Dr. Manju Sheth: An Inspiring Role Model For Women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Human Trafficking Training to Help Hotel Owners and Operators Meet New State Mandate

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Nov. 17 – In an effort to crack down on human trafficking across Florida, a new law is going into effect mandating that all lodging establishments provide annual human trafficking awareness training for housekeeping and front desk employees. The state will require hotel owners and operators to provide training for new employees within 60 days after they begin employment in a housekeeping or reception area role, or by January 1, 2021, whichever occurs later. Training must be re-administered annually. Businesses that do not comply with this new mandate face a fine of up to $2,000 a day. Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST), an industry leader in anti-trafficking education and prevention partnered with AAHOA, the nation’s largest hotel owners association, to offer a 30-minute, online, video-based training for hotel employees. Inhospitable to Human Trafficking Training sponsored by AAHOA helps employees understand and identify the signs of potential trafficking situations in hotels and how they can safely report it. The Florida Division of Hotels & Restaurants recently certified that Inhospitable to Human Trafficking Training sponsored by AAHOA meets the requirements set forth in section 509.096 of the Florida State Statute as an approved human trafficking awareness training program that lodging establishments can use to satisfy the new state mandate. The training is available in English or Spanish, and it is proven to increase the reporting of human trafficking incidents. In 2019 researchers from Arizona State University evaluated Inhospitable to Human Trafficking Training sponsored by AAHOA and found that 97 percent of hotel employees who took the training said it will help prevent sex trafficking incidents. 96 percent of employees reported taking at least one recommended step to prevent trafficking at their hotel. “This training is a wonderful resource for hotel owners and operators to fulfill Florida’s new training requirement,” explains Mar Brettmann, PhD, Founder and CEO of BEST. “Since our training is provided online, it’s easy to administer to employees annually, and it’s convenient for employees to be able to provide their managers with the required documentation showing they are up-to-date with their training.” Part of Florida’s new regulations require each housekeeping or front desk employee to submit a signed and dated acknowledgment of having received training, which the hotel owner or operator must be able to provide to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation upon request. Inhospitable to Human Trafficking Training sponsored by AAHOA will make this step easy for hotel managers and employees because after completing the training, employees can print a signed and dated certificate showing they have completed the course. Eight states have passed laws requiring human trafficking awareness training for lodging establishments. Florida joins California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey, Iowa, North Dakota and Illinois in mandating employee training. “America’s hoteliers can be the first line of defense against human trafficking,” said AAHOA President & CEO Cecil P. Staton. “With proper training, such as BEST’s Inhospitable to Human Trafficking sponsored by AAHOA, hotel owners and their employees can learn to identify the signs of trafficking and how to respond to potential trafficking situations. AAHOA is proud to partner with BEST to help bring this valuable training to the nation’s hotel owners.” Inhospitable to Human Trafficking Training sponsored by AAHOA is available at no cost to AAHOA’s 20,000 members and their employees through AAHOA’s website (www.AAHOA.com/HTAT) as part of the Association’s Human Trafficking Awareness Trainings. About AAHOA:
AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the world. The 20,000 AAHOA members own almost one in every two hotels in the United States. With billions of dollars in property assets and hundreds of thousands of employees, AAHOA members are core economic contributors in virtually every community. AAHOA is a proud defender of free enterprise and the foremost current-day example of realizing the American dream. About Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST):
Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST) is a Seattle-based nonprofit organization with the mission to align and equip leaders to use the power of business to prevent human trafficking. BEST is the first organization in the country dedicated entirely to working with businesses to disrupt human trafficking. BEST has provided consultation and training to thousands of businesses on how to prevent human trafficking. For more information about ordering Inhospitable to Human Trafficking training from BEST, visit bestalliance.org or email [email protected].

Sudhir Vaishnav Appointed Executive Director of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, USA

The Board of Directors of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (BVB) unanimously appointed Sudhir Vaishnav as the new executive director to oversee and manage the Bhavan’s activities in the United States. The organization is dedicated to promoting and preserving the arts, culture and heritage of India. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan was founded 81 years ago by K.M. Munshi, with the support of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel.

Vaishnav is succeeding Deepak Dave who served as the executive director from 2008 through 2020, according to a press release from BVB. “I am really humbled and honored to serve such a prestigious institution as its Executive Director and will try to live up to the Board’s expectations in trusting me to promote Indian culture. My whole family has been associated with BVB since its inception in 1981,” Vaishnav is quoted saying in the press release.

The BVB’s current U.S. Board of Directors consists of prominent members of the South Asian community based in New York. “We are delighted that Mr. Vaishnav has accepted the challenge to take the Bhavan to even greater heights,” stated Dr. Navin Mehta, BVB USA chair. Other community leaders who are part of the US Board are Dr. Bhupendra Patel, Harish Mistry, Dr. Parveen Chopra, Yakub Matthew, Ravi Iyer, Riddhi Gandhi and Megha Bhouraskar. Swati Vaishnav has resigned from the Board of Directors, but she will continue to serve the Bhavan as the Director of Cultural Affairs. Minesh Patel was appointed as the Operations Manager for Office Administration.

“His community involvement for the past 40+ years with various organizations will help the Bhavan in reaching its lofty ideals;’ said Chairman Emeritus Padma Shri Dr. H R Shah. Vice Chairman Kenny Desai said, “Sudhir Bhai’s expertise in bringing the best of South Asian entertainment and event planning will enhance the Bhavan’s fund raising activities:’ The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, USA is planning several events starting next year, including celebrating its 40th anniversary. Any cultural organization is supported by membership and we are reaching out to the community and the Bhavan’s Alumni for membership and a fundraising drive. The Bhavan is a nonprofit cultural and educational organization incorporated under section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan is a well-known institution, dedicated to promoting and preserving the arts, culture and heritage of India. Bhavan was founded 81 years ago by Dr. KM Munshi Ji, with the support of Mahatma Gandhi Ji and Shri Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. It has established 119 centers in India and 7 centers abroad, alongside 367 constituent institutions. Its honorary members list includes HH The Dalai Lama, HRH The Prince of Wales Prince Charles, JRD Tata, Mother Teresa, past presidents of India, renowned business leaders, and other prominent dignitaries.

The US Chapter, founded in 1981 with Padma Shri Dr.P. Jayraman as its first Executive Director, is based in Manhattan, New York, and has been instrumental in pioneering & showcasing the best of India’s culture and arts in the US. The New York center offers various classes in Indian dances & languages and hosts seminars & entertainment events at prestigious venues.

Gunjan Rastogi Is Elected President of NIAASC

Gunjan Rastogi, a well known community leader in the New York region has taken over as the new President of The National Indo-American Association (NIAASC), Rajeshwar Prasad, the founder and outgoing President of NIAASC announced here at the end of the  NIAASC’s 31st annual virtual conference and Board of Directors meeting held on November 8. 2020.

Dozens of participants from across the United States attended this interactive conference, which was inaugurated with an audio message from Honorable Randhir Singh, Consul General of India in New York.

The conference discussed the current global hot issue, ‘The Impact of COVID-19 on Seniors.’ Speakers at the conference included: Dr. Mani Srinivasan, Dr. Jyothi Jasti and Dr. Rao. Executive Director of National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA), Dr. Hari Har Singh spoke about the NFIA and the larger role it plays in organizing Indian  American community. 

Dr. Bhavani Srinivasan, NIAASC Vice President was the host and Gunjan Rastogi was the co-host of the day long conference. Dr. Vasundhara Kalasapudi, Founder and President of India Home in New York, facilitated  the smooth running of the conference through technical support.

In his opening remarks at the conference, Rajeshwar Prasad, NIAASC President, welcomed the participants and focused on the importance of precautions everyone MUST take during this deadly and dangerous virus, COBVID-19, which has taken millions of lives all over the World.

Dr. Mani Srinivasan through a power point presentation focused on the simple preventive measures we all should follow strictly: no close assembly and be at least six to eight feet of social distance; wash your hands frequently; never go out without a mask covering your nose and mouth fully. 

Drs. Jasti and Dr. Rao complemented and provided examples how dangerous this virus can be if not handled carefully. It not only requires professional support and guidance but equally important is the precautions people should take for being safe.

While elaborating the elections process, Rajeshwar Prasad, said, one-third of the Board members retire every year; however they are eligible to be re- elected if so recommended by the Nominating Committee and approved by the General Body at its annual meeting. Of the five retiring members, three would continue as Board members for a period of three years ending December 31, 2023. They are: Dr. Asha Samant, Professor Jyotsna Kalavar, and  Harbachan Singh. Two members of NIAASC were also recommended by the Nominating Committee to serve on the Board of Directors and approved by the general body. They are; Baldev Seekri, from Rhode Island and Santosh Kumar from Chicago area. Both Seekri and Kumar, life members of NIAASC were speakers at the annual meeting of NIAASC in 2019 held at Shantiniketan, Tavares, Florida. Santosh Kumar would be for one year ending December 31, 2021, and Baldev Seekri would be for two years, ending December 31, 2022. 

In addition to Gunjan Rastogi, who has become the President of NIAASC, Bhavani Srinivasan, currently serving as the Vice President was reelected for the second full term. Harbachan Singh, currently a Board member, was elected as the Secretary, and E M Stephen, associated with NIAASC since its inception, was elected as the Treasurer.

The General Body also approved the two NAASC members for the Board of Directors: Mrs. Santosh Kumar, Counselor, attorney, professor and community leader from Greater  Chicago for one-year-term ending December 31, 2021, and Mr. Baldev Seekri, who has been the General Manager, Texas Instrument, and now lives in Rhode Island for a 2-year term ending December 31, 2022.

IALI past president and current NIAASC president Rastogi elaborated on her vision as the new president to lead the organization, especially during Covid pandemic. She reminded of the many activities by IALI for seniors in Long Island coordinating efforts by both the organizations.  Stephen, Founder of Kerala Center described also in details services rendered by the Center for seniors and their families.

Since 1998 NIAASC has arranged 31 conferences on seniors in various places in USA. In addition to organizing several programs pertaining to the needs of the seniors, NIAASC uses the Area Agency on Aging as front line support for seniors. Any caller to NIAASC is referred to local AAA in the callers’ zip code.

(Submitted by Rajeshwar Prasad)

A Glass Of Red Wine Can Replace 1 Hour Exercising

Are you a red wine drinker? What if I tell you sipping in a glass of wine can equate to an hour of exercise? Yup, it’s tried and tested. A new scientific study has just confirmed this wonderful news. So next time you hold a glass of Merlot, you can brag about one hour of hard workout. Rejoice, drinkers! “I think resveratrol could help patient populations who want to exercise but are physically incapable. Resveratrol could mimic exercise for the more improve the benefits of the modest amount of exercise that they can do.” Can a glass of red wine offer the same results as an hour of working out? Surely this cannot be true!Modern living is incredibly busy, so after a long day at work the last thing most people want to do is put on their workout clothes and spend an hour running, cycling or lifting weights. What most people are more likely to do is kick back with their feet up, stick a good film on and enjoy a glass of red wine. Whilst it might sound too good to be true, a recent study by researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada has shown that a compound found in red wine, resveratrol, could be offering your body some of the same benefits as an hour of working out. I’m not saying this, but the study’s principal investigator Jason Dyck who got it published in the Journal of Physiology in May. In a statement to ScienceDaily, Dyck pointed out that resveratrol is your magic “natural compound” which lavishes you with the same benefits as you would earn from working out in the gym.And where do you find it? Fruits, nuts and of course, red wine! Did I forget to mention Dyck also researched resveratrol can “enhance exercise training and performance”? But, all is not gold as they say. If you’re a lady who likes to flaunt holding a glass of white wine in the club or simply a Chardonnay-lover,you have a bad (sad) news. The “one hour workout” formula only works with red wine, not non red wines. And don’t be mistaken and think you’ve managed 4 to 6 hours of workout sessions if you happen to gulp down a bottle of red wine. And what can replace the golden lifetime benefits of exercise?Exercise is just as important as you age. Period! But hey, don’t be discouraged; look at the bigger picture here. A glass of red wine is not a bad deal after all!

The health benefits of red wine

But just how beneficial is the red alcoholic beverage to your body? As we all know red wine is a healthier choice you can make when boozing. Let’s hear it from a registered dietitian. Leah Kaufman lists red wine as the “most calorie friendly” alcoholic beverage. Sure, you won’t mind adding up to a mere 100 calories per 5-ounce glass of red wine after you realize it contains antioxidants, lowers risk of heart disease and stroke, reduces risk of diabetes-related diseases, helps avoid formation of blood clots and lowers bad cholesterol level. Wine could also replace your mouthwash because the flavan-3-ols in red wines can control the “bad bacteria” in your mouth.To add to that list of benefits, moderate wine drinking may be beneficial for your eyes too – a recent study mentions. 

Be aware of the risks, too

Having mentioned all the ‘goods’ about red wine, you cannot underplay the fact that it is still an alcohol, which isn’t the best stuff to pour into your body. What is excessive drinking going to do to your body? Know the risks and you should be a good drinker at the end of the day. However, you don’t want to discard the red vino from your “right eating”regimen just because it stains your teeth blue. M-o-d-e-r-a-t-i-o-n. Did you read that? That’s the operative word when it comes to booze. By the way, when chocolate is paired with wine, particularly red, they can bring you some exceptional benefits towards your health.But again, if you tend to go overboard and booze down bottles after bottles, you are up for the negative side of alcohol, and we all know what too much of sweetness (sugar) can do to our body (open invitation to diabetes and heart diseases if you aren’t aware). Folks, the red grape beverage is certainly a good buy to have a good hour’s worth of cardio, provided you keep the ‘M’ word in mind. Cheers! “A good wine has many qualities, I think. If drunk moderately, it is healthy and good for your heart.” – Tom Araya

Best Trading Styles for CFD Traders

There are four basic trading styles which are used by most of the CFD traders, and those are trend trading or longer-term position trade, swing trade, day trade, and scalping. Here we will discuss those popular styles and provide the advanced idea of which style will be better for which type of traders.

Popular Trade styles in Forex

1.      Scalping

Scalping indicates a special type of trade, which generally stays less than 15 minutes for 15 to 20 pips of profit or less. When an investor is doing scalping, he does it by setting a time frame of 1 to 5 minutes. The opportunity of upside is limited here because larger time frames take all of the pips.

Experts do not recommend the practice of scalping for the newbies as there is a huge chance of loss in a shorter time frame. Scalping works as a defense management system as most of the traders have a lack of knowledge and effective business plan. Scalping has no future, and even some traders do not want to scalp generally. 

There are so many reasons to consider scalping as a bad trade strategy. Due to scalping Forex, the money management ration becomes negative, and eventually, a trader loses his funds. For each pip that is at risk, an investor cannot make more than one pip as profit. Experts know that this amount of profit is too small, and 50% of the time, they may lose their whole account.

Scalpers do not follow any appropriate style that can be helpful in the long run. Most of the businessmen face high risk with a lot of leveraging as a part of their scalping method as scalping is not a good practice, so it will be a good practice to use the other styles in the CFD market too. Scalping is considered a poor method which deals with a huge financial risk.

2.      Intraday trading

We find this style where the investors open a trade and close it on the same day. In the FX market, most of the activities occur in the main session, and a day business is executed base on the movement cycles of small time-frames such as M5, M15, or M30 with a duration of 1 to 6 hours. When someone enters into a day trading, his pip potential is generally 20 pips to 175 pips per entry, which mostly depends on market volatility.

3.      Swing trading

Swing is an individual cycle based on the H4 time-frame, and the holding time frame is 3 to 6 days or longer. Swing trade works best in a trending market, and if currency pairs are on an uptrend on frames like W1 and MN, then traders prefer to use H4 swing cycles. Experts believe the swing trading style will be helpful for beginners because it maintains the proper risk and reward ratio, and the amount of profit can be higher.

4.      Position trading

Position trade is guided by the highest time-frame such as D1 or W1 time frames, and investors hold the trade until the rise of the trend. A successful position trader always focuses on the risk management system by setting a stop-loss order in advance. In position trade, the holding period varies from weeks to months or even years, and it provides a great facility of liquidity.

