is an umbrella organization which has over 110 local chapters, specialty societies and alumni organizations, with over 41 years of history of dedicated services to their motherland and the adopted land. For more information on AAPI, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

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.

SONS OF THE SOIL

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.

WEAK LINKS

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.

KING OF THE ASHES

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)

AAPI’s 17th Annual Global Healthcare Summit 2023 In New Delhi & Manipal

Chicago, IL, September 11, 2023: “The registration for AAPI’s 17th annual Global Healthcare Summit 2024 at the prestigious Taj Palace Hotel from January 1-3rd and at the Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, Mahe in Karnataka from January 4th to 6th, 2023
is filling up fast,” Dr. Anjana Samadder, President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) announced here today.

While elaborating on the themes and areas that are going to be covered during the Summit, Dr. Sampat Shivangi, Chair of GHS 2024 said, “Future of Healthcare and Artificial Intelligence” will be the theme for the GHS 2024, which is organized by AAPI in collaboration with Kasturba Medical College in Manipal, the Indian Medical Association, and the Government of the State of Karnataka.”

Several prominent physicians and academicians have been invited and have been accepted to be the keynote speakers and chairs of various academic sessions planned and organized during the summit. Latest Advances, CME, ELS, Discussions on Research Methodology, and Scientific Writing by Academic Experts will be part of the summit.
Dr. Lokesh Edara, Chair of AAPI BOT said, “AAPI’s GHS is yet another way of continuing with our constant commitment towards making quality healthcare affordable and accessible to all the people of India. In addition, GHS 2024 will also focus on promoting Healthcare Technology including Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare.”
The focus this year will be on Mental Health, Infant and Maternal Mortality as well as Medical Jeopardy and Research Poster presentations by medical students. In addition, there will be panel discussions by International Medical Education experts and National Medical Council Board officials and mentoring of Young Professionals.
Advocacy to dismantle the stigma of mental illness and Suicide Prevention will be the highlight of the program. Chronic Disease Reversal and Prevention, Rural Health Initiatives will continue to be promoted and other Global Health Issues including Climate Change and its impact on health will be discussed.

The CEO forum will focus on Equity, Ethics, and Physician Burnout issues. The Women’s Forum will deliberate on Gender Bias and Leadership. Dr. Manoj Jain, Chair of CETI – Collaboration to Eliminate TB in India supported by CDC and USAID will discuss their ongoing long-term TB Elimination Projects in India. Comprehensive details and outcomes of TB Elimination Projects in India will be presented to the GHS delegates.

Other activities will include CPR Training for Police personnel; a Walkathon on combating mental health stigma and prevention of Childhood Obesity and several other initiatives will be announced, including treatment modalities for non-communicable medical diseases.

Dr. Anupam Seibel, GHS Chair – New Delhi says, “With hundreds of physicians from the United States, the Summit is expected to be attended by nearly 400 delegates from around the world. AAPI Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) will have many new initiatives and also will be carrying the torch of ongoing projects undertaken by AAPI’s past leaders.”

Lt. Gen. Dr. M.D. Venkatesh, Co-Chair of GHS – India says, “Many of the physicians who will attend this convention have excelled in different specialties and subspecialties and occupy high positions as faculty members of medical schools, heads of departments, and executives of hospitals and pharma companies.

“AAPI GHS offers an opportunity to meet directly with these physicians who are leaders in their fields and play an integral part in the decision-making process regarding new products and services,” Dr. Satheesh Kathula, President-Elect of AAPI said.

According to GHS Convenor – USA, Dr. Subramanya Bhatt, “The preliminary program is in place, the major attractions include cutting-edge CMEs with renowned speakers, CEO Forum, Innovation Forum, an Entrepreneur Forum, Women’s Forum, and Product Theaters to highlight the newest advances in patient care and medical technology.”
“Alumni meetings for networking, an AAPI-India Strategic Engagement Forum to showcase the AAPI initiatives in India, TB Eradication in India, and recognition of AAPI Award winners will make this Summit unique,” added Dr. Rohit Singh, GHS Convenor – India.