There are so many styles for the Forex trade, but mastering the style varies from person to person. Some of the businessmen show their skill on swing business based on three to six days, and some of them prove their efficiency as day traders. But all of them are the same in the opinion that they should avoid the practice of scalping and set a mindset of trade based on a longer time frame with proper money management methods

The Universe Is Getting Hot, Hot, Hot, A New Study Suggests

Newswise — The universe is getting hotter, a new study has found. The study, published Oct. 13 in the Astrophysical Journal, probed the thermal history of the universe over the last 10 billion years. It found that the mean temperature of gas across the universe has increased more than 10 times over that time period and reached about 2 million degrees Kelvin today — approximately 4 million degrees Fahrenheit. “Our new measurement provides a direct confirmation of the seminal work by Jim Peebles — the 2019 Nobel Laureate in Physics — who laid out the theory of how the large-scale structure forms in the universe,” said Yi-Kuan Chiang, lead author of the study and a research fellow at The Ohio State University Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics.  The large-scale structure of the universe refers to the global patterns of galaxies and galaxy clusters on scales beyond individual galaxies. It is formed by the gravitational collapse of dark matter and gas.“As the universe evolves, gravity pulls dark matter and gas in space together into galaxies and clusters of galaxies,” Chiang said. “The drag is violent — so violent that more and more gas is shocked and heated up.”  The findings, Chiang said, showed scientists how to clock the progress of cosmic structure formation by “checking the temperature” of the universe.  The researchers used a new method that allowed them to estimate the temperature of gas farther away from Earth — which means further back in time — and compare them to gases closer to Earth and near the present time. Now, he said, researchers have confirmed that the universe is getting hotter over time due to the gravitational collapse of cosmic structure, and the heating will likely continue. To understand how the temperature of the universe has changed over time, researchers used data on light throughout space collected by two missions, Planck and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Planck is the European Space Agency mission that operates with heavy involvement from NASA; Sloan collects detailed images and light spectra from the universe. They combined data from the two missions and evaluated the distances of the hot gases near and far via measuring redshift, a notion that astrophysicists use to estimate the cosmic age at which distant objects are observed. (“Redshift” gets its name from the way wavelengths of light lengthen. The farther away something is in the universe, the longer its wavelength of light. Scientists who study the cosmos call that lengthening the redshift effect.)  The concept of redshift works because the light we see from objects farther away from Earth is older than the light we see from objects closer to Earth — the light from distant objects has traveled a longer journey to reach us. That fact, together with a method to estimate temperature from light, allowed the researchers to measure the mean temperature of gases in the early universe — gases that surround objects farther away — and compare that mean with the mean temperature of gases closer to Earth — gases today. Those gases in the universe today, the researchers found, reach temperatures of about 2 million degrees Kelvin — approximately 4 million degrees Fahrenheit, around objects closer to Earth. That is about 10 times the temperature of the gases around objects farther away and further back in time. The universe, Chiang said, is warming because of the natural process of galaxy and structure formation. It is unrelated to the warming on Earth. “These phenomena are happening on very different scales,” he said. “They are not at all connected.” This study was completed in collaborations with researchers at the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe, Johns Hopkins University, and the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics.  

UAE Widens 10-Year Residency ‘Golden’ Visa Eligibility

The United Arab Emirates will extend its “golden” visa system – which grants 10-year residency in the Gulf state – to certain professionals, specialized degree-holders and others, the UAE’s vice president said on Sunday.

Foreigners in the UAE usually have renewable visas valid for only a few years tied to employment. The government in the past couple of years has made its visa policy more flexible, offering longer residencies for certain types of investors, students and professionals.

All holders of doctorate degrees, medical doctors and also computer, electronics, programming, electrical and biotechnology engineers are eligible, UAE Vice President and the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum said in a statement.

Also eligible are those with specialized degrees in artificial intelligence, big data and epidemiology, as well as high school students living in the UAE who rank top in the country and students from certain universities with a GPA of 3.8 or higher.

After first announcing a long-term visa plan in 2018, the UAE in 2019 started granting 5- and 10-year renewable visas to certain foreign investors, entrepreneurs, chief executives, scientists and outstanding students.

The emirate of Dubai, a Middle East trade and tourism hub, in September said it would grant visas renewable every five years to wealthy foreign retirees.

An oil and gas producer, the UAE’s economy has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic and low oil prices, prompting many expatriates to leave.

US to Limit Work Permits for Aliens with Final Orders of Removal

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced a proposed rule that would limit discretionary work authorization for aliens who have final orders of removal and who have been temporarily released from DHS custody on an order of supervision (OSUP). The rule would align the issuance of discretionary employment authorization with the administration’s priorities to protect U.S. workers and strengthen immigration enforcement. The rule will encourage these aliens to depart the country. Orders of supervision allow DHS to place conditions on and monitor aliens with final orders of removal who have been temporarily released from DHS custody until DHS has the travel documents necessary to remove the alien from the United States. The OSUP contains several conditions for release, including a requirement that aliens cooperate with efforts to procure the travel documents for removal, check in with DHS on designated dates, and present themselves for removal once it is arranged. “Authorizing employment benefits to aliens who have already had due process and have been ordered removed by the U.S. government undermines the rule of law and weakens DHS enforcement and removal operations,” said USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow. “This effort would also remove the economic incentive for these aliens to not cooperate in the effort to obtain travel documents to return to their home countries.” Under current regulations, an alien who has a final order of removal and who is temporarily released from DHS custody on an OSUP is generally eligible for an employment authorization document (EAD). This creates a disincentive for the alien to depart or cooperate with their home country to obtain travel documents to depart the United States. These aliens have used substantial government resources throughout the removal process and have ultimately been ordered removed from the United States by an immigration judge. Under the proposed rule, only a small subset of these aliens who can demonstrate that DHS has determined that their removal from the United States is impracticable would remain eligible for discretionary employment authorization. DHS will require such aliens to establish economic necessity to work, consistent with other discretionary EAD categories, and USCIS will assess whether they warrant a favorable exercise of discretion for a grant of employment authorization.  In addition, aliens who qualify for discretionary employment authorization under the proposed rule and subsequently seek to renew their work authorization would also be required to establish that their employer participates in E-Verify and is in good standing in the program. The proposed rule also would limit the validity period of the employment authorization for aliens released on an OSUP to one year, regardless of whether it is an initial or a renewal employment authorization. When a final rule is published, the changes made by the rule will apply to initial and renewal applications filed on or after the final rule’s effective date. Aliens who are employment-authorized prior to the final rule’s effective date will remain employment authorized until the expiration date on their EAD, unless the EAD is terminated or revoked. The final rule also would not affect applications to replace EADs granted before the final rule’s effective date. 

USCIS Announces A Revised Version Of The Naturalization Civics Test

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced today plans to implement a revised version of the naturalization civics test. The agency first announced plans to revise the civics test in July 2019. USCIS revised the civics test as part of a decennial update to ensure that it remains an instrument that comprehensively assesses applicants’ knowledge of American history, government and civic values. The civics test is administered to applicants who apply for U.S. citizenship and is one of the statutory requirements for naturalizing. Applicants who apply for naturalization on or after Dec. 1, 2020, will take the updated version of the test.Those who apply before Dec. 1, 2020, will take the current version of the test. “USCIS has diligently worked on revising the naturalization test since 2018, relying on input from experts in the field of adult education to ensure that this process is fair and transparent,” said USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow. “Naturalization allows immigrants to become fully vested members of American society, with the same rights and responsibilities as citizens by birth, and offering a fair test, which prepares naturalization applicants for these responsibilities, is of upmost importance to our agency.” The revised test includes more questions that test the applicant’s understanding of U.S. history and civics, in line with the statutory requirements, and covers a variety of topics that provide the applicant with more opportunities to learn about the United States as part of the test preparation process. The revised test will not change the passing score, which will remain at 60%. Candidates must answer 12 questions correctly, out of 20 in order to pass. USCIS will maintain the current guidelines for statutorily established special considerations for applicants who are 65 years old or older and have at least 20 years of lawful permanent resident status. These applicants will be asked 10 questions and must answer a minimum of six questions correctly in order to pass. The test items and study guides can be found on the Citizenship Resource Center on the USCIS website. USCIS has also updated the USCIS Policy Manual (PDF, 323.82 KB) accordingly; see Volume 12, Part E, English and Civics Testing and Exceptions, Chapter 2, English and Civics Testing. USCIS piloted the test with community-based organizations and volunteers across the country in summer 2020. The data collected from this pilot was used to help USCIS make determinations about the language and grammatical structure of individual test items, linguistic and cognitive weights assigned to each test item, and to identify those items appropriate for applicants who are 65 years or older, have held lawful permanent resident status for at least 20 years and are granted special consideration by statute. For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook (/uscis) and LinkedIn (/uscis).

Dr. Céline Gounder, Adviser To Joe Biden Covid

When President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January, he will inherit a pandemic that has convulsed the country. His transition team last week announced a 13-member team of scientists and doctors who will advise on control of the coronavirus.

One of them is Dr. Céline Gounder, an infectious disease specialist at Bellevue Hospital Center and assistant professor at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine. In a wide-ranging conversation with The New York Times, she discussed plans to prioritize racial inequities, to keep schools open as long as possible, and to restore the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the premiere public health agency in the world.

In an interview with the New York Times, Gounder said, “I’m a part of the Biden-Harris advisory board. Then there’s the internal transition team, which is much bigger. The transition team has been developing a COVID blueprint, the nuts and bolts of the operations, and this is something they’ve been working on for months.” Describing the objective of the advisory board, she said,  “The purpose of the advisory board is really to have a group of people who think big, creatively and in interdisciplinary ways — to be a second set of eyes on the blueprint they’ve come up with, and also to function as a liaison with state and local health departments.

On th question of returning to normal life, Dr. Gounder said, “If you have widespread community transmission, there may come a tipping point where you do need to go back to virtual schooling. But I think the priority is to try to keep schools open as much as possible, and to provide the resources for that to happen. From an epidemiologic perspective, we know that the highest-risk settings are restaurants, bars, gyms, nail salons and also indoor gatherings — social gatherings and private settings.”

After months of criticism and ignoring by Trump of CDC, Dr. Gounder said, “The approach is going to be much more along the lines of giving control back to the CDC. There’s recognition that the CDC is the premier public health agency in the world. And while their role has been diminished during this current crisis, they play a very important role in all this.”

While pointing the vaccines, and its distribution, she said, “our local doctor’s office is not going to have the deep-freeze capability that, at least for the Pfizer vaccine, you’re going to need. They’re not necessarily going to have the tech systems to track and call people back to make sure they get their second doses.”

The incoming administration is contemplating state mask mandates, free testing for everyone and invocation of the Defense Production Act to ramp up supplies of protective gear for health workers. Indeed, that will be “one of the first executive orders” of the Biden administration, Dr. Gounder said.

U.S. Allows Emergency Use Of First COVID-19 Antibody Drug

(Reuters) – U.S. regulators on Monday authorized emergency use of the first experimental antibody drug for COVID-19 in patients who are not hospitalized but are at risk of serious illness because of their age or other conditions. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization (EUA) to Eli Lilly & Co’s bamlanivimab based on trial data showing that a one-time infusion of the treatment reduced the need for hospitalization or emergency room visits in high-risk COVID-19 patients. The drug is a monoclonal antibody – a widely used class of biotech drugs which in this case is a manufactured copy of an antibody the human body creates to fight infections. A similar treatment developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc was given to U.S. President Donald Trump after he caught the coronavirus in early October. The nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said it likely contributed to Trump’s recovery. The White House, in an emailed statement, hailed the FDA’s decision as “a major milestone.” Regeneron is also seeking an EUA for its dual-antibody against COVID-19.The FDA said Lilly’s antibody can be used for anyone over the age of 65 who is recently diagnosed with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 and for patients age 12 and older who have an underlying health condition putting them at risk for serious illness. It was not authorized for hospitalized patients nor for those who required oxygen therapy due to COVID-19 as it could worsen clinical outcomes for such patients. A U.S. government-sponsored study of bamlanivimab in hospitalized COVID-19 patients was recently abandoned because the treatment was not shown to be helping. Lilly said it will begin shipping bamlanivimab immediately through distributor AmerisourceBergen, but regional allocations of the drug will be determined by the federal government. The U.S. government has purchased 300,000 doses of the treatment and committed that Americans will have no out-of-pocket costs for the medicine, although healthcare facilities may charge a fee for the product’s administration. Lilly anticipates manufacturing up to one million doses of bamlanivimab by the end of 2020, for use around the world through early next year. Beginning in first-quarter 2021, it expects the supply to increase substantially, as additional manufacturing resources come online. Under the EUA, the FDA said Lilly will retain an independent third party to conduct a review of records and underlying data and associated discrepancies of bamlanivimab drug substance manufactured at the company’s Branchburg, New Jersey plant. Reuters on Oct. 13 reported that inspectors who visited the Branchburg plant in November 2019 found data on various manufacturing processes had been deleted and not appropriately audited, according to government inspection documents. Lilly has said it plans to pursue a similar authorization in November for its two-antibody cocktail, which it described as having helped reduce viral levels even more than the single-antibody treatment. Shares of the Indianapolis drugmaker, which closed little changed at $142.33 in regular trading, were up 3.6% after hours.(By Deena Beasley. Additional reporting by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom Brown and Stephen Coates)

Researchers Identify Promising New Compounds to Potentially Treat Novel Coronaviruses

Newswise — Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) and School of Pharmacy (UMSOP) have discovered new drug compounds to potentially treat the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The compounds disrupt the functioning of a protein complex inside human cells that the researchers discovered is critical for the replication and survival of coronaviruses. This finding could lead to the development of new broad-spectrum antiviral drugs that target viruses such as influenza, Ebola and coronaviruses, according to a new study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal.  

The protein complex, called SKI complex, is a group of human proteins that regulates various aspects of the normal functioning of a cell. In the new study, the researchers discovered that this complex also plays a crucial role in helping a virus replicate its genetic material, called RNA, within the cells it infects.

“We determined that disrupting the SKI complex keeps the virus from copying itself, which essentially destroys it,” said study corresponding author Matthew Frieman, PhD, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the UMSOM. “We also identified compounds that targeted the SKI complex, not only inhibiting coronaviruses but also influenza viruses and filoviruses, such as the one that causes Ebola.”

He and his colleagues from the School of Pharmacy’s Computer-Aided Drug Design Center and the Center for Biomolecular Therapeutics at the UMSOM used computer modeling to identify a binding site on the SKI complex and identified chemical compounds that could bind to this site. Subsequent experimental analysis showed these compounds to have antiviral activity against coronaviruses, influenza viruses, and filoviruses (such as Ebola). Researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also participated in this study.

The study was funded by Emergent BioSolutions, a biopharmaceutical company based in Gaithersburg, MD.

“These findings present an important first step in identifying potential new antivirals that could be used to treat a broad number of deadly infectious diseases,” said study lead author Stuart Weston, PhD, a research fellow at the UMSOM. Such drugs have the potential to treat infectious disease associated with future pandemics. Next steps include conducting animal studies to learn more about the safety and efficacy of these experimental compounds, which are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

In other research efforts funded by the federal government, Dr. Frieman and his team are rapidly testing hundreds of drugs, approved and marketed for other conditions, to see whether any can be repurposed to prevent or treat COVID-19.

“As we face a potentially long, hard winter with COVID-19, our researchers continue their sustained efforts to advance innovations,” said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Basic research remains a vital part of this effort to leave us prepared for the next global pandemic.”

About the University of Maryland School of Medicine

Now in its third century, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world — with 45 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs; and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a distinguished two-time winner of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research.  With an operating budget of more than $1.2 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic and clinically based care for nearly 2 million patients each year.

The School of Medicine has more than $563 million in extramural funding, with most of its academic departments highly ranked among all medical schools in the nation in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total population of nearly 9,000 faculty and staff, including 2,500 student trainees, residents, and fellows.

The combined School of Medicine and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has an annual budget of nearly $6 billion and an economic impact more than $15 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine, which ranks as the 8th highest among public medical schools in research productivity, is an innovator in translational medicine, with 600 active patents and 24 start-up companies. The School of Medicine works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit medschool.umaryland.edu

(By University of Maryland Medical Center)

Life After COVID-19 Hospitalization

Newswise — Surviving a case of COVID-19 that’s bad enough to land you in the hospital is hard enough. But life after the hospital stay – and especially after an intensive care stay – is no bed of roses, either, according to a new study. Within two months of leaving the hospital, nearly 7% of the patients had died, including more than 10% of the patients treated in an ICU. Fifteen percent had ended up back in the hospital. The data come from more than 1,250 patients treated in 38 hospitals across Michigan this spring and summer, when the state was one of the earliest to experience a peak in cases. When researchers interviewed 488 of the surviving patients by phone around 60 days after their hospitalization, they heard a litany of health and life woes. They’ve published their findings in the Annals of Internal Medicine. “These data suggest that the burden of COVID-19 extends far beyond the hospital and far beyond health,” says Vineet Chopra, M.D., M.Sc., lead author of the study and chief of hospital medicine at Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan’s academic medical center. “The mental, financial and physical tolls of this disease among survivors appear substantial.” Lasting effects More than 39% of the patients interviewed said they hadn’t gotten back to normal activities yet, two months after leaving the hospital. Twelve percent of the patients said they couldn’t carry out basic care for themselves anymore, or as well as before. Nearly 23% said they became short of breath just climbing a flight of stairs. One-third had ongoing COVID-like symptoms, including many who still had problems with taste or smell. Of those who had jobs before their bout with COVID-19, 40% said they couldn’t return to work, most because of their health and some because they’d lost their job. And 26% of those who had gone back to work said they had to work fewer hours or have reduced duties because of their health.Nearly half of those interviewed said they’d been emotionally affected by their experience with COVID-19 – including a minority who said they’d sought mental health care. More than a third – 37% — of those interviewed said their experience with COVID-19 had left them with at least a minor financial impact. Nearly 10% said they’d used up most or all of their savings, and 7% said they were rationing food, heat, housing or medications because of cost. “The sheer number of people struggling after COVID brings new urgency to developing programs to better promote and support recovery after acute illness,” says Hallie Prescott, M.D., M.Sc., senior author and pulmonary/critical care physician at University of Michigan and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. More about the study The study used date from the MI-COVID19 initiative, which rapidly evolved in April as a way for Michigan hospitals to pool and analyze data on their COVID-19 patients. It grew out of existing multi-hospital quality improvement efforts funded by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and drew on existing staff who are experienced at analyzing medical records and interviewing patients. That gave researchers a head start on studying COVID-19 patients treated in most of the hospitals that received such patients in the early-peak state of Michigan. Details obtained from patient medical records, and in-depth interviews conducted after attempting to contact patients by phone multiple times, give a picture of what life is like for post-COVID patients.Nearly 52% of the patients in the study are Black, and 4% are Hispanic. The average age is 62, and 83% lived at home before being hospitalized for COVID-19. More than 14% had no chronic conditions before COVID-19 landed them in the hospital, and for many others the only condition they had was high blood pressure. The well-known risk factors of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and kidney disease were present in about a quarter of patients. While hospital care for COVID-19 patients has improved since the early months of the pandemic, the study shows that the 63% of patients who were ever treated in an ICU had died during their hospital stay or within two months of leaving the hospital. That’s more than twice the rate for patients hospitalized but not admitted to an ICU. Chopra and Prescott worked on the study with co-authors Scott Flanders, M.D., M.Sc., a hospitalist and chief clinical strategy officer for Michigan Medicine, statistician Megan O’Malley, Ph.D. and Anurag Malani, M.D., an infectious disease physician at St. Joseph Mercy Health in Ypsilanti, Michigan.Chopra, Prescott and Flanders are members of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. 

Dr. Fauci Offers 2021 Forecast On COVID-19 Vaccines, Treatments

SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and various new treatments for COVID-19 may be on their way even before 2020 ends, but the damage caused by the deadly novel coronavirus may linger for months or even years, said Anthony S. Fauci, MD, during an exclusive interview presented during a Saturday plenary session of the November 2020 AMA Section Meetings.

In his interview with AMA Executive Vice President and CEO James L. Madara, MD, Dr. Fauci said no one is certain how long vaccine protection will last. He added that physicians and other health professionals in hospitals are learning more about how to treat patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, cutting the COVID-19 mortality rate in the U.S.

“We just get better at treating the disease. We know what works, what doesn’t work,” he said. Experience has taught doctors more about whether to put people on ventilators, how much oxygen to provide during intubation, and managing the treatment process.

“We know that dexamethasone clearly diminishes the death rate in people requiring mechanical ventilation and/or people who require high-flow oxygen,” Dr. Fauci said. “We have remdesivir for hospitalized patients who have lung involvement.”

Treatments or prophylaxis with anticoagulants for some patients is now common for COVID-19, added Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force.

 Death rates fall as patients get younger

“And we are starting to see a younger population get infected,” people who are most likely to survive the effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection, Dr. Fauci said. However, while the death rate is improving, the effect of the virus may linger longer than the diagnosed infection.

“We do know for absolutely certain that there is a post-COVID syndrome,” Dr. Fauci said. “Anywhere from 25% to 35%—or more—have lingering symptoms well beyond what you would expect from any post viral syndrome like influenza and others. It’s fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle aches, dysautonomia, sleep disturbances and what people refer to as brain fog,” he said, or an inability to focus or concentrate.

“That can last anywhere from weeks to months,” he explained. Cardiologists also report that even among asymptomatic COVID patients, about 60% have some indication of inflammation of the heart which may or may not have a future effect on cardiac health. A patient and a physician shared their experiences as COVID-19 long haulers during a recent episode of the “AMA COVID-19 Update.”

Vaccines are on the way

Vaccines are the hope of the future and they are on their way, Dr. Fauci said, with six candidates already at various stages of clinical trials and testing. Five of the six are already in phase 3 trials and two of them—the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine candidates—are fully enrolled and collecting data on efficacy and safety.

“The issue of vaccines is actually good news at a time of considerable concern and stress about the outbreak. As we get into November and then maybe into December, we will get an answer as to whether one or more of these candidates are safe and effective. I am cautiously optimistic,” he said.

More questions remain

Following this evaluation, vaccines can then be distributed beginning with individuals with the highest priorities, such as medical workers on the front lines. However, two questions remain, he said.

“How effective would the vaccine be and, as importantly, how many individuals will opt to take the vaccine? But if we get a reasonably effective vaccine of 70% to 75% and a substantial proportion of the population takes the vaccine, I think we will be going in the right direction of some degree of normality as we head into 2021 in the second, third and fourth quarter,” he said.

The more effective the vaccine and the more people take the vaccine, the better a prospect for herd immunity, a situation in which future infection is less possible, he said.

Once vaccines are developed and one or more are chosen for distribution, there still may be more to learn about protecting individuals from COVID-19 with vaccines. The durability of immune protection is still unknown, Dr. Fauci said.

From what researchers know about studies of the coronaviruses that cause the annual common cold, coronavirus immunity is measured in months to a year, not like measles immunity, which lasts a lifetime. Immune response from an illness seems to vary by how serious or systemic an infection is. “When someone gets sick … we don’t know how long the antibody protection is going to last,” Dr. Fauci said.

(Len Strazewski, Contributing News Writer at American Medical Association)

How Desert Dust Storms Supply Vital Nutrients to the Oceans

A dust story in El Fasher, North Darfur. This is a natural weather phenomenon in Darfur which occurs regularly between March and July every year. It affects all aspects of daily life in the region, including airline flights. Scientists say these storms have a range of affects that are not clearly understood. Courtesy: CC By 2.0/ Mohamad Almahady, UNAMID.

When sand and dust storms (SDS) rage in the Sahara Desert, more than 10,000 km away in the Caribbean Sea the very same storms have a range of effects on the 1,360 species of shorefish that populate the waters there.

According to a report released last week by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), each year about half a billion tonnes of nutrients, minerals, and organic inorganic matter is transferred to the oceans through SDS.

But as Dr. Nick Middleton, a fellow in physical geography at St Anne’s College at the University of Oxford and author of the UNEP report titled “Impacts of Sand and Dust Storms on Oceans”, told IPS, “our understanding of how dust affects marine waters is far from complete”. 

Though he added that the upcoming U.N. Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development will be an exciting opportunity to help scientists gain a better understanding of issues such as how much dust from SDS reaches the oceans. In his interview, Middleton said that this decade is an important time to consider the ways in which SDS affect issues such as biodiversity, the climate, and food systems.

“The U.N. Decade offers exciting opportunities to improve our understanding of some of these basic issues. Nobody lives permanently in the open oceans, so historically we have had to rely on scientists on ships to take measurements when and where they are able.

“Hence, the data we have on dust in the atmosphere and deposited over the oceans is patchy and sporadic at best. The use of geostationary satellites is improving our capacity to monitor dust, but there is no substitute for taking real samples at sea,” Middleton told IPS.

And as Jian Lu, Director of the Science Division at UNEP, said in the report: “Desert dust is a principal driver of oceanic primary productivity, which forms the base of the marine food web and fuels the global carbon cycle.” 

“One of the clear messages from this report is the simple fact that many aspects of the impacts of SDS on the oceans are only partially understood,” Lu said. “Despite the limited knowledge, the impacts of SDS on oceans—their ecosystem functions, goods and services—are potentially numerous and wide-ranging, thus warranting continued careful monitoring and research.”

“Many scientists predict that as our climate warms dust storms will become more frequent in certain parts of the world where the climate becomes drier and soils will be protected by less vegetation,” Middleton added. “More dust in these places will inevitably have complex feedback effects on climate and what happens in the oceans.”

Excerpts of the interview below.

Inter Press Service (IPS): Jian Liu said in the report the impacts of sand and dust storms on the oceans are only partially understood. What are some under-reported issues about the impact of sand and dust storms on oceans?

Dr Nick Middleton (NM): One aspect that needs more accurate assessment is the amount of desert dust transported to the world’s oceans each year. When they occur, we can see great plumes of dust above the oceans on satellite imagery, but we only have a rough idea of how much dust is involved. We estimate that anything between one billion and five billion tonnes of desert dust are emitted into the atmosphere by SDS every year on average. Two billion tonnes is the current best estimate, and 25 percent of that reaches the oceans, with all sorts of effects on marine ecosystems. However, most of these estimates come from computer models which are imperfect at simulating all the numerous processes involved in lifting, transporting and depositing dust to the sea.

We know that desert dust delivers some vital nutrients to the oceans, but our understanding of how dust affects marine waters is far from complete. For instance, dust probably has an impact on the energy balance in several oceans, affecting the circulation of heat and salt. These circulation regimes have implications for marine life, but our understanding of the details is hazy at best.

IPS: The U.N.  Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021–2030) is scheduled to start in 2021. What are some issues that you believe should be addressed during this time?

NM: The U.N. Decade could initiate a great leap forward in our understanding if it presided over the establishment of a network of study sites across different oceans to take long-term measurements of dust in the atmosphere and as it is deposited on the ocean surface. Buoys can be used as platforms for autonomous sampling of dust and other weather variables, and their data transmitted to researchers.

Long-term datasets are vitally important, but they cannot replace experiments conducted from ships at sea. The U.N. Decade can also promote coordinated experiments involving both atmospheric and marine measurements to address some of the processes in which desert dust is important. One such role is how iron and phosphorus carried with desert dust helps to fertilise large areas of ocean surface, and may also impact local climate.

IPS: The report establishes a link between desert dust and coral reef systems; it also suggests a potential link between disease arising from microorganisms and a decline in coral reefs worldwide. What kind of impact do sand and dust storms have on biological diversity overall, and on human life?

NM: Dust raised in SDS and transported to the oceans helps to sustain the biodiversity of large marine areas. One of the most direct effects is the incorporation of tiny dust particles into coral skeletons as they grow. Nutrients carried on desert dust particles also fuel the growth of marine microorganisms such as phytoplankton, which form the base of the marine food web.

Human society relies on fish and other products from the sea, but the fertilising effect of desert dust is also thought to have an impact on algal blooms, some of which are detrimental to economic activity and human health. Certain harmful algal blooms contain species that produce strong toxins which become concentrated up the food chain, becoming harmful to people who eat contaminated seafood.

IPS: Dust has significant impacts on weather and climate in several ways. In what ways are sand and dust storms linked to issues such as climate change? 

NM: Dust in the atmosphere affects the energy balance of the Earth system because these fine particles scatter, absorb and re-emit radiation in the atmosphere. Dust particles also serve as nuclei on which water vapour condenses, helping to form clouds, and the chemical composition of dust affects the acidity of rainfall. Dust from the Sahara is regularly transported through the atmosphere over the tropical North Atlantic Ocean where it can have a cooling effect on sea surface temperatures. In turn, the cooler sea surface changes wind fields and the development of hurricanes. A year with more Saharan dust usually translates into fewer hurricanes over the North Atlantic.

Future trends in desert dust emissions are uncertain. They will depend on changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation – how much falls, when and where.

IPS: Are there ways in which sand and dust storms have an impact (direct or indirect) on the coronavirus pandemic? 

NM: Links between sand and dust storms and the coronavirus pandemic are quite possible, but inevitably work on such potential links at an early stage. We know that SDS are a risk factor for a range of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, so someone exposed to both COVID-19 and air pollution from dust storms may experience particularly harmful effects. For instance, one recent study in Northern Italy established an association between higher mortality rates due to COVID-19 and peaks of atmospheric concentrations of small particulate matter. Saharan dust frequently contributes to poor air quality in Italy, but a direct causal link between desert dust and suffering from COVID-19 has not been established to date. There are numerous other factors to take into account.

We also know that many SDS source areas contribute many types of microorganisms (such as fungi, bacteria and viruses) to desert dust, and that these microorganisms are very resilient. SDS can also transport viruses over great distances (greater than 1,000 km), sometimes between continents. Long-range transport of desert dust has been linked to some historical dispersal/outbreak events of several diseases, including Avian influenza outbreaks in areas downwind of Asian dust storms.

(By Samira Sadeque)

A Suitable Boy To Debut on BBC

One of the BBC’s most ambitious and cinematic TV series ever makes its highly-anticipated Stateside debut on Acorn TV this December: A Suitable Boy, an epic tale of life and love set in vibrant 1950s India in the first screen adaptation of the classic, bestselling, 1,349-page novel of the same name by Vikram Seth. With a dynamic cast of India’s most well-known actors alongside rising stars, this six-part, six-hour drama tells the story of spirited university student Lata Mehra as she comes of age in North India at the same time as the country is carving out its own identity as an independent nation and is about to go to the polls for its first democratic general election. A Suitable Boy will premiere exclusively on Acorn TV in the U.S. and Canada with two episodes on Monday, December 7, 2020, and weekly episodes every Monday through January 4, 2021. This series premiered on BBC One on July 26, 2020 as one of its highest-rated launches this year. Recently the first series ever to close the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival, this sweeping period drama is directed by Oscar-nominated film director Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, The Namesake, Mississippi Masala) in her television series debut and adapted by Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice, War and Peace, Les Misérables). Shot in stunning locations exclusively in India last year, this drama features BBC’s first-ever all-Indian lead cast including Indian screen legend Tabu (The Namesake, Life of Pi, Andhadhun) and Bollywood leading man Ishaan Khatter (Beyond the Clouds, Dhadak.)  Vikram Seth is one of the series’ executive producers. Acorn TV is North America’s most popular and largest streaming service focused on British and international television. Called “a glorious streaming service… an essential must-have” by The Hollywood Reporter, “Netflix for the Anglophile” by NPR and recommended for featuring “the most robust, reliable selection of European, British, Canadian and Australian shows”  by The New York Times, AMC Networks’ Acorn TV has quickly become one of the leading streamers for a specialized audience and is commercial free. Acorn TV currently features the charming medical drama The Good Karma Hospital starring Amita Acharia, the highest-rated UK program of 2019,  Line of Duty, Series 5 from Jed Mercurio (Bodyguard), the compelling documentary Bollywood: The World’s Biggest Film Industry and the movie The Boy with the Topknot. Acorn TV offers a 7-day free trial – sign up at http://signup.acorn.tvA Suitable Boy is a vast, panoramic tale charting the fortunes of four interwoven families across northern India in 1951 – four years after India declared independence from the British. Their stories play out during this most tumultuous period and reflect the wider conflict between tradition and modernity at the time, as the series explores the country and its rich and varied culture at a crucial point in its history – through eye-popping, colorful scenes of ornate wedding and funeral ceremonies, religious festivals and rituals, passionate riots and political fights, and haunting musical performances. The series’ central female character is 19-year-old literature student Lata Mehra (portrayed by rising star Tanya Maniktala), who seems to have her life already mapped out, thanks to old traditions – and her meddling yet well-intentioned mother, Rupa (Mahira Kakkar), who wants to find her a suitable husband. Torn between family duty and the excitement of romance and inspired by rebellious Western writers and daring new ideas, Lata is determined to embark on her own journey of love and self-discovery as she decides her own future against the turbulent backdrop of post-Partition India. Over the course of the series, three very different men try to win Lata’s heart: the dashing, yet mysterious university student and star cricket player Kabir Durrani (Danesh Razvi), self-made shoe salesman Haresh Khanna (Namit Das) and lawyer-turned-writer Amit Chatterji (Mikhail Sen). Connected to Lata through their siblings’ marriage, the charming and passionate but directionless Maan Kapoor (Khatter) is determined to enjoy life to the fullest. His behavior has been hugely disappointing for his father, the progressive Revenue Minister Mahesh Kapoor (Ram Kapoor), who can’t let anything unbalance his political career at a crucial moment.  However when Raam becomes infatuated with the glamorous yet much older singer and courtesan Saaeda Bai (Tabu), the consequences could be catastrophic. His best friend is lawyer Firoz Ali Khan (Shubham Saraf), son of the wealthy Nawab Sahib of Baktar. Says Mira Nair about the series: “A Suitable Boy has been one of my favourite novels since the day it was written. I read it repeatedly and felt as if it was my best friend. I felt a sense of great companionship and understanding and a sense of evoking a time in India in which I longed to have lived…It’s an extraordinary tale of love and friendship across class and certainly across religion. Vikram Seth is able to reach the depths of human relationships – the heart, the mind and love in all its peculiarities. It’s universal and affects and relates to everyone…[The series] gives me this vast canvas as I have 113 actors in the show and six hours to let the story unfold…It’s so full of surprises and rhythms, where things need their time and their pace.” A Suitable Boy was produced by Lookout Point (War and Peace, Les Misérables, Gentleman Jack), and is internationally distributed by BBC Studios.  The series’ glorious score is composed by BAFTA-winning composer Alex Heffes (Touching the Void), with world renowned sitar player Anoushka Shankar (her first for a TV series). The original television soundtrack for A Suitable Boy – released by Silva Screen Records – is now streaming in the U.S. and Canada. 


Chargrilled Chicken Cafreal

Nothing beats perfectly seasoned juicy chicken legs cooked to tender perfection when it comes to chargrilling bone-in protein. The recipe below is exactly the same but more delicious and healthy for its made in a herby green Goan style marinade using skinless chicken legs. How I developed this recipe- I love herbs and green curries. Traditional Goan cafreal being a green spicy curry, is one among those. But not everyone at my home is a curry person. Chargrilled chicken is family’s favourite. I developed this recipe for I loved the freshness and tanginess of the green marinade and hence wanted to try it for the weekend grill, which turned out to be super good. What’s special about this recipe- Leaner protein- Unlike traditional indian grilled chicken dishes, this recipes calls for skinless chicken legs and thus is less in saturated chicken skin fat. Fresh marinade- The chicken legs are marinated in a fresh ground herb and green chilli marinade with the addition of tangy lemon juice and few spices.  What you’ll need- 4 skinless whole chicken legs (thighs+drumsticks)Half tablespoon turmeric powder10 destalked green chillies 1 inch cinnamon stick1 tablespoon black pepper 4 cloves 1 bay leaf 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste2 cups fresh coriander leaves with stems 1 teaspoon cumin seeds Juice of 2 lemonsSalt to taste4 tablespoon oil 

How to make- Grind everything listed above except chicken.Marinate the chicken pieces in it for atleast 20 mins or better overnight in the refrigerator.Chargrill the chicken legs on heated coal on both sides until slightly charred on the outside and cooked through in the inside.Serve hot. Notes, tips & suggestions-. Use 2-3 green chillies lesser than listed for a less hotter version.. This tastes great with fresh red onion salad and yogurt dip. Thanks,CERTINA 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joe Biden Elected 46th President of the United States

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Azim Premji Tops India Philanthropy List 2020

Wipro’s Founder Chairman Azim Premji and his family have topped the EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2020 with contribution of Rs 7,904 crore. According to the seventh edition of EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2020, Ajit Premji has been the most generous philanthropist in India for 2020. He has donated Rs. 22 crore per day. “Azim Premji Endowment Fund owns 13.6 per cent of the promoter’s shareholding in Wipro and has the right to receive all money earned from promoter shares. On 1 April 2020, Azim Premji Foundation (Rs 1,000 crore), Wipro (Rs 100 crore), and Wipro Enterprises (INR 25 crore) have committed INR 1,125 crore towards tackling the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak. These are in addition to the annual CSR activities of Wipro, and the usual philanthropic spending of the Azim Premji Foundation,” the press statement by EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2020 read. “Azim Premji is a role model for Indian philanthropy and is continuing to inspire other entrepreneurs into giving,” Anas Rahman Junaid, MD and Chief Researcher, Hurun India, said. HCL’S Shiv Nadar, 75, ranked second with Rs 795 crore donation. As of 2019, Nadar has invested over $800 million through the Foundation, impacting over 30,000 students directly. Nadar’s wife, Kiran Nadar chairs the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, India’s first private philanthropic art museum exhibiting modern and contemporary works from India and the subcontinent.