According to CME Chair – USA Dr. Banbwal Suresh Balinga and CME Chair -India, Dr. Dr. Padmaraj Hegde, while the focus of GHS 2024 will be on Mental health, Infant and Maternal Mortality, Medical Jeopardy, and Research Poster presentations by medical students with panel discussions by International Medical Education experts and National Medical Council Board officials will help mentoring of young professionals.
GHS Scientific Chair Dr. Rajendran Alappan said, “In our efforts to realize the core mission of AAPI, which is to share the best from leading experts from around the world, to collaborate on clinical challenges, the GHS in Delhi and Manipal will have clinical tracks that are of vital to healthcare in India.”
Dr. Amit Chakrabarty, Vice President of AAPI, says, “It is these learning opportunities and collaborative relationships that have now enabled AAPI and participating organizations to plan and prepare for an outstanding event that is expected to have over 300 prominent and experienced physicians and surgeons of Indian origin from around the world, who are very passionate about serving their homeland, Mother India.”

Dr. Sumul Raval, Secretary of AAPI says, “GHS 2024 is aimed at exploring possibilities for greater collaboration and cooperation between the physicians and health care providers in India with those of Indian origin and major health-care providers abroad.”

Dr. Sreeni Gangasani, Treasurer of AAPI, “Harnessing the power of Indian Doctors worldwide, the AAPI Global Healthcare Summit platform has evolved with the support of prominent global and Indian medical associations . AAPI’s mission is to make a positive and meaningful impact on the healthcare delivery system both in the US and in India.”
Healthcare in India is one of the largest sectors, in terms of revenue and employment. India is making significant improvements in its healthcare infrastructure and is building modern medical facilities throughout India. Doctors of Indian origin have made tremendous progress in the 21st century and India is now being touted as a medical tourism hub. With hundreds of physicians joining from the United States, the summit is expected to be attended by three hundred delegates from around the world. AAPI Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) will have many new initiatives and will be carrying the torch of ongoing projects undertaken by AAPI’s past leaders.

Dr. Sampath Shivangi said, “We are collaborating with senior leaders from leading healthcare organizations including pharmaceuticals, device and medical equipment manufacturers and major medical teaching institutions, hospitals and the Ministries of Health, External/Overseas Affairs and regulatory bodies to attend and coordinate with AAPI with an ultimate goal to providing accessible and affordable high-quality healthcare to all people of India.”

The Global Healthcare Summit has come a long way from the first Indo-US Healthcare Summit launched by AAPI USA in 2007. Since then, AAPI has organized 16 Indo – US/Global Healthcare Summits and developed strategic alliances with various organizations.
Dr. Samadder said, AAPI is hopeful that several international healthcare industry partners are looking for opportunities to participate at this event for greater collaboration on Research & Development and philanthropic engagements.
Dr. Samadder expressed gratitude to all the Chairs and members of various Committees who are working hard to put together a great Summit and to enable members to return home with memories that will last a lifetime.
“Physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country and internationally will meet and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and to encourage legislative priorities in the coming year. We look forward to seeing you in New Delhi and Manipal!” said Dr. Samadder. For more details, please visit: www.aapiusa.org/ To register for the Global Healthcare Summit 2023, please visit: https://summit.aapiusa.org

A Highly Powerful Line-Up of Speakers To Address The 2,000+ Strong Delegates During ITServe’s Synergy 2023 In Atlantic City

(September 12th, 2023 – Atlantic City, NJ) “An esteemed panel of keynote speakers, industry experts, thought leaders, and lawmakers will share their insights and best practices on a diverse range of topics relevant to Itserve members, during ITServe’s flagship Synergy 2023 in Atlantic City this Fall.” Venu Sangani, Director of Synergy 2023 announced here today.

Over 2,000+ strong delegates from across the United States will gather to be part of the 9th Annual Synergy Conference, planned to be held at the popular Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City,  New Jersey from October 26-27, 2023, Sangani added.

Vinay K. Mahajan, National President of ITServe Alliance says, “ITServe Alliance’s Synergy 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.”