With a donation of Rs 458 crore by richest India Mukesh Ambani, who is the Chairman of Reliance Industries, came third. On March 30, Reliance Industries announced a donation of Rs 500 crore to the PM CARES Fund and Rs 5 crore each to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund of Maharashtra and Chief Minister’s Relief Fund of Gujarat to support their fights against the Covid-19. Kumar Mangalam Birla, who donated Rs 276 crore, ranked fourth in EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2020. On April 3, Aditya Birla Group donated Rs 400 crore to the PM CARES Fund and Rs 50 crore to FICCI-Aditya Birla CSR Centre for Excellence. Also, allocated Rs 50 crore for supplying N95 Masks, PPE’s and ventilators.The fifth position is occupied by the founder and chairman of Vedanta, Anil Agarwal who donated Rs 215 crore. In September 2014 Anil Agarwal pledged 75 per cent of his wealth to charity. The foundation work towards education and computer literacy, vocational training, women and child empowerment, and community welfare. The Founder Chairman of HCL Technologies, Shiv Nadar, and his family ranked second, followed by richest Indian Mukesh Ambani, the Chairman of Reliance Industries (RIL), in the third spot. Nadar and his family contributed Rs 795 crore for charitable causes while Ambani and family’s contributions stood at Rs 458 crore.

The fourth spot was secured by Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, Aditya Birla Group, followed by Anil Agarwal, Chairman, Vedanta Group, in fifth spot. Mumbai topped the preferred city of residence for top philanthropists with 36 names from the city making it to the list. Delhi and Bengaluru followed as second and third cities, respectively.

Education remained the biggest cause supported by the donors in India. Healthcare and water conversation witnessed a spike in donations compared to last year. “Reports of this nature are rare, but give us deep insight into the philanthropic sector and the patterns of giving that are ever-evolving. This year, we also looked at our methodology very closely e ensuring we keep the process transparent and proactively invite leaders of a diverse group to participate in the list,” Vidya Shah, Chairperson and CEO, EdelGive Foundation.

Twenty-eight philanthropists entered the EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2020 for the first time. The top new additions in the list included S.D. Shibulal of Infosys with a donation of Rs 32 crore, followed by Amit and Archana Chandra of A.T.E. Chandra Foundation who donated Rs 27 crore.

Anas Rahman Junaid, MD and Chief Researcher of Hurun India, said: “The preferred cause of India’s top philanthropists has been education, although poverty alleviation has grown dramatically to become the second most popular cause this year.”

A statement said that Rohini Nilekani, who donates through Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies, is India’s “most generous” woman, followed by Anu Aga and family of Thermax. Binny Bansal is the only philanthropist under the age of 40 to enter the philanthropy list. (IANS) 

Pfizer, Biontech Say Their COVID-19 Vaccine Is Over 90% Effective

The first effective coronavirus vaccine can prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid-19, a preliminary analysis shows. The developers – Pfizer and BioNTech – described it as a “great day for science and humanity”. Their vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people in six countries and no safety concerns have been raised.  The companies plan to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of the month.

Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE are the first drugmakers to release successful data from a large-scale clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine. The companies said they have so far found no serious safety concerns and expect to seek U.S. authorization this month for emergency use of the vaccine.

If authorized, the number of doses will initially be limited and many questions remain, including how long the vaccine will provide protection. However, the news provides hope that other COVID-19 vaccines in development may also prove effective.

No vaccine has gone from the drawing board to being proven highly effective in such a short period of time.  There are still huge challenges ahead, but the announcement has been warmly welcomed with scientists describing themselves smiling “ear to ear” and some suggesting life could be back to normal by spring.

“I am probably the first guy to say that, but I will say that with some confidence,” said Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University. A vaccine – alongside better treatments – is seen as the best way of getting out of the restrictions that have been imposed on all our lives.

The data shows that two doses, three weeks apart, are needed. The trials – in US, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and Turkey – show 90% protection is achieved seven days after the second dose.

However, the data presented is not the final analysis as it is based on only the first 94 volunteers to develop Covid so the precise effectiveness of the vaccine may change when the full results are analysed.

Dr Albert Bourla, the chairman of Pfizer, said: “We are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis.” Prof Ugur Sahin, one of the founders of BioNTech, described the results as a “milestone”.

A limited number of people may get the vaccine this year. Pfizer and BioNTech say they will have enough safety data by the third week of November to take their vaccine to regulators.  Until it has been approved it will not be possible for countries to begin their vaccination campaigns.  The two companies say they will be able to supply 50 million doses by the end of this year and around 1.3 billion by the end of 2021. Each person needs two doses.

The UK should get 10 million doses by the end of the year, with a further 30 million doses already ordered.

Who would get it?

Not everyone will get the vaccine straight away and countries are each deciding who should be prioritised.  Hospital staff and care home workers will be near the top of every list because of the vulnerable people they work with, as will the elderly who are most at risk of severe disease.

The UK is likely to prioritise older resident in care homes and the people that work there. But it says a final decision has not been made, saying it will depend on how well the vaccine works in different age-groups and how the virus is spreading.  People under 50 and with no medical problems are likely to be last in the queue.

Are there any potential problems?

There are still many unanswered questions as this is only interim data.  We do not know if the vaccine stops you spreading the virus or just from developing symptoms. Or if it works equally well in high-risk elderly people. The biggest question – how long does immunity last – will take months or potentially years to answer.

There are also massive manufacturing and logistical challenges in immunising huge numbers of people, as the vaccine has to be kept in ultra-cold storage at below minus 80C. The vaccine appears safe from the large trials so far but nothing, including paracetamol, is 100% safe.

How does it work?

There are around a dozen vaccines in the final stages of testing – known as a phase 3 trial – but this is the first to show any results.  It uses a completely experimental approach – that involves injecting part of the virus’s genetic code – in order to train the immune system.

Previous trials have shown the vaccine trains the body to make both antibodies – and another part of the immune system called T-cells to fight the coronavirus. “Today is a great day for science and humanity,” Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive, said.

“We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity and economies struggling to reopen.”

BioNTech Chief Executive Ugur Sahin told Reuters he was optimistic the immunisation effect of the vaccine would last for a year although that was not certain yet.

“The efficacy data are really impressive. This is better than most of us anticipated,” said William Schaffner, infectious diseases expert at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee. “The study isn’t completed yet, but nonetheless the data look very solid.”

The prospect of a vaccine electrified world markets with S&P 500 futures hitting a record high and tourism and travel shares surging. Stocks in European airlines such as ICAG, Lufthansa and AirFrance KLM jumped a third.  “Light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s just hope the vaccine deniers won’t get in the way, but 2021 just got a lot brighter,” said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com

Shares of other COVID-19 vaccine developers in the final stage of testing also rose with Johnson & Johnson up 3.3% in pre-market trading and Moderna 4.1% stronger. Britain’s AstraZeneca, however, was down 2.1% after earlier rising 0.5% on the news.

Pfizer expects to seek broad U.S. authorization for emergency use of the vaccine for people aged 16 to 85. To do so, it will need two months of safety data from about half the study’s 44,000 participants, which his expected late this month.

“I’m near ecstatic,” Bill Gruber, one of Pfizer’s top vaccine scientists, said in an interview. “This is a great day for public health and for the potential to get us all out of the circumstances we’re now in.”

Pfizer and BioNTech have a $1.95 billion contract with the U.S. government to deliver 100 million vaccine doses beginning this year. They have also reached supply agreements with the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada and Japan.

To save time, the companies began manufacturing the vaccine before they knew whether it would be effective. They now expect to produce up to 50 million doses, or enough to protect 25 million people this year.

To confirm the efficacy rate, Pfizer said it would continue the trial until there are 164 COVID-19 cases among participants. Bourla told CNBC on Monday that based on rising infection rates, the trial could be completed before the end of November. The data have yet to be peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal. Pfizer said it would do so once it has results from the entire trial.

“These are interesting first signals, but again they are only communicated in press releases,” said Marylyn Addo, head of tropical medicine at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany. “Primary data are not yet available and a peer-reviewed publication is still pending. We still have to wait for the exact data before we can make a final assessment.”


The global race for a vaccine has seen wealthier countries forge multibillion-dollar supply deals with drugmakers like Pfizer, AstraZeneca Plc and Johnson & Johnson, raising questions over when middle income and poorer nations will get access to inoculations.

The U.S. quest for a vaccine has been the Trump administration’s central response to the pandemic. The United States has the world’s highest known number of COVID-19 cases and deaths with more than 10 million infections and over 237,000 fatalities.

President Donald Trump repeatedly assured the public that his administration would likely identify a successful vaccine in time for the presidential election, held last Tuesday. On Saturday, Democratic rival Joe Biden was declared the winner.

Vaccines are seen as essential tools to help end the health crisis that has shuttered businesses and left millions out of work. Millions of children whose schools were closed in March remain in remote learning programs.

Dozens of drugmakers and research groups around the globe have been racing to develop vaccines against COVID-19, which on Sunday exceeded 50 million infections since the new coronavirus first emerged late last year in China.

The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine uses messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, which relies on synthetic genes that can be generated and manufactured in weeks, and produced at scale more rapidly than conventional vaccines.

Covid-19 Vaccine Could Fundamentally Change Pandemic Direction: WHO

A COVID-19 vaccine may be rolled out by March 2021 to the most vulnerable, which along with other advances could fundamentally change the course of the pandemic, a senior World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Monday.

Bruce Aylward also told the WHO’s annual ministerial assembly that interim results announced from Pfizer Inc’s late-stage vaccine trials were “very positive”.  A Covid-19 vaccine may be rolled out by March 2021 to the most vulnerable, which along with other advances could fundamentally change the course of the pandemic, a senior World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Monday.

Bruce Aylward also told the WHO’s annual ministerial assembly that interim results announced from Pfizer Inc’s late-stage vaccine trials were “very positive”.  “There is still much work to be done, this is just interim results…but some very positive results coming today which should hold great promise hopefully for the entire world as we move forward,” Aylward told the 194-member state forum.

Pfizer said its experimental Covid-19 vaccine with partner BioNTech was more than 90% effective. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted shortly afterwards: “We welcome the encouraging vaccine news from @pfizer & @BioNTech_Group & salute all scientists & partners around the who are developing new safe, efficacious tools to beat #Covid19.’

Aylward, referring to all three pillars of the ACT (Access to Covid Tools) Accelerator launched in April, said: “In diagnostics we are in a position to massively expand testing globally, in therapeutics we have sufficient tools right now to substantially reduce the risk of dying from this disease and in the area of vaccines – with the news of today especially – we are on the verge of having the readiness in place to roll out doses for high-risk populations in the late first quarter, early 2nd quarter.”  However, he warned that an “acute funding gap” of $4.5 billion could slow access to tests, medicines and vaccines in low- and middle-income countries.

GOPIO Congratulates President-Elect Joe Biden And Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris

The Indian American community whole heartedly welcomes the Biden/Harris win at the election and the congratulates President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris.  “The Indian American community was elated when Vice President Biden selected Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate and it was a great honor and prestige for the Indian American community,” said Dr. thomas Abraham, Chairman of GOPIO.  

In spite of close Trump-Modi relation, a very high percentage of the community went with Biden-Harris ticket. In fact, in this close election, community votes have helped Biden to win the election.

“Although many Trump supporters raised doubts about support for India in a Biden Administration, I don’t expect much changes in US policy towards India since both countries have become close partners in many political and economic aspects,” said Dr. Abraham.

Currently, India is a big buyer of America’s military ware. Both countries have common interest to fight terrorism. Economically, both countries have invested in each other. Politically the most important factor is that India has bipartisan support among the US House Representatives and the Senators of both political parties.

One major outcome of the Indian American community support will be a large number of political appointments by the Biden Administration, even some cabinet level appointments.

“There are a large number of bright and highly qualified candidates from the Indian American community who could be brought in to work for the new administration since the country has many serious problems to tackle, i.e. the pandemic and the economic slowdown,” Dr. Abraham added.

GOPIO looks forward to work closely with the Biden administration GOPIO is a non-partisan, not-for-profit, secular organization with Individual Life Members and over 100 chapters in 35 countries. GOPIO’s volunteers are committed to enhancing cooperation and communication between NRIs/PIOs and the local communities, building bonds, friendships, alliances, and the camaraderie of citizens and colleagues alike.  GOPIO volunteers believe that when they help network the global Indian community, they facilitate making tomorrow a better world for the Indian Diaspora and the countries they live in.

Diwali 2020 At Times Square

New York City’s iconic Times Square transformed into a vision of South Asian culture, as thousands of revelers gathered for an early celebration of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights for the past several years now. However, this year, as many others, the COVID pandemic has restricted the celebration of the light of festival on the Iconic Times Square.

Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is the biggest and most important holiday in India. It lasts for five days, and coincides with the Hindu new year. Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs celebrate the religious occasion every autumn in countries throughout South Asia and beyond. In the United States, major Diwali festivals have lit up communities from California to Texas to North Carolina in recent years.

The massive Times Square event ― the largest Diwali celebration outside of India ― has been growing in size since its debut in 2013, attracting large crowds including many people from the city’s numerous immigrant communities. It’s the largest South Asian ethnic event in New York City, where at least 3 million residents ― more than one-third of the population ― are foreign-born, per the Department of City Planning.

The greater New York area is home to some 717,000 Indian citizens, according to the latest U.S. Census estimates. Nationwide, people of Indian origin represent about 1 percent of the population. In fact, India is currently the largest source of new immigrants to America, surpassing Mexico and China.

A virtual celebration of Diwali is planned on Nov 12 with the Diya lighting on the ground & Diya lighting with countdown on Times Square Tallest screen.

“This year, we can can’t celebrate Diwali at Times Square the way we used to celebrate. But we are making sure that the Diwali spirit and vibe will be high. We will continue our Diya Lighting with Countdown ceremony on Times Square’s Tallest Screen (Ball Drop Screen) on Nov 12th from 6:00pm to 6:30 pm,” announced Neeta Bhasin, the organizer of the event. .

After the ceremony, Diwali Message from the community/Organizations will be displayed. The celebration will broadcast live worldwide through TV and Social Media. On Nov. 13trh there will be a musical show and on the 14, the celebrations will culminate with a Light Up Times Square Concert, with internally renowned performers. For details, please visit: 


Indian- American Nitya Kodali Crowned Miss Teen Telugu Universe

American-born teenager, Nitya Kodali has been crowned the world’s first Miss Teen Telugu Universe representing the USA.   Out of 700 semi-finalists, 22 finalists were selected to compete in the grand finals of the Telugu Universe pageant. Contestants from over 40 countries including India, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand competed for the coveted title.

“To win one of the most prestigious titles in my first ever pageant is a huge honor and I am still in disbelief. The pageant has changed my life forever, and for that, I am always grateful. This victory is not just mine, but the amazing people in my life that have taught me everything I know today. This crown is dedicated to you all.” Kodali wrote on her Instagram page.

Nitya is a high school sophomore and valedictorian of her class. She is working towards a career in medicine and is the founder of the global nonprofit, Letters & Love. Nitya is also a trained Bharatanatyam dancer and on Houston’s Bollywood dance team.

The Telugu Universe pageant consisted of multiple rounds including introduction, ramp walk, talent, and question-and-answer. The global event had over 18,000 participants where Nitya was crowned by Miss Earth India, Tejaswini Manogna.

In the same category 1st runner up award was captured by Sathvika Movva and 2nd runner up award bagged by Sushmita Kolloju. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


In Diwali Message, Vatican Calls on Christians and Hindus to Rekindle Positivity and Hope During the Covid-19 Pandemic and Beyond

In Diwali Message from the Vatican calls on people of all Faiths to dispel every cloud of fear, anxiety and worry, and fill your hearts and minds with the light of friendship, generosity and solidarity!

Here is the text of the message:

Dear Hindu Friends,

The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue offers its warmest greetings and best wishes to you on the occasion of Deepavali, which you are observing this year on 14 November. Amid the difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic, may this very meaningful feast dispel every cloud of fear, anxiety and worry, and fill your hearts and minds with the light of friendship, generosity and solidarity!

 With this year’s Deepavali Message, the Pontifical Council charged with promoting interreligious dialogue and cooperation continues its cherished tradition of sending you festive greetings and a few timely reflections. This is the twentyfifth of such Messages, which seek to acknowledge, maintain and cherish the good things present in both of our religious traditions and spiritual patrimonies (cf. Nostra Aetate, 2). Albeit a small step in the direction of interreligious appreciation and cooperation, these Messages have, over the years, enhanced and promoted Hindu-Christian dialogue and harmony at various levels. We readily continue this noble tradition for the sake of forging, fostering and furthering mutual relationships between Hindus and Christians as a means of working together for our good and for the good of all humanity.

This year, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, we wish to share with you some thoughts on the need to encourage a positive spirit and hope for the future, even in the face of apparently insurmountable obstacles, socio-economic, political and spiritual challenges, and widespread anxiety, uncertainty and fear.

Our efforts to do so are surely based upon our conviction that God, who created us and sustains us, will never abandon us. An encouragement to be optimistic may well sound unrealistic to those who have lost their loved ones or livelihoods or both. Even the boldest hope and positivity can dissipate in the tragic situations caused by the present pandemic and its grave effects on daily life, the economy, healthcare, education and religious practices. Yet it is precisely trust in God’s providence that inspires us to remain optimistic and to work to rekindle hope in the midst of our societies.

 The pandemic has in fact brought a number of positive changes in our way of thinking and living, despite the unprecedented suffering it has caused worldwide and the lockdowns that have disrupted our normal life. Experiences of suffering and a sense of responsibility for one another have brought our communities together in solidarity and concern, in acts of kindness and compassion for the suffering and those in need. Such signs of solidarity have led us to appreciate more deeply the importance of coexistence, the fact that we belong to one another and that we need one another for the well-being of all and that of our common home. As Pope Francis has rightly noted, “solidarity today is the road to take towards a postpandemic world, towards the healing of our interpersonal and social ills”, and “a way of coming out of the crisis better” (General Audience, 2 September 2020).

Our respective religious traditions teach us to remain positive and hopeful even amid adversity. In cherishing those religious traditions and teachings, may we strive in the midst of this global crisis to spread what Pope Francis delights in calling “the contagion of hope” (Urbi et Orbi Message, 12 April 2020) through gestures of care, affection, kindness, gentleness and compassion which are more contagious than the coronavirus itself.

Based on those religious traditions and teachings, our shared values and our commitment to the betterment of humanity, may we, as Christians and Hindus, join all people of good will in working to build a culture of positivity and hope in the heart of our societies, not only in these difficult days but also in the future that lies before us.

Study Reveals Why People Think Pretty Food Is Healthier

In a significant study, researchers have explored whether attractive food might seem healthier to consumers. According to the study, published in the Journal of Marketing, beautiful aesthetics are closely associated with pleasure and indulgence.

“Looking at beautiful art and people activates the brain’s reward centre and observing beauty is inherently gratifying,” said study authors from the University of Southern California in the US. “This link with pleasure might make pretty food seem unhealthy, because people tend to view pleasure and usefulness as mutually exclusive,” they added. For instance, many people have the general intuition that food is either tasty or healthy, but not both.

On the other hand, a specific type of aesthetics called “classical” aesthetics is characterized by the ideal patterns found in nature. For instance, a key classical aesthetic feature is symmetry, which is also extremely common in nature.

Seeming more natural may make the food seem healthier because people tend to consider natural things (organic food or natural remedies) to be healthier than unnatural things (highly processed food.).

In a series of experiments, the researcher tested if the same food is perceived as healthier when it looks pretty by following classical aesthetics principles (i.e., symmetry, order, and systematic patterns) compared to when it does not.

For example, in one experiment, participants evaluated avocado toast. Everyone read identical ingredient and price information, but people were randomly assigned to see either a pretty avocado toast or an ugly avocado toast.

Despite identical information about the food, respondents rated the avocado toast as overall healthier and more natural if they saw the pretty version compared to the ugly version.

As suspected, the difference in naturalness judgments drove the difference in healthiness judgments. Judgments of other aspects, like freshness or size, were unaffected.

Experiments with different foods and prettiness manipulations returned the same pattern of results. In a field experiment, people were willing to pay significantly more money for a pretty bell pepper than an ugly one, and a substantial portion of this boost in reservation prices was attributable to an analogous boost in healthiness judgments. (IANS)

In 2018, Government Restrictions on Religion Reach Highest Level Globally in More Than a Decade

In 2018, the global median level of government restrictions on religion – that is, laws, policies and actions by officials that impinge on religious beliefs and practices – continued to climb, reaching an all-time high since Pew Research Center began tracking these trends in 2007.

The year-over-year increase from 2017 to 2018 was relatively modest, but it contributed to a substantial rise in government restrictions on religion over more than a decade. In 2007, the first year of the study, the global median score on the Government Restrictions Index (a 10-point scale based on 20 indicators) was 1.8. After some fluctuation in the early years, the median score has risen steadily since 2011 and now stands at 2.9 for 2018, the most recent full year for which data is available.

The increase in government restrictions reflects a wide variety of events around the world, including a rise from 2017 to 2018 in the number of governments using force – such as detentions and physical abuse – to coerce religious groups.

The total number of countries with “high” or “very high” levels of government restrictions has been mounting as well. Most recently, that number climbed from 52 countries (26% of the 198 countries and territories included in the study) in 2017 to 56 countries (28%) in 2018. The latest figures are close to the 2012 peak in the top two tiers of the Government Restrictions Index.

As of 2018, most of the 56 countries with high or very high levels of government restrictions on religion are in the Asia-Pacific region (25 countries, or half of all countries in that region) or the Middle East-North Africa region (18 countries, or 90% of all countries in the region).

Rising government restrictions in the Asia-Pacific region

Out of the five regions examined in the study, the Middle East and North Africa continued to have the highest median level of government restrictions in 2018 (6.2 out of 10). However, Asia and the Pacific had the largest increase in its median government restrictions score, rising from 3.8 in 2017 to 4.4 in 2018, partly because a greater number of governments in the region used force against religious groups, including property damage, detention, displacement, abuse and killings.

In total, 31 out of 50 countries (62%) in Asia and the Pacific experienced government use of force related to religion, up from 26 countries (52%) in 2017. The increase was concentrated in the category of “low levels” of government use of force (between one and nine incidents during the year). In 2018, 10 Asia-Pacific countries fell into this category, up from five the previous year..

In Armenia, for example, a prominent member of the Baha’i faith was detained on religious grounds, according to members of the community.1 And in the Philippines, three United Methodist Church missionaries were forced to leave the country or faced issues with visa renewals after they were involved in investigating human rights violations on a fact-finding mission.

 But the region also saw several instances of widespread use of government force against religious groups. In Burma (Myanmar), large-scale displacement of religious minorities continued. During the course of the year, more than 14,500 Rohingya Muslims were reported by Human Rights Watch to have fled to neighboring Bangladesh to escape abuses, and at least 4,500 Rohingya were stuck in a border area known as “no-man’s land,” where they were harassed by Burmese officials trying to get them to cross to Bangladesh.3 In addition, fighting between the Burmese military and armed ethnic organizations in the states of Kachin and Shan led to the displacement of other religious minorities, mostly Christians.

Meanwhile, in Uzbekistan, it is estimated that at least 1,500 Muslim religious prisoners remained in prison on charges of religious extremism or membership in banned groups. Some countries in the Asia-Pacific region saw all-time highs in their overall government restrictions scores. This includes China, which continued to have the highest score on the Government Restrictions Index (GRI) out of all 198 countries and territories in the study. China has been near the top of the list of most restrictive governments in each year since the inception of the study, and in 2018 it reached a new peak in its score (9.3 out of 10).

The Chinese government restricts religion in a variety of ways, including banning entire religious groups (such as the Falun Gong movement and several Christian groups), prohibiting certain religious practices, raiding places of worship and detaining and torturing individuals.6 In 2018, the government continued a detention campaign against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other Muslims in Xinjiang province, holding at least 800,000 (and possibly up to 2 million) in detention facilities “designed to erase religious and ethnic identities,” according to the U.S. State Department.

Tajikistan also stands out with a GRI score of 7.9, an all-time high for that country. In 2018, the Tajik government amended its religion law, increasing control over religious education domestically and over those who travel abroad for religious education. The amendment also requires religious groups to report their activities to authorities and requires state approval for appointing imams. Throughout the year, the Tajik government continued to deny minority religious groups, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, official recognition. In January, Jehovah’s Witnesses reported that more than a dozen members were interrogated by police and pressured to renounce their faith.

 While these are examples of countries with “very high” government restrictions on religion in Asia and the Pacific, there also are several notable countries in the “high” category that experienced an increase in their scores. India, for example, reached a new peak in its GRI score in 2018, scoring 5.9 out of 10 on the index, while Thailand also experienced an all-time high (5.4).

In India, anti-conversion laws affected minority religious groups. For example, in the state of Uttar Pradesh in September, police charged 271 Christians with attempting to convert people by drugging them and “spreading lies about Hinduism.” Furthermore, throughout the year, politicians made comments targeting religious minorities. In December, the Shiv Sena Party, which holds seats in parliament, published an editorial calling for measures such as mandatory family planning for Muslims to limit their population growth. And law enforcement officials were involved in cases against religious minorities: In Jammu and Kashmir, four police personnel, among others, were arrested in connection with the kidnapping, rape and killing of an 8-year-old girl from a nomadic Muslim family, reportedly to push her community out of the area.

In Thailand, as part of broader immigration raids in 2018, the government arrested hundreds of immigrants who allegedly did not have legal status, including religious minorities from other countries who were seeking asylum or refugee status. Among the detainees were Christians and Ahmadi Muslims from Pakistan as well as Christian Montagnards from Vietnam. During the year, Thai authorities also detained six leading Buddhist monks, a move that the government said was an effort to curb corruption but that some observers called a politically motivated attempt to assert control over temples. Government restrictions on religion in other regions

While Asia and the Pacific had the largest increases in their Government Restrictions Index scores, the Middle East and North Africa still had the highest median level of government restrictions, with a score of 6.2 on the GRI – up from 6.0 in 2017, more than double the global median (2.9), and at its highest point since the aftermath of the Arab Spring in 2012.

As in Asia, the rise in GRI scores in the Middle East and North Africa was partly due to more governments using force against religious groups. All but one country in the region had reports of government use of force related to religion in 2018, although many were at the lowest level (between one and nine incidents). In Jordan, for example, a media personality and an editor employed at his website were detained and charged with “sectarian incitement and causing religious strife” for posting on Facebook a cartoon of a Turkish chef sprinkling salt at Jesus’ Last Supper.

But government force against religious groups was much more widespread in some countries in the region. In Saudi Arabia, for instance, more than 300 Shiite Muslims remained in prison in the country’s Eastern Province, where the government has arrested more than 1,000 Shiites since 2011 in connection with protests for greater rights.

Aside from Asia-Pacific and the Middle East-North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa was the only other region to experience an increase in its median level of government restrictions in 2018 (from 2.6 to 2.7), reaching a new high following a steady rise in recent years. While government use of force against religious groups decreased in the region, both harassment of religious groups and physical violence against minority groups went up.

More than eight-in-ten countries in the sub-Saharan region (40 out of 48) experienced some form of government harassment of religious groups, and 14 countries (29%) had reports of governments using physical coercion against religious minorities. In Mozambique, for example, the government arbitrarily detained men, women and children who appeared to be Muslim in response to violent attacks on civilians and security forces by an insurgent group. According to media and local organizations, the government response to the attacks was “heavy-handed.”13

Europe experienced a small decline in its median level of government restrictions, falling from 2.9 in 2017 to 2.8 in 2018, although government use of force increased slightly (see Chapter 3 for details). The median level of government restrictions in the Americas, meanwhile, remained stable between 2017 and 2018, as the region continued to experience the lowest levels of government restrictions compared with all other regions. Social hostilities involving religion declined slightly in 2018.

This is the 11th annual report in this continuing study, which looks not only at government restrictions on religion but also at social hostilities involving religion – that is, acts of religion-related hostility by private individuals, organizations or groups in society.

The new analysis finds that globally, social hostilities declined slightly in 2018 after hitting an all-time high the prior year. The median score on the Social Hostilities Index (a 10-point scale based on 13 measures of social hostilities involving religion) fell from 2.1 in 2017 to 2.0 in 2018. This small decline was partly due to fewer reports of incidents in which some religious groups (usually of a majority faith in a particular country) attempted to prevent other religious groups (usually of minority faiths) from operating. There also were fewer reports of individuals being assaulted or displaced from their homes for religious expression that goes against the majority faith in a country.

The number of countries with “high” or “very high” levels of social hostilities involving religion also declined slightly from 56 (28% of all 198 countries and territories in the study) to 53 (27%). This includes 16 European countries (36% of all countries in Europe), 14 in the Asia-Pacific region (28% of all Asia-Pacific countries) and 11 in the Middle East and North Africa (55% of MENA countries).

Taken together, in 2018, 40% of the world’s countries (80 countries overall) had “high” or “very high” levels of overall restrictions on religion — reflecting either government actions or hostile acts by private individuals, organizations or social groups – down slightly from 42% (83 countries) in 2017. This remains close to the 11-year peak that was reached in 2012, when 43% (85 countries) had high or very high levels of overall restrictions. By this combined measure, as of 2018, all 20 countries in the Middle East-North Africa region have high overall restrictions on religion, as do more than half of Asia-Pacific countries (27 countries, or 54% of the region) and more than a third of countries in Europe (17 countries, 38%).

In this report, for the first time, Pew Research Center combined its data on government restrictions and social hostilities involving religion with a classification of regime types, based on the Democracy Index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit.14 Researchers did this to discern whether there is a link between different models of government and levels of restrictions on religion – in other words, whether restrictions on religion tend to be more or less common in countries with full or partial democracies than in those with authoritarian regimes.

The analysis finds a strong association between authoritarianism and government restrictions on religion. While there are many exceptions to this pattern, authoritarian regimes are much more common among the countries with very high government restrictions on religion – roughly two-thirds of these countries (65%) are classified as authoritarian. Among countries with low government restrictions on religion, meanwhile, just 7% are authoritarian.

There is less of a clear pattern when it comes to social hostilities involving religion. There are no countries classified by the Economist Intelligence Unit as full democracies that have very high levels of social hostilities involving religion (just as there are no full democracies with very high levels of government restrictions involving religion). At the same time, there are many authoritarian countries with low levels of social hostilities involving religion, suggesting that in some cases, a government may restrict religion through laws and actions by state authorities while limiting religious hostilities among its citizens.

When looking at countries with very high government restrictions on religion, Pew Research Center found that of the 26 countries in this category whose regimes were scored by the EIU on its Democracy Index in 2018, 17 (65%) were classified as authoritarian, three were hybrid regimes (12%) and three were flawed democracies (12%). There were no countries with very high government restrictions that were full democracies.16 The three countries with very high government restrictions that were classified as flawed democracies – Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore – all are regionally clustered in Southeast Asia.

Of the 30 countries with high government restrictions on religion, there were 12 authoritarian states (40%), 11 hybrid regimes (37%) and six flawed democracies (20%), according to the EIU Democracy Index. One full democracy, Denmark, also was in this category. In 2018, Denmark fell into the high government restrictions category for the first time, with its score driven partly by a ban on face coverings, which included Islamic burqas and niqabs, that went into effect that year.

At the other end of the spectrum, among the 74 countries with low government restrictions, just five were classified as authoritarian (7%), 13 were hybrid regimes (18%), 27 were flawed democracies (36%) and seven were full democracies (9%). The countries with low government restrictions on religion that were also classified as authoritarian by the Democracy Index are all in sub-Saharan Africa: Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Republic of the Congo, Swaziland and Togo. There was no Democracy Index classification of regime type for 22 countries with low government restrictions.


In terms of social hostilities involving religion, the picture is more mixed – which makes sense given that social hostilities look at actions by private individuals or social groups and do not directly originate from government actions.

Among the 10 countries with very high levels of social hostilities, there were four authoritarian states, three hybrid regimes and three flawed democracies – India, Israel and Sri Lanka. Again, like countries with very high government restrictions, there were no full democracies with very high levels of social hostilities.

Among the 43 countries with high levels of social hostilities, nine were classified as authoritarian (21%), 14 were hybrid regimes (33%), 13 were flawed democracies (30%) and five were full democracies (12%).

The five countries categorized as full democracies with high levels of social hostilities are all in Europe – Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom – and all had reports of anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic incidents. In Switzerland, for instance, Muslim groups reported growing anti-Muslim sentiments due to negative coverage by the media and hostile discourse on Islam by right-leaning political parties. During the year, for instance, a journalist who had initiated a local ban on face coverings handed out a “Swiss Stop Islam Award” of about $2,000 USD to three recipients.

Among the 81 countries with low levels of social hostilities in 2018, there were 24 with no data on regime types (mostly small island nations the Democracy Index does not cover). Those with data are most commonly classified as flawed democracies (26 countries, or 32% of the 81 countries with low social hostilities).

But, strikingly, 17 countries (21%) with low social hostilities involving religion were classified as authoritarian – including countries like Eritrea and Kazakhstan, which have very high government restrictions on religion. In addition, several other authoritarian states with very high government restrictions on religion – such as China, Iran and Uzbekistan – have only moderate levels of social hostilities involving religion. In these cases, high levels of government control over religion may lead to fewer hostilities by nongovernment actors.