Describing the background to the launching of the first-ever Synergy Conference in 2015, Vinod Babu Uppu, Governing Board Chair of ITServe said, “Synergy is ITServe Alliance’s flagship Annual Conference, which began in 2015 with the objective of providing business owners, entrepreneurs, and executives with strategies and solutions that address the unique needs of the IT Solution & Services Industry.”

Synergy continues to add prominent speakers, and valuable sponsorships, and help grow a community network of industry professionals across the country,” said Amar Varada, Chair of Synergy 2023. “Participants at Synergy 2023 will have a platform for IT company heads 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.

Picture : TheUNN

Anil Atyam, Chair of Speakers for Synergy 2023, and Radha Alla, Synergy Advisor 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. The selection process has been meticulous, ensuring that each session offers a blend of expertise, vision, and actionable advice for our members. The goal is to create a transformative experience for our attendees.”

Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton will be a distinguished guest and will address the participants during the Banquet Night during the Synergy 2023.  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 Senator.

Steve Forbes, an American publishing executive, who had sought the Republican Party’s presidential nomination twice and a member of the board of trustees of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and Chairman of the Forbes Media will the Inaugural Keynote Speaker during Synergy 2023.

Kevin O’Leary, a Canadian entrepreneur, financier, and television personality who was perhaps best known as a panelist on the reality series Dragons’ Den and Shark Tank will be another phenomenal speaker, who will share his insights with the ITServe dellegates at the Conference.

Phaneesh Murthy, who has established himself as an industry leader over his 25 year career in business, having successfully structured and managed large outsourcing deals for Fortune 500 companies, will share his expertise on consulting in the areas of IT spending, business strategies, and restructuring.

Another remarkable speaker at the Synergy 2023 will Zack Kass, who is the current Head of GTM and had served as the VP of Sales and Customer Success at Terminus, Mixpanel, and Figure Eight. Kass at OpenAI has extensive work experience spanning over a decade in leadership positions in various companies,

Sheila Bair, who has had a long and distinguished career in government, academia, and finance will share with the delegates her insights on effectively working with Government agencies. Twice named by Forbes Magazine as the second most powerful woman in the world, she is perhaps best known as Chair of (FDIC) for steering the agency through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Prominent among those who were at the previous Synergy conferences include: former Presidents of the United States, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and Nikki Haley, a Republican Presidential candidate.

According to Sangani, “Designed to cater to the specific needs of ITServe members, primarily tech entrepreneurs, Synergy 2023 will host a plethora of crucial panel discussions. Topics will span from Immigration to CIO/CTO issues, Mergers and Acquisitions, Financial Planning, and Political Action Committees, among others. Barbara Bruno will lead an educational session on “Mastering Effective Recruiting in Staffing,” and other sessions will focus on Contracts, Legal Compliance, and Federal Contracting.”

Under the banner “Come, Learn, and Grow,” a dedicated team spearheaded by Venu Sangani is fervently working to elevate Synergy 2023’s brand and position it as the leading IT Staffing Conference in America. Beyond being an arena for networking and knowledge sharing, Synergy 2023 aims to be a veritable marketplace for ideas and innovations. The event is curated to provide actionable insights and strategies that companies can directly implement, serving as a catalyst for taking your business to the next level.

Summarizing the mission of ITServe Alliance and Synergy 2023, Jagadeesh Mosali, President-Elect of ITServe said, “We believe in developing strategic relationships with our partner organizations to work for a better technology environment by building greater understanding. Come and join us on our journey. Let us be your voice when it comes to Information Technology.”

According to Anju Vallbhaneni, Secretary of ITServe, “Synergy offers a unique opportunity for IT companies and individuals in the industry to hear from renowned guest speakers and thought leaders from across the country. participants will have the opportunity to break out into start-up cubes with business leaders and investors to pitch their offerings and ideas for the chance to turn dreams into a reality.”

“Since 2015, Synergy has grown from a one-day conference and banquet event to two full days of speakers, panels, and breakout sessions. What began in Dallas, TX, has now travelled to Atlantic City and Chicago, continuing to grow,” said Mahesh Sake, Treasurer of ITServe.