AAPI Congratulates President-Elect Biden & Vice President-Elect Harris

Chicago, Il: November 8th, 2020) “We want to express our sincere congratulations and best wishes to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their historic winning of the 2020 Presidential elections,” Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalgadda, President of AAPI said here today. Describing these as “critical times” for the nation, Dr. Jonnalagadda said, “We the members of the medical fraternity are encouraged by President –Elect Biden’s plans to create a Federal COVID Task Force and his pledge to set up a Pandemic Testing Board to “produce and distribute tens of millions of tests.”
In her congratulatory note, Dr. Sajani Shah, Chair of AAPI BOT, while wishing the new Administration the very best as he prepares to assume office on January 20th, 2021, praised Biden for pledging “to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify; who doesn’t see red states and blue states, only sees the United States.”
Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President-Elect of AAPI, in a message lauded Biden and Harris, who has “made history by being elected to be the first ever woman to become the Vice President of the United States.” Referring to her Indian origins, Dr. Gotimukula described the election of Kamala Harris as “Inspiring and is of immense pride for all Indian-Americans.”
While expressing appreciation to Biden for wanting to set up a nationwide contact-tracing program and call on governors to impose mask-wearing mandates, which is an effective way of containing the spread of the virus, Dr. Ravi Kolli, Vice President of AAPI, said, “It’s heartening that our own esteemed AAPI member, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the former Surgeon General of the US is being considered to be the co-chair of the Presidential Panel on COVID.”
The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 continues to climb and is likely to worsen as colder temperatures drive Americans indoors and case counts go up. ““We wish the new administration under Biden Presidency success in all of its endeavors to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and get our economy back on track. We at AAPI will continue to work hard to provide the best of care to all those who need,” said, Dr. Amit Chakrabarty, Secretary of AAPI said.
There are about 80,000 practicing Indian American physicians who are at the forefront of fighting COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. In addition, there are around 40,000 medical students, residents, and fellows of Indian origin in this country who are supporting many of the hospitals affected by the pandemic. “Physicians of Indian Origin have been in the front lines during the pandemic risking their lives everyday, and we look forward to continue to serve nation under the new Presidency led by Biden,” said Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Treasurer of AAPI.
Describing the numerous efforts by AAPI, Dr. Jonnalagadda said, “AAPI as an organization has helped and is continuing to help the communities during COVID-19 pandemic. AAPI has written letters to the current president’s office for universal masking, social distancing and to lockdown the country or to have ‘shelter in place’ during the initial phase of the pandemic to prevent spread of the disease. AAPI has raised funds to buy personal protective equipment and donated to several AAPI chapters across the country. The organization conducted close to 100 webinars to educate doctors and community members about CVOID-19.”
While offering fullest cooperation to the Biden administration, Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda said,  “The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (APPI) the largest ethnic medical organization in the country has taken several proactive steps in educating their members and the general public about the disease, the preventive steps that needs to be taken at this time and most importantly, they are using all their contacts and resources at the hospital administrative and government level to facilitate treatment protocols to be in place at the various hospitals around the country.” For more information on AAPI, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

Poetic Justice in Trump’s Defeat

Donald Trump, was defeated by Joe Biden & Kamala Harris team in the most divisive, corrosive and disgraceful electioneering in modern U.S. history. It was a mockery of democratic process. For 4 years, the soul of this nation – whatever was good about its people, about this country, about its prestige in the world – was hijacked by the governance of an erratic, irrational egotist. Biden got unprecedented number of popular votes in the history of the U.S., not because he was so popular but because people wanted to vote against Trump, no matter what. In trump’s defeat, I see a ‘poetic justice’ at multiple levels. Foremost among them, the revenge that ‘covid-19’ ultimately took on him for down-playing its existence. He had no strategic plan to contain the ‘virus’ and refused to take any responsibility for its spread up either. Before he knew it, U.S. became the global capital of ‘Corona’ and a single most important issue of Yr.2020 campaign. It was a rallying nationwide cause to defeat Trump.

The deep-rooted narcissistic trait of Trump, not only was responsible in insulting, bullying numerous high-ranking government officials, but also, made them rethink their loyalty to their ‘commander-in-chief’. After he got elected, he declared that knew lot more than the Generals at his command, and then went on to insult America’s war-hero, Senator John McCann and thereafter Military veterans, as a lot. In 2016, Trump’s public call on TV – ‘Russia if you are listening’ – requesting to divulge political dirt on his opponent then, Hillary Clinton, was short of treason and did not go well with proud Americans. The result – the majority turned against him and took their revenge publicly as well as privately while voting.  

In U.S. electioneering, one of the popular issues that is often talked about is ‘family-values. In Trump, there was not a shred of redeeming noble values. He was a proven pervert, had taken advantage of countless women in his contact and ruined thousands of businesses by downright cheating and destroying countless lives, in process. Atlantic City was just one example of this. Moreover, he had been a relentless pathological liar basking in a world of his own which had no relation to the existential reality. He was everything that the Americans did not want in their leader and turned away from him. Nevertheless, he was delusional in thinking that the world shared his ‘alternative truth’ that he floated in everything, every so often. This self-deception proved to be fatal in winning the second term for the ‘White House’

When the so-called ‘Blacks’ were being shot on the streets on frivolous charges by the police, week after week, Trump took pride in their heavy handedness as the part of his ‘law and order’ policy. He misinterpreted Black American’s violence as nothing more than an excuse for criminal activities rather than an expression of pent up anger against the institutional discrimination and the unfair treatment meted out to them. He underestimated the power of ‘Black Lives Matter ‘reverberating in the country – especially among the Black, Latino community. He called ‘Latinos-Mexicans’ rapists, criminals, thieves etc. He enticed, white-supremacist and cooky conspiracy-theorists to be belligerent in asserting themselves. He completely failed in articulating Black American’s true grievances on any level. Needless to say, Blacks and Latinos went in droves to vote against him. Whatever he was dismissive about as ‘nonconsequential’ to get re-elected came hauntingly back to deny him the second term he was so obsessed with.

Trump’s behavioral pattern throughout his life confirms that he had treated women only in terms of ‘flesh’, as a commodity for personal consumption. It did not come as a surprise to anyone when he wanted to appoint a Supreme Court Judges who would vote against ‘Roe Vs Wade’ landmark law that empowered them. He also wanted to repeal ‘Obamacare’ which was a lifesaver to 20 Million economically disadvantaged people. This big chunk of ballot-section, voted for Biden who promised to take care of them. Moreover, in Biden’s corner, there was a woman, that too a Black one – of Asian American descent – to attract women, Blacks, Latinos and Asians. Whatever he stood against, at long last all came together to ‘dug him in’. A splendid ‘poetic justice’.  (By Prakash Waghmare)  

ASEI to Organize Get 2020 Annual Convention On Emerging Technologies

Canton, Michigan – American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEI) is hosting the 33rd Annual National Convention focusing on Global Engineering & Technologies (GET-2020). This virtual convention will be held on December 5th and 6th, 2020. The objective of this event is to provide a forum to promote and share advancements related to latest cutting-edge innovations and technologies across various engineering disciplines. The convention is expected to be virtually attended by over 1000 professionals including scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and corporate leaders across the USA. This two-day event will feature keynotes and multiple interactive sessions with prominent business and technology leaders, scientists, media personalities, educators, policy makers, and investment bankers. This event will be covered by the local and national media including leading social media outlets.

 The convention will have multiple interactive sessions led by deep subject matter experts providing information and insight on many topics related to the convention theme. Following speakers are confirmed for this virtual convention:

 Naveen Jain, CEO –  Viome, Founder/ Chairman, Moon Express

Anand Oswal, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Palo Alto Networks

Prof. Solomon Darwin – Director, UC Berkeley-Haas Center for Corporate Innovation, Executive Director, Center for Growth Markets

Dr Satyam Priyadarshy – Managing Director, India Center+Technology Fellow+Chief Data Scientist-Halliburton

Dilip Saraf – Author, Speaker, Career & Life Coach

Surbhi Kaul – GM and Head of Product, Cloud Networking and Automation. Juniper Networks, Former Product Lead at YouTube, Google Home & Assistant

Dr Sreeja Nag – Space & Robotics Scientist, NASA & Nuro

Matthew Rosenquist – Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), Eclipz

Manoj Prasad, Vice President and Global CTO, Thermo Fisher Scientific

Prakash Kota – Chief Information Officer, Autodesk

Rama Akkiraju – IBM Fellow & Master Inventor, IBM

Deval Desai – VP and Country Head, India – Executive Director, Business Development, Magna International

Jeffrey Hannah – Director, North America at SBD Automotive

Akshay Desai – Associate Partner | McKinsey & Company, Inc.

Dr Robert Sutor – Vice President Quantum Computing, Blockchain & AI, IBM Research

 There will be a Youth Technology Exposition (YTE) for young scientists and students from High School to Undergrad engineering during this virtual ASEI National Convention. The objective of the YTE is to provide a forum for young engineers, students and budding scientists to showcase their projects in science, engineering and technology topics that can have an impact on our world. Each participant will get a chance to speak while showing their work for a total of 4 minutes. The top 5 entries will be shortlisted as finalists for a live virtual presentation at ASEI National Convention on December 5th. More details of the convention are provided at www.aseiusa.org.

 The convention will end with a finale session on December 6th where those who have made outstanding achievements in engineering and technology and those who have contributed to society at large and to ASEI organization will be recognized. The annual ASEI awards will be presented to several individuals for following categories:

ASEI Lifetime Achievement (Open to everyone)

ASEI Entrepreneur of the Year (Open to everyone)

ASEI Engineers/Scientists of Year (Open to individuals in Chemical, Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Electronics and Computer, Civil, Architect, Industrial, Minerals/Materials, Biomedical, Telecommunication and Information Technology)

ASEI Service Excellence (Open to an ASEI member who has done service to community

at large or served as an officer/volunteer for more than 10 years)

ASEI Founder’s Award sponsored by ASEI Founder Hari Bindal (Open to those who

have provided dedicated services to ASEI in the immediate past year). Award includes a

plaque and $1,000 to the charity of the award recipient’s choice.

Nominations are invited for these awards, visit http://www.aseiusa.org/NC/Awards.

About ASEI

The American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEI) is a not-for-profit organization that provides a platform for networking, career advancement, community service, mentoring and technology exchange for professionals, students and businesses in the United States and abroad. Members are guided by several objectives, including the creation of an open, inclusive, and transparent organization; providing positive role models, awarding scholarships, and remaining socially responsible. ASEI was founded in 1983 in Detroit, Michigan by a handful of visionaries. Today, the organization also has chapters in Michigan, Southern California, Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Washington, DC. For more information, visit: https://aseiusa.org/

Apple launches MacBook Air with first Apple-designed microprocessors

Apple Inc has introduced a MacBook Air notebook computer with the first Apple-designed microprocessor, called the M1, a move that will tie its Macs and iPhones closer together technologically.

The new chip marks a shift away from Intel Corp <INTC.O> technology that has driven the electronic brains of Mac computers for nearly 15 years.

It is a boon for Apple computers, which are overshadowed by the company’s iPhone but still rack up tens of billions of dollars in sales per year. Apple hopes developers now will create families of apps that work on both computers and phones.


Apple executives said the M1 was intended to be efficient as well as fast, to improve battery life, and that Apple’s newest version of its operating system was tuned to the processor.

Apple software chief Craig Federighi said Adobe Inc would bring its Photoshop software to the new M1-based Macs early next year.

In June, Apple said it would begin outfitting Macs with its own chips, building on its decade-long history of designing processors for its iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches.

Apple’s phone chips draw on computing architecture technology from Arm Ltd and manufactured by outside partners such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp.

Power efficiency – that is, getting the most computing done per watt of energy consumed – is one of Apple’s key aims.

Microsoft Corp <MSFT.O> and Qualcomm Corp <QCOM.O> have been working together for four years to bring Arm-based Windows laptops to market, with major manufacturers such as Lenovo Group Ltd <0992.HK>, Asustek Computer <2357.TW> and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd <005930.KS> offering machines.

But for both Microsoft and Apple, the true test will be software developers. Apple is hoping that the massive group of iPhone developers will embrace the new Macs, which will share a common 64-bit Arm computing architecture with the iPhone and be able to use similar apps.

In the meantime, Apple has seen a boom in Mac sales due to the coronavirus pandemic, notching record fiscal fourth quarter Mac sales of $9 billion (£7 billion) earlier this month – all of them Intel-based. In June, Chief Executive Tim Cook said Apple will continue to support those devices for “years to come” but did not specify an end-of-life date.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Franicsco and Peter Henderson in Oakland; Editing by Aurora Ellis and Rosalba O’Brien)

A Little Bit Pregnant!!

An American Citizen asks “personal character or the national policy of the president that matters most?”  May be both are important, when you think about American President. There is no politics involved, only intriguing concerns disturb the fragile minds of common man elsewhere. While the presidential election votes were being counted, for long a strong  group alleges that there is widespread fake votes dumped. It might have happened or not, nowadays even God does not know.

In this country, where we boast that we have zero tolerance for most things and we are perfect to land the missile exactly on the Captain’s head on a moving submarine, how come we are unable to declare our voting system fool-proof?

Even on most of the TV channel discussions, we heard a consoling remark that President Trump is lost, because of his character and language. May be true. Trump is not an eloquent orator, nor he is a seasoned politician. Americans knew it four years back; and chose him as president of the nation. We know his achievements out balance his failures. That is why he got only 46.1% of popular votes winning over Hillary Clinton, whereas he could gather almost 47.5% during his so called “defeat” in 2020.

An average American can only succumb to his wild thoughts that Trump’s leadership during the last four years were not a total collapse, but overall a peaceful, warfree, safe term for the country. (Except for the Covid pandemic and his tough attitudes with some dubious countries and global organizations).

Sincere to the history of America, we had good presidents comparatively. I have heard much about John F Kennedy and Bill Clinton, who were much adored for their “sense, sensibility and sensitivity”. Exceptionally they were even sensuously emancipated by womenfolk for they were handsomevor glamourous. During voting period, that too matters, because there was abundant hatred towards Trump by our womenfolk. There is absolutely no discrimination gender wise when hate grows faster than cancer, among voters; Trump proved that. But the magnifying glass glows the stains on those faces of those well accepted presidents, even now. Can we tell our children that any of these Presidents as role models?. The good old George Washington or Abraham Lincoln were exceptional, technology and social media were then nil to expose them otherwise.

Coming back to the track of the topic, character of the President of a nation is of utmost importance. Deligently that itself won’t lead the nation to be safer or prosperous. Proper policies to simplify the economic burden of the citizen, and securely pushing the nation healthier, stronger and economically prosperous can only be achieved with smart political polices. Economists approve the latter part of President. trump’s rating good enough; and they have no interest of analyzing the personal, racist, a misogynist, and timid habits of the Presidents.

“We call on all relevant authorities to ensure tabulation of votes and resolution of complaints is undertaken in a transparent and credible manner,” USState Secretary Mike Pompeo said. Still, his suggestion the election’s outcome was still unclear came as  many key leaders around the world are already congratulating the President-elect Joe Biden on his projected victory.

We remember that during  2000 we took about 37 days to ensure the counting of votes. We have gone far ahead during the last 20 years. We need to count all legal votes, and abandon all suspiciously illegal votes. That ensuring that acceptance of legitimate election results are essential for any fledgling democracy.

Off late, we hear that Georgia State is venturing for a recount of the 2020 votes. That escalated the suspicion that something is slushy there with the voting. If we are good enough to reveal some intentional malpractices in that state, it is evident that the system is malignantor corrupted.

If the investigation into election fraud finds NO evidence of wrong doing; then so-be-it, Biden wins. But voters need to know that it was a fair and honest election and their vote counted. All illegal votes need to be removed from the totals. If observation of vote counting was prohibited, then there needs to be a recount with total transparency, no excuses. And Let none declare  “there was very little fraud so it won’t make a difference”. That is like being “a little bit pregnant”. We have to check everything even if it takes months. We need to be faithful to the voters and model to other nations. We are either pregnant, or not ; there is no situation called – ” a little bit pregnant”.

(By Dr. Mathew Joys, Las Vegas)

When Power Is Transferred In The United States, Advantages And Disadvantages To Indians

President Trump, who came to power with a big bang, is bidding farewell to the White House, turning to the culmination of even more horrific controversies. One week of global attention was the first week of November, after 9/11, when Trump’s defeat was widely viewed. The success and achievement of history was the glorious victory of Kamala Harris, whom we are proud to be of Indian descent. It is said that in the US presidential election, the Vice Presidential candidate is generally ignored. But this is the first time in American history that a woman has become vice president. Despite all the controversy, this is a record success and achievement, and Indians are thrilled to have an Indian descent to prove that women in America are not inferior to men in any way. The United States was not mature enough to induct a woman president of the United States, that is what Hillary Clinton called out to the world when she lost to Trump; even if  if it landed a woman on the moon on a rocket. Kamala Harris’ success is an inspiration to future generations, proving that immigrants in particular can reach any level in the United States, and to motivate the children of Indians to think and get into politics. The success of Kamala Harris is exciting. (Racism, racism, sectarianism and gender should not be mentioned anymore!). I agree with my friend’s neutral opinion that “Trump was a president who always wanted America to be number one in the world, who was a non-professional politician, a non-intellectual, a conservative.” As for the United States, it was during the Trump administration that the Islamic State, which has been at the forefront of the world by carrying out terrorist attacks around the world, has dismantled the financial resources of Al Qaeda extremist groups. It is also noteworthy that in the last four years, the United States has not invaded or waged a war. He also withdrew troops from Iraq and Afghanistan as he had promised (there is now only a small group in those countries to train indigenous troops). India cannot forget Trump’s support. Because Prime Minister Modi and President Trump were friends. The stories were never disappointing for India. Even there  was a Keralite man at the helm of Trump’s election campaign (not to mention he rowed back if we got nothing to blame). For the past years, President Trump has been a powerful ruler who has knocked down the global threat posed by “growing Chinese imperialism.”He also dared to engage in a trade war with China and send a strong message to Chinese imperialist ambitions that threaten border countries, including India, by deploying naval forces, including in the China Sea. It should be added that former US presidents, including Richard Nixon, sent the Seventh Fleet here before to intimidate India. Throughout history, the foreign policy adopted by the United States has been in favor of China and Pakistan.It was only during Trump’s presidency that the United States took a “U-turn” and took a completely pro-India stance. It is the US support that has given India the energy to retaliate against Chinese imperialism who crossed the Indian border and attacked Indian troops on the same coin. In the recent past, he has signed a number of military and non – military agreements with India, not only ignoring Pakistan, but also suspending US financial aid to Pakistan, citing its pro – terrorist stance. ” The media and hostile nations, which never acknowledge his atrocities and patriotism, continue to accuse him of being a clown. As my friend pointed out, whatever shortcomings he had, some Indian progressives may admit, it may be due to ignorance, or the extreme of unbridled greed, even enjoying all the benefits in America. An excerpt from the Chanakya Sutra reads: “Whether the idol is of stone, metal or wood; the belief that God is present in it is important. The intensity of faith is the measure of blessing.” Likewise, whether the President of the United States is a Republican or a Democrat, that position has its own dignity and superiority over other nations, and the standard of governance should be the measuring yard  Let time pass. As President-elect Joe Biden inspired the American people in his first speech, he stated, “Hereafter, No more Red State, no Blue State; only United States.”(By Dr. Matthew Joys, Las Vegas)

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Time to Heal, A Time to Build

Our nation is more divided than it has to be. It is both possible and urgent to reduce polarization, division, and the tensions they create. Healing these divides is not a utopian aspiration. Nor does this hope entail denying that citizens in a democratic republic will always have disagreements.

They will treasure their freedom to argue about them, to persuade and convert each other—and ultimately to win the debate at election time and with the public. A free society cannot escape, and shouldn’t want to evade, the legitimate clash of interests. Although we sometimes think so, anger in politics is not unique to our moment, or to our country. And anger over injustice can be a productive emotion when it is linked to considered action. Some of the struggles of our time are inevitable and necessary, none more so than a reckoning with a four-century history of racial injustice.

One can believe all these things and still recognize that misunderstanding and mistrust have reached toxic levels in the United States. Large groups of Americans currently fear that the triumph of their opponents will render the country unrecognizable and inhospitable to their deepest beliefs. Many have said we are in the midst of a cold civil war, which implies the possibility of violence. Religion defines only one dimension of our coming apart, but it is the source of some of our deepest divisions. Faith defines the ultimate concerns of many of our citizens even as others, who do not count themselves as religious believers, fear that their rights will be overlooked or violated by the pious and the devout. And of course, there are sharp divides among those who belong to the same religious traditions and read the same scriptures.

Consider how these issues often present themselves: One side fears that marriage equality and Roe v. Wade will be reversed and that Americans will be denied basic health care, commercial goods and services, and government-funded benefits based on an individual’s gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The other side fears their government will brand them as bigots for their religious opposition to marriage equality, close their colleges and universities, press them to engage in activities that violate their consciences, and strip their institutions’ tax-exempt statuses because of their beliefs.

Religion has become more polarizing for another reason: As religious conservatism has become an important force inside the Republican Party, the proportion of Americans who do not identify with any religious tradition has skyrocketed, especially among the young, and these nonbelievers are an important part of the Democrats’ constituency. Americans’ religious commitments have often had an impact on their political views over the course of our history, but religious and partisan loyalties now reinforce each other more than ever.

“When the next administration takes office, it will confront a pandemic, the scourge of systemic racism, a deep economic recession, and a dangerously warming planet. Government must act boldly in all these spheres, yet government will not succeed alone.”

A president cannot instantly alter these underlying forces, but he (and, some day, she) can acknowledge that the weaponization of such divisions for political purposes is dangerous to the nation’s long-term stability; give fellow citizens across religious traditions and religious divides evidence that their views and concerns are being taken into account, even when their policy preferences are not enacted into law; and take seriously the powerful contributions that religious groups make to problem solving and community-building as part of the United States’ vibrant civil society—while also honoring work done in this sphere by secular and resolutely nonreligious institutions working on behalf of charity and justice.

The task begins with respecting the dignity of all citizens and being candid about how deeply divided we are. As Pete Wehner, a top official in George W. Bush’s administration put it: “Giving voice to what each side fears can help us make progress. An administration should never underestimate the importance of people feeling like they are heard.”

Our leaders should also never underestimate the power of a call to service as they confront a pandemic, the scourge of systemic racism, a deep economic recession, and a dangerously warming planet. Government must act boldly in all these spheres, yet government will not succeed alone. At the outset, the president should recognize the work of community-serving leaders and organizations, both religious and nonreligious—and seek their help to move forward. “Our nation is hurting and dangerously divided,” said the Rev. Brian McLaren, channeling what a president might say. “We ask you to represent not only your own interests but also to help us seek the common good together.”

Religious institutions and congregations, with their deep roots in communities across our nation, have a special opportunity and responsibility to help address the profound racial disparities revealed by the pandemic. These include, as the Kaiser Family Foundation has documented, the “disproportionate burden of COVID-19 cases and deaths” on communities of color. Joshua DuBois, the director of the Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Office in President Obama’s first term, sees the task of addressing these disparities as a “focusing lens” for partnerships between government and civil society. An effort to remedy the nation’s racial injustices may provide a path for healing some of our divisions around religion even as the quest for racial justice might also bring home the ways in which religious bodies themselves have been complicit in racism and discrimination.

We offer this report to encourage the next administration to understand how important government’s relationship to both religion and civil society will be in bringing our nation together. It must staff itself properly to deal with these questions and reflect in its actions the genuine respect for the careful balances that the First Amendment requires. Issues related to faith and faith-based institutions will only occasionally be top-of-mind for those organizing a government, given the range of challenges the country faces. But issues related to religion are implicated in a wide range of policy issues, both domestic and foreign, and they need to be surfaced and addressed. Mishandling church-state issues (often because they have been overlooked) can be terribly damaging, both to religious freedom and to a president’s other projects. You might say that even when public officials are not particularly interested in religion, religion will find a way to be interested in them.

“These issues may seem tertiary, until they aren’t,” said Denis McDonough, who served as President Obama’s chief of staff. Yet matters related to the First Amendment’s religion clauses are not always treated with the consideration they require. From the start, the next administration must have a considered and detailed plan for meeting the challenges of issues implicating the relationship between church and state. We offer this report to suggest ways in which an administration might deal with these issues—and avoid unforced errors. And we hope it might contribute to a new public discussion of these questions that is less divisive and more inclusive.

We should be candid about our own perspective. One of us served as the director of the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships in President Obama’s second term and is a Baptist committed to religious freedom and church-state separation. The other is a columnist, an academic, and a Catholic who writes from a broadly liberal or social democratic perspective. Both of us identify with the social justice and civil rights orientations within our religious traditions, and we embrace America’s commitment to pluralism and openness.

Yet while we take our political and religious commitments seriously, we have both tried in our work in this area over the last two decades—both together and separately—to take seriously the views of the many people of good faith working in this sphere whose perspectives differ from ours. We have long believed that it is possible to find wider agreement on the proper relationship between church and state, and government and faith-based organizations—and to get good public work done in the process. We have shared the hope that although differences on church-state matters will inevitably persist (our nation, after all, has been arguing about some of these questions since the beginning of the republic), those differences can be narrowed, principled compromises can be forged, and the work of lifting up the least among us can be carried out and celebrated across our lines of division. That hope lies behind what we have tried to do here.

(By: E.J. Dionne, Jr. and Melissa Rogers at the Brookings Institute: The above is the introduction to “A Time to Heal, A Time to Build,” a report from the Center for Effective Public Management at The Brookings Institution. Authors E.J. Dionne and Melissa Rogers offer recommendations on how the executive branch should approach issues related to religion and civil society and highlight opportunities for the next administration. Download the full PDF report here.)

All 4 Indian Americans Re-elected to US Congress

In an impressive show, all the four Indian-American Democratic lawmakers — Dr. Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna and Raja Krishnamoorthi — have been re-elected to the US House of Representatives during the elections held on November 3rd, 2020.

In recent years, the fast growing Indian-American community has emerged as a force to reckon with for the first time in the history of the US presidential election. Both the Democrat and the Republican campaigns had initiated several measures to woo the approximately 1.8 million members of the community who have emerged as a critical voting bloc in the battleground states of Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Meanwhile, in one of the most-watched races of the 2020 election, Indian American Sara Gideon of Maine narrowly lost to Republican incumbent Sen. Susan Collins and failed to flip the seat from red to blue as Democrats struggled to gain control of the Senate. Mainers largely consider themselves Independents. But on Nov. 3 evening, Gideon secured 46 percent of the votes — 338,617 votes — to Collins’ 51 percent: 407,884 votes.

“I have always worked hard to find our shared goals. That doesn’t stop. In fact, it’s more important now. We have to work together to build a better future,” said Gideon, focusing on prioritizing an economy that builds good jobs for working class people, and tackling climate change. “I’m proud of the campaign we ran,” said the candidate.

Democrats flipped two Senate seats on election night: in former red state Arizona, astronaut Mark Kelley beat out incumbent Martha McSally. In Colorado, John Hickenlooper, the state’s former governor, defeated Republican incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner. Republicans flipped one Senate seat, as Tommy Tuberville in Alabama defeated Democrat Doug Jones.

In House races, Rep. Ro Khanna, a Democrat from California serving the 17th Congressional District in Northern California’s East Bay, handily beat Republican challenger Ritesh Tandon to gain a third term in the House. The incumbent won 74 percent — 125,258 votes — while Tandon amassed 26 percent of the vote: 43,775.

“I am so honored and humbled by the overwhelming victory,” Khanna told India-West. “I am proud to represent our community and look forward to working to help bring people together after this divisive chapter in our nation’s history,” he said.

Democrat physician Ami Bera, the longest-serving Indian American in the House, won his re-election bid for California’s CD 7 seat — which represents portions of Sacramento — against former U.S. Air Force pilot, Republican Buzz Patterson. Bera won by 61 percent, 116,437 votes, while Patterson received 39 percent.

“It’s been an honor to represent the people of California’s 7th Congressional District and I am grateful for the trust voters have placed in me once again,” Bera said in a statement Nov. 3 night. “We face many difficult challenges ahead, including ending this pandemic, ensuring affordable and quality health care for every American, and growing our economy for working families,” he said.

“However, we can rise to the occasion and meet these challenges head on, as we’ve done generation after generation before. It will take hard work, empathy, and working across party lines to build compromise. I promise that I will continue to be a leader that puts people over politics to make government work for the people of Sacramento County,” said Bera, who won his 5th term.

Democrat Rishi Kumar failed to win his bid against fellow Democrat Anna Eshoo, who has represented California’s 18th Congressional District — in portions of the Silicon Valley — since 1993. Eshoo won with just under two-thirds of the vote, more than 65 percent, while Kumar received 34 percent, more than 79,000 votes.

Another newcomer, physician Hiral Tipirneni, a Democrat, failed to beat Republican incumbent David Schweikert in Arizona. The red state delivered one of the few surprises of election night, turning blue for the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket. In a virtual press conference Nov. 4 morning, Tipirneni acknowledged that the race was too close to call. She thanked voters for showing up in record numbers and for encouraging family and friends to vote.

“This is exactly where we wanted to be at this point in the race. This is a trajectory that will lead to victory,” she said. “We know we’ve done very well with Independents and cross-over votes, but we will wait to declare victory until every ballot is counted.

In Washington state, Rep. Pramila Jayapal overwhelmingly won her bid for re-election, capturing almost 85 percent: 344,541 votes. “Wow, we did it decisively! Thank you #WA07. I am humbled, grateful and ready to serve again. Our path to truly build a more just and equitable country is long. But we are bold, progressive & unafraid, and if we believe in the possible & organize, we WILL win,” tweeted Jayapal, who was running for her third term in the House.

In Illinois, Democrat Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi also handily won his re-election bid against Libertarian Preston Nelson. Krishnamoorthi won with almost 71 percent of the vote: 146,495 votes. “I am honored that my constituents have elected me to represent them in Congress for another two years, and I am tremendously grateful to all my supporters who helped make my re-election possible,” Krishnamoorthi said in a statement Nov. 3 evening.

“Today, our country faces enormous and unprecedented economic and public health challenges. No matter who controls the White House or the Senate in January, I am committed to doing whatever it takes to bring the country together to implement common-sense solutions that move our country and our people forward.”

International Diwali Festival with Participants from 30 Countries Planned

Bollywood Singer Anuradha Paudwal will perform virtually at the International Diwali and Dussehra Festival, which will be Joined by people from 30 Countries, Shri Sita Ram Foundation, the organizer of the event, said in a statement.

Diwali & Dussehra is the largest festival of India celebrated by more than 1.35 billion people world wide. Shri Sita Ram Foundation has organized this festival in the Houston area on a large scale in the fall of each year since 2012 to a capacity crowd of over 10,000 people at Skeeters Stadium in Sugarland, Texas.

This festival has grown tremendously since it started and continues to grow every year, the statement said. The team is innovative in finding unique ways to promote Indian Vedic culture to people of Houston, Texas and neighboring states.

In 2019, the Foundation initiated efforts to make it international by involving Consul Generals of 15 countries in the parade. Participating Consulates this year has increased to over 20. Over the years this festival has gained more recognition and has been attended by dignitaries such as Texas Governor Gregg Abbott, Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston, Mayor Zimmerman of Sugarland, other Mayors and several Congressmen, Senators, judges and members of the Consular Corps. in Houston.

This year, because of the pandemic, the event will be celebrated Semi – Virtually via Zoom,
Facebook live, and YouTube live . Virtual nature of the event has created an opportunity to
expand India’s culture and soft power rapidly to other countries than originally planned, the statement said. This year representatives of over 30 countries are participating in the event.

“Foundation has received a tremendous response to our call to join us in an International effort to celebrate this festival celebrating ‘Victory of Good Over Evil’ , and showcase India’s culture and soft power worldwide,” the statement said. “Temples, Performers and viewers will be participating from several countries as a result of this outreach effort by the Foundation team.

A highlight for this year will be the live performance by Padama Shri Anuradha Paudwal via Zoom from Mumbai. Apart from Padama Shri, Ms. Paudwal has won the Filmfare award four times, has been a recipient of the Lata Mangeshkar award and several national and international awards and recognitions.

Another feature added this year is the inclusion of major temples, worldwide. To name a few from India; Hanuman Ghari from Ayodhya, Tirmula Triputi Devastanam temple from Andhra Pradesh, Shri Jagannath temple from Puri , Prem Mandir & Shri Rangnath ji temple from Vrindaban, Kashi Vishwanath Temple , Bhadrachalam Temple- Bhadradri Sita Ramachandra swamy Devasthanam from Telangana, Radha Govind ji temple from Jaipur , Shrinath ji temple from Nathdwara and several others temples are participating .

Several temples from US, Canada, New Zealand, Myanmar, Australia, Singapore , South Africa, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Thailand , Mauritius and others are also participating in the event this year to celebrate this major festival. All temples world wide will be showcasing their temples briefly and telling the viewer how they celebrate Diwali.

Another new feature which has received overwhelming response is the Ramayan Skit contest where teams of participants from several countries will be competing with each other in showcasing skits/episodes from Ramcharit manas. Another feature which will be broadcast all over the world is Shri Sita Ram Kalyanam ( the divine marriage of Sita ji and Ram ji ) which will be enacted on stage this year by Hanuman Swami of Sri Rama Jaya Niketan , a new temple coming up in Katy, Texas

Apart from the new features added this year, the festival will present Ram Leela Play,score of amazing dances, Dussehra parade, Ravan Dahan, fire works and Maha Aarti.

This festival is from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. (CST) on the 7th Nov. 2020 and can be viewed on Facebook Live

( https://www.facebook.com/ShriSitaRamFoundation) and YouTube Live ( https://youtu.be/wueMezMzQ-Y). Links are also available at the Foundation website, www.ShriSitaRam.org.

Jenifer Rajkumar, Zohran Mamdani Elected to NY State Assembly

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

Shri Thanedar Elected To Michigan State Legislature

Indian American entrepreneur Shri Thanedar was elected to the House of Representatives in Michigan state legislature in the US Midwest, with 93 per cent votes as a Democrat. “Thank you for your support and votes in this important election. I am humbled and grateful for the support from the residents of Detroit’s third district, my family, my team and my friends,” tweeted Thanedar after the results were declared on late Wednesday night in the US.

Thanedar (65) was born on February 22, 1955 at Belagavi in the southern state’s northwest region. He migrated to the US in 1979 for a PhD in Polymer Chemistry from the University of Akron in Ohio state in 1982 after Master’s in the University of Bombay in 1977.

Promising to do all he can to improve the quality of life for all, Thanedar said he alone won’t be able to do much without the active participation of the people in the state. Thanedar raised a record $438,620 for his campaign in the state House primary against six opponents of his Democratic Party.

In an interview recently to the local media, Thandear said he launched his campaign last fall before the Covid pandemic invaded the country and distributed face masks, hand sanitisers and door knocker.