“In just two days, our attendees will grow their peer network, partake in important industry discussions, and gain valuable knowledge to take their business to the next level. Come and experience for yourself the impact we are making when we come together and explore more about Synergy. We can’t wait to see you in Atlantic City,” said Ashok Dandamudi, Media Director of ITServe Alliance.

Vamsi Tamanna, Synergy PR & Media Chair said, “ITServe has built a strong member-focused community within the IT industry, where professionals and experts alike can collaborate, present new business ventures, and work together to find new ways to overcome industry obstacles.”

Sangani said, “We have been working hard to streamline the Synergy conference process, increase the brand value of our Synergy, and promote diversity to establish it as a recognized America’s biggest IT Staffing conference by mainstream media. Come and be part of our journey to be the powerful voice that represents all IT businesses across the United States.”

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: www.itserve.org

180 Key Democrat and Republican Lawmakers Participate In ITServe Capitol Hill Day

“The first ever in-person Capitol Hill Day organized by ITServe Alliance in Washington, DC on July 19th, 2023, was highly successful,” said Siva Moopanar, Director of ITServe Alliance Policy Advocacy Committee (PAC). “We had overwhelming support from the nearly 180 key US Representatives and Senators, including influential committee chairs and members from both the Democrat and Republican Parties for the causes put forth by ITServe.”

The day-long event on Capitol Hill organized by the ITServe Alliance Policy Advocacy Committee (PAC) was attended by over 240 ITServe members from across the nation. A Congressional Reception was held on July 18th and the Capitol Hill Day event on July 19th featured Capitol Hill meetings and interactive sessions with key Members of Congress.

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

“The U.S. needs to maintain its leadership in technology and innovation,” Vinay Mahajan, ITServe Alliance President said. “The startup Eco System needs to be supercharged. One critical component of both is high-skilled workers. The U.S. has a large skills gap – availability of workers vs the openings for talent in IT. We need the brightest minds from all over the world to keep our wide lead in technology and innovation.”

ITServe Alliance expressed its overwhelming support and urged the lawmakers, among other initiatives, to support H.R. 4647, the “High-Skilled Immigration Reform for Employment (HIRE) Act,” introduced by US Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois on July 14th, 2023. The Bill would strengthen U.S. competitiveness by helping to close the skills gap – the space between the skills required for jobs that employers need to fill, and the skills possessed by current prospective employees. As introduced, the bill would raise the current H-1B limit from 65,000 to 130,000, remove the H-1B cap for those with a Master’s Degree or PhD and create a STEM grant program.

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

“H-1B visa holders play a crucial role in bolstering the U.S. economy, fostering innovation, and enriching the fabric of American society through their skills, contributions, and diverse backgrounds,” said Sarit Kommineni, Co-Chair – PAC. “They bring diverse perspectives and knowledge to American workplaces, facilitating knowledge transfer and skills development by engaging in research and development activities, particularly in STEM fields, which contributes to scientific advancements and technological progress.”

“ITServe Alliance is consistently working to protect its members’ needs. To that end, ITServe Alliance, through its PAC teams advocates on Capitol Hill and with the US Administration.  The Capitol Hill Day served as a perfect platform to communicate our collective voice with key policymakers on important issues to our members,” added Hima Kolanagireddy, Co-Chair PAC.

According to Jagadeesh Mosali, President-Elect of ITServe, “A major objective of the Capitol Hill Day was to showcase to the lawmakers some of the significant contributions of the ITServe members to the country’s economy through Technology & Innovation, local employment, and STEM education. The event also addressed key concerns faced by small businesses, including the need for high-skilled immigration reforms.”

Vinod Babu Uppu, ITServe Governing Board Chair said, “I want to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to the hundreds of ITServe members who were part of this important event. Advocating for ITServe and making our voices heard in the corridors of power. Through our collective voice and through their continued active participation and collaboration, we will be able to accomplish our goals through grassroots and advocacy.”

Founded in 2010, ITServe’s vision has been to empower local communities by creating, retaining, and fostering employment opportunities within the United States. ITServe has an active membership of 2,100 + members, 20 Chapters established across 23 states, who are small & medium-sized companies that fulfill the growing demand for highly skilled professionals in America. Together, the ITServe members have 175,000+ IT professionals employed throughout the U.S and generate over $12 billion in revenue annually.

ITServe and its member community are committed to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and actively contributing to local communities nationwide, particularly in the realm of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education.  For information on ITServe and its many noble initiatives, please visit: www.itserve.org

Bill to Double H-1B Visas to Boost US Economic Competitiveness Introduced

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08) introduced H.R. 4647, the High-Skilled Immigration Reform for Employment (HIRE) Act, which would strengthen U.S. competitiveness by helping to close the skills gap – the space between the skills required for jobs that employers need to fill, and the skills possessed by current prospective employees.

The Bill, supported by ITServe Alliance, the largest association of IT Services organizations functioning across the United States, aims to close the skills gap and foster economic growth by investing in domestic talent and drawing the best minds from around the world to drive technological innovation.

The HIRE Act would help to close the skills gap by providing additional funding to strengthen U.S. elementary and secondary school science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education programs while also doubling the number of H-1B visas available annually from 65,000 to 130,000 to allow American employers, including in critical technology sectors, to draw the best talent from around the world.

“Creating jobs and building the economy of the future requires us to lead the way in technology by developing our domestic workforce while drawing the best talent from around the world,” said Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi. “That is why I am proud to introduce the HIRE Act to increase investments in elementary and secondary school STEM education while doubling the number of available H-1B visas from 65,000 to 130,000. By investing in our homegrown talent while attracting the best minds from around the world, we can create better paying jobs and harness the technology of tomorrow.”

“The U.S. needs to maintain its leadership in technology and innovation,” Vinay Mahajan, ITServe Alliance President, said. “The startup Eco System needs to be supercharged. One critical component of both is high-skilled workers. The U.S. has a large skills gap – availability of workers vs the openings for talent in IT. The HIRE Act focuses on reducing this gap through high-skilled immigration and funding for growing local STEM talent. We need the brightest minds from all over world to keep our wide lead in technology and innovation.”

The US runs the H-1B visa program to make up for the shortage of specialty workers, although critics have argued that the shortage is highly exaggerated and that the program is being used by American companies to use less expensive foreign workers brought here by IT services companies.

An estimated 75% of the H-1B visa granted in a year add up to 85,000 — 65,000 workers hired abroad and 20,000 recruited from foreign students enrolled in US colleges and universities — are known to go workers from India, hired by some of the largest US tech giants such as Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Facebook as well as IT services behemoths like Infosys, TCS and Wipro.

In the past similar Bills were introduced but did not move forward due to lack of support in Congress.

The Innovation Employment Act, introduced by Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, was introduced in the Congress with an effort to increase the cap in H-1B visas from 65,000 a year to 130,000 a year. In addition, there would be no cap on H-1B applications for foreign graduate students attending U.S. colleges and studying science, technology and related fields. Currently, there’s a 20,000-a-year cap on visas for graduate students in all fields. The legislation would increase the H-1B cap to 180,000 in 2010 to 2015 if the 130,000 cap is reached the year before. However, this Bill did not pass the Congress.

Microsoft’s former Chairman Bill Gates had called for an increase in the H-1B visa cap while testifying before the House of Representatives Science and Technology Committee. In recent years, the H-1B cap has been filled days — or even the same day — after the government opened the application period.

“We provide the world’s best universities … and the students are not allowed to stay and work in the country,” Gates said. “The fact is, [other countries’] smartest people want to come here and that’s a huge advantage to us, and in a sense, we’re turning them away.”

The legislation “would boost America’s competitiveness by giving U.S. employers the flexibility they need to hire the best talent available to fill a severe shortage of qualified U.S. high-skilled workers,” Jack Krumholtz, management director of federal government affairs for Microsoft, had said in a statement. The bill would also increase U.S. jobs; Microsoft hires an additional four people to support each H-1B worker, Krumholtz said.

The U.S. government will begin accepting visa applications for next year in April, and Microsoft predicted the cap would be filled the same day, as it was in the past. “The current system effectively prevents American companies from hiring this year’s foreign-born university graduates,” Krumholtz added.

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