“I want to tackle the challenges plaguing the district, including blight, water shutoffs, foreclosures, crime and unemployment. I’m seeing people have no hope. Conditions are really bad and nothing has changed in years,” he said.

The Indian-origin American millionaire also ran for the Governor of Michigan post in the 2018 election. He spent about $10 million of his fortune to finish third behind Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Abdul El Sayed in the 2018 gubernatorial primary, though he won the most votes in Detroit.

“Earlier, Thanedar worked as a post-doctoral scholar at the University of Michigan (1982-1984) and worked as a Polymer Synthesis Chemist and project leader at the Petrolite Corporation at St. Louis in Missouri state from 1984 to 1990,” according to his Linkedin posting.

In 1990, Thanedar worked and acquired a service firm Chemir and steered it to a $63-million company with 400 employees from $150,000 revenue in a few years. He is also known to have turned around eight ventures into profitable firms.

Growing up as one of six children in a low-income family in Shapur suburb of the border town, Thanedar learnt about the importance of education and the need to be financially independent at a young age. Though he passed in high school board exam in second division with 55 per cent marks, he managed to secure a job in a bank in the neighbouring district of Vijayapura (formerly Bijapur) in the state’s northern region.

Besides Thanedar, Indian-born Amercian lawyer Jenifer Rajkumar (38) became the first Asian woman to be elected to the New York State Assembly, defeating her Republican rival Giovanni Perna. Niraj Antani (29) is another first Indian-American to be elected to the Ohio state Senate as a Republican, defeating Mark Fogel of the Democratic Party.

Four Indian-American Democratic lawmakers Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna and Raja Krishnamoorthi — have also been re-elected to the US House of Representatives. (IANS

Battle For US Senate To Be Decided In January

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Record Number of Women to Serve in the 117th U.S. Congress

At least 131 (100D, 31R) women will serve in the U.S. Congress in 2021, surpassing the previous record of 127, first set in 2019, according to data compiled by the Center for American Women and Politics, a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. A record 106 (83D, 23R) women have already been elected to the U.S. House, including 85 (75D, 10R) incumbents and 21 (8D, 13R) non-incumbents.

The previous record for women in the U.S. House was 102 and was set in 2019. Republican women are also close to breaking their record of 25 House members, set in 2006. Republican women currently hold 13 seats in the U.S. House. At 83 winners already selected, Democratic women are still short of their record of 89 women House members, set in 2019. Democratic women currently hold 88 seats in the U.S. House. As of now, 29 (19D, 10R) women House nominees – including 6 (5D, 1R) incumbents and 23 (14D, 9R) non-incumbents – remain in races that are not yet called.

Republican women have already surpassed the record for non-incumbent women House winners, with 13 women winning their 2020 races. The previous record of 9 was set in 2006. So far, 8 non-incumbent Democratic have won election this year; the record for freshman Democratic women House winners is 35, set in 2019. In contrast, already 5 Democratic women incumbents – all responsible for flipping districts from Republican to Democrat in 2018 – were defeated in 2020. No Republican women incumbents have been defeated in 2020 races already called.

As it stands now, 25 (17D, 8R) women will serve in the U.S. Senate in 2021, falling short of the record of 26 set in 2019, including 7 (2D, 5R) women who have won election in 2020 and 18 (15D, 3R) incumbent women senators who were not up for re-election this year. These numbers will change should incumbent Senator Kamala Harris ascend to the vice presidency or Senator Kelly Loeffler win her runoff election on January 5th.

“Women’s representation in American politics has been, through struggle and persistence, on a long, if occasionally fitful, upward trajectory. With all that progress, at best women will still make up less than thirty percent of Congress in 2021,” said CAWP Director Debbie Walsh. “The 2018 cycle was a story of Democratic success; this year we are seeing significant gains on the Republican side. Advances for women must come from both sides of the aisle if women are to achieve equal representation in Congress.”

As many races remain too close to call, these numbers will change as results are determined. For the most current data about women in the 2020 elections, visit CAWP’s Election 2020 Results Tracker, and for full results about women in the 2020 elections, head to CAWP’s Election Analysis.

Priyanca Radhakrishnan sworn in as New Zealand Minister

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indo-American Leadership Forum Offers Powerful Platform to New England Indian-American Community

The New England community leaders organized a virtual meet on November 2nd as part of the 2nd annual meeting of the Indo-American Leadership Forum.  Due to the pandemic, the event was held online but the agenda was just as robust.  More than 35 community organizations came together for this virtual meet. The event was kicked off by Shri Vikas Deshpande (a volunteer with Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh), one of the organizers of the Leadership Forum.  Shri Vikas Deshpande welcomed everyone and set the pace of the meet by sharing the philosophy behind the Indo Leadership Forum and how it will show the strength of the Indian community in times of need. Shri Nilesh Agrawal, a volunteer with the Dharma Center of America, welcomed the Honorary Consulate General of India, Shri Randhir Jaiswal who greeted all the community leaders and provided his guidance. Shri Jaiswal spoke to the strength of the community and provided updates related to administrative changes in the Consular process. Randhir ji, also talked about the increased responsibility of the Indian community to give back to the society in these difficult times. He appreciated all the work the various organizations are doing and also urged them to think collectively of innovative ways to support a section of the Indian society that needs more help – single parents, families facing challenging domestic issues, among others. His comments were certainly thought provoking and provided direction on areas where the Leadership forum can work collectively.

Our guest speaker, Shri Urgen ji Sherpa, who is the President of the United Sherpa Association, spoke of the history and contribution of the Nepalese, Tibetan and Buddhist communities in the US and their contributions to the COVID-19 relief efforts. He inspired one and all with narration of the monumental work efforts by the communities despite its limited presence and appealed to the self-motivation that individuals need to bring during difficult times to step up and give back.  Shri Hetal Joshi, Founder, Academy of Creative arts, represented the audience and moderated a Q&A session with Urgen ji. 

Shri Arun Kankani ji, President of Sewa International, the largest Hindu charitable organization in the US, shared his thoughts on the spirit of volunteering. He talked about the incredible work done by Sewa International across the US, whether it is providing meals and food to the needy or counseling on mental health issues. Shri Ramakrishna Penumarthy, President, Telugu Association of Greater Boston, wonderfully consolidated the many questions from the audience for Shri Kankani and asked him about Sewa’s International’s efforts and challenges during the pandemic.

Dr. Yogesh Rathi, a Professor at Harvard Medical School, and a volunteer with the Dharma Center of America, moderated the last segment of the forum and discussed the Sewa Diwali project, an initiative to serve the community by means of a food drive in the spirit of Diwali celebrations. He suggested that community leaders come together for this US wide food drive to support the society in the coming winter months. An overwhelming response of interest for participation was the high note which concluded the virtual meet. Smt Suman Garhwal, a volunteer with Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) was the moderator for the 1.5 hr long meet while Shri Nilesh Agrawal, provided the technical coordination and managed a smooth flow of the event. A video compilation of all the participating organizations was put together by Nilesh Agarwal and certainly was the best way to get to know the efforts of all organizations in a short event. Suman Garhwal delivered the vote of thanks to all attendees with next steps to continue the engagement and work with all the organizations (listed below) for future initiatives.  

World Hindu Council of America Inaugurates its First Hindu Center in the US

The World Hindu Council of America, known by its Hindi acronym as VHPA, has inaugurated its first Hindu Center in Sugar Grove, IL. The occasion was graced by Indian Consul General of Chicago Amit Kumar and the Mayor of Sugar Grove Sean Michels who were joined by an intimate group of the organization’s leaders and their families.

The Center’s mission is to bring the Hindu community together, celebrate Hindu culture and heritage and pass it on to the next generation. As per Hindu tradition, a yagna was performed and presided over by the President of the Chicago Chapter Nirav Patel, Vice Presidents Vinesh Virani and Harindra Mangrola, Secretary Shailesh Rajput, Midwest Coordinator Sanjay Shah, and VHPA Joint General Secretary Amitabh Mittal and their spouses.

Strict social distancing norms were maintained including limiting the number of people. India’s Consul General to Chicago, Amit Kumar congratulated the organization for its efforts in bringing this ambitious project to fruition while Mayor Michels lauded the Indian American community for their substantial contributions to the US.

The Center, located at 200 N. Bond St, Sugar Grove, IL, stands on a 2.7-acre plot of land and has a built-up area of 16,000 sq. feet. The Center will offer services to the American Hindu community including Bal-Vihar for children, Vedic Math classes and Women’s Self Defense classes among other activities. Center will also be available for social gatherings and office space rentals.

Maheshwari Mahasabha of North America (MMNA) celebrates a ‘Virtual Utsav 2020’

Maheshwari Mahasabha of North America (MMNA) organized a month long Virtual Utsav 200 from October 11 through 25th, 2020, celebrating the rich cultural traditions of India. MMNA celebrated a virtual Utsal over the 3 weekends, during the festive season of Navratri. These three Sunday evenings consisted of thrilling and entertaining performances. 

Over 600 members attended the 2 hour event virtually over Zoom. After the opening remarks by Utsav Sootradhar – Jitendra Muchhal, MMNA President – Vikas Bhutada provided the context of celebrating the Utsav and keeping the community connected, especially more so in these pandemic times. 

The celebrations began on October 11th with a melodious Ganesh vandana, the MCs Archana Panda and Prashant Jhanwar started off the evening in their hilarious style and kept the audience totally engaged. Hasya Kavi Dr. Kamlesh Dwivedi, Padmashri Dr. Sunil Jogi and Archana Pandya kept the audience laughing and entertained for almost 1.5 hours. 

Jitendra Muchhal facilitated lively interactive discussions with several MMNA members. Many of the members got to see and meet each other virtually after a long time and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. The event coordination was very well done by MMNA’s Silicon valley Chapter President, Swapnil  Laddha. 

On October 18, while celebrating Maha Trivia with Maha Sabha and Ravi Drums’ over 600 members attended the 2.5 hour event virtually over Zoom. Utsav Sootradhar – Abhilasha Rathi welcomed the audience and introduced the Chair for MMNA-RAYS (Rajasthani Abroad Youth Samaj) – Sarika Malani. The RAYS team coordinated the program and engaged the audience in playing an ethnic Rajasthani Trivia in several virtual breakout rooms. It was a unique experience for several members of all age groups. The teams were scored and the winning team was recognized and received the awards.  Shivalik Bihani from the RAYS team actively managed over 25 breakout rooms with the help of RAYS volunteers.

Subsequently, Mr. Dhiraj Srivastava, Commissioner of Rajasthan Foundation addressed the gathering virtually from Jaipur. He commended the MMNA team for organizing such an event, especially during these times and engaging the youth. He participated in playing the Trivia as well. Shyamsunder Soni, President of Akhil Bharatvarshiya Maheshwari Mahasabha also sent in his compliments through a video message.

This was followed by a very entertaining program by the famous Hollywood Sensation – Ravi Drums! Ravi’s virtual performance with drums mesmerized the audience and got them off the chairs and in the dancing mode. It was a sensational feeling as 600+ members virtually enjoyed as if they were present in an auditorium. Ravi is son of Shri-Smt Jakhetiaji of Florida, long time MMNA members. Ravi was introduced by MMNA Vice President Ashish Daga. 

The session ended after a social chit-chat between the members.

Members expressed a lot of happiness with the proceedings of these virtual sessions:

“We neither had to prepare any clothes, nor pack any bags, nor get on the plane to the place of a convention but still we had a similar experience / feeling of a real convention”, by participating right from our own homes. “We could meet several of our friends and relatives virtually, just in the last 2 hours”.

On October 25, during Vijaya Dashami Celebration with Ek Shaam Aapke Naam,’ which  was attended by approx. 1,000 members and lasted for 4.5 hours in the virtual mode. This was a record-breaking event for MMNA in terms of the attendance and the duration. The event started with a welcome by the ‘Sootradhar’ Jitendra Mucchal. Vikas Bhutada, MMNA President wished Happy Dussehra to all the members and explained how this unique evening was reminiscent of his childhood days of greeting the close family & friends and witnessing ‘Ravan Dahan’. He also recapped the happenings of the prior two events and assured the audience of thrilling performances in store for the audience. He thanked the MMNA-Sakhi team Chair & Co-Chair Vandana Daga & Yogita Sarada for putting in their best to bring such an entertaining evening for the members.

The evening was superbly coordinated by MCs Neha Rathi and Yogita Miharia. It started with performances of MMNA community members from all the 9 chapters across the US & Canada. The theme of the evening was ‘emotions & feelings’. The individual / group performances included classical & bollywood dances, singing and skits by members of all the age groups. The audience members were encouraged to dress in their best ethnic attire and a panel of judges evaluated and chose the best dressed attendees and several prizes were given away in different categories. 

MMNA team presented an eye-catching audio-visual titled ‘Golden Snippets 2016-2020’

(MMNA – Golden Snippets (2016-2020) covering a synopsis of multitude of their activities and significant projects undertaken by different teams during their term of these 4 years. A video message sent by the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, complementing the community on their efforts to connect and contribute during these difficult times, was also played for the audience. Several MMNA members of the Board Of Trustees, National Executive Committee and Utsav volunteers were recognized during the event. Dr. Ghanshyam Heda, BOT Chair was recognized for receiving multiple awards / scholarships including the prestigious Fulbright award for Education. 

This was followed by a thrilling, mesmerizing and power-packed virtual live performance by the famous ‘Dhwani’ Trio from Kolkata, India. The audience of all ages was totally engaged in singing along & dancing with the stars of Dhwani. It was a memorable evening to watch – with so many smiles, amazing colorful ethnic Rajasthani costumes and a beautiful family environment. The audience was ecstatic with joy and celebration.This was followed by a Live ‘Raavan – Dahan’ from California from home of Prashant Maloo – who made the 10 Headed Ravan Effigy with sword – which was then confined to flames  by Shri Ram. Contributions of Poonam Bhutada, Amit Somani, Shruti Soni, Surekha Soni, Anurag Soni were also exemplary in the entire Utsav series. The whole Utsav programs came to life due to superb use of technology and interactivity. 

MMNA was founded in 1983 with the purpose of preserving its rich Rajasthani Maheshwari culture and heritage, while the community continued to grow in America. It is easy to lose track of the culture, traditions and values, especially for the younger generation, if these are not preserved, enhanced and made relevant to the modern times, particularly for diaspora. MMNA helps bridge that gap and also promotes togetherness and social welfare through its platform of 4,000 individual members in 10 chapters. MMNA also helps the community to come together and make a difference in the local communities through multiple philanthropic activities.  

According to organizers, MMNA focuses on 7 major initiatives:

  • RAYS (Rajasthani Abroad Youth Samaj)
  • RASS (Rajastahni Abroad Senior Samaj)
  • Sakhi (for women empowerment)
  • Education (Provide financial assistance and mentoring to students)
  • Matrimonial
  • BET (Business & Entrepreneurship Track)
  • Philanthropy (Provide assistance & support to the needy during crisis)

MMNA Utsav 2020 – Video Highlights are available at:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8COMXDqdGlc and https://youtu.be/atbt9wB5jzQ/

Businesses in US Frustrated by Government Inaction on Relief

NATIONAL REPORT—In a panel discussion at the Best Western Hotels & Resorts Virtual Convention, industry leaders expressed their frustration with government’s failure to act on legislation that will help the travel industry. “[Congress] cares more about going back on the campaign trail to protect their own jobs than the millions of jobs of the people they represent,” said Chip Rogers, president/CEO, AHLA. “That is what is really concerning—that we have gotten to this place in America. At the beginning of this, it was real simple, Congress recognized we had a major problem, and what did they do? They responded with the CARES package that included a number of things, including PPP.” But, Rogers said, the problem with creating that package was that it was only going to last eight to 10 weeks, because Congress only expected the problem to last that long. “Here we are, six months into it. Eight-10 weeks was a long time ago. The problem still exists. If you were able to recognize back in March that this was so serious, you ought to be able to recognize that now.” Rogers said that he is less than 50% convinced that the government is going to get a package done. Roger Dow, president/CEO, U.S. Travel Association, spoke of the coalition of travel industry organizations and companies that have come together to communicate their call to action. “Hopefully something gets done because it is critical. We cannot let these businesses go on…so many small businesses and so many lives are bet on these businesses and we have got to be helping them.” Cecil P. Staton, president/CEO, AAHOA, sees the passage of a relief package as a moral imperative. “I do believe that there are some people out there who are simply saying, ‘The capital market will take care of this. We leave it alone. Someone will come along, buy these hotels when they are in foreclosure and within a year or two everything will be back to normal.’ But that doesn’t get to the heart of this issue because our members and hoteliers across this country are in the position they are in through no fault of their own. It wasn’t that they are bad businesspeople. They didn’t make bad business decisions. They are dealing with the fact that the government shut down the economy and shut down travel and they are having to deal with the repercussions of this.” He continued, “There is a moral imperative here that Congress get back to work, put the politics aside. Let’s do something that will help small businesses make it through COVID-19, which is obviously going to be more months until we have a vaccine. To do otherwise risks the possibility of the main streets of our country being littered with carcasses of failed small businesses. I think if we want to see the economy revived, it is much simpler to do it now, to help those small businesses, than to get to the other side when more people are unemployed, there are more business failures, more foreclosures and it is going to take a whole lot longer to get to recovery.”

New York’s LaGuardia Airport Is Giving Travelers Free COVID-19 Tests

New York’s LaGuardia Airport is the city’s latest hub to open a COVID-19 testing site—and the tests are free to all, even those without insurance. Although all three New York-area airports now have testing facilities, LaGuardia became the first to offer tests free of charge when the new site opened its doors earlier in October. Located on the first floor of the Terminal B parking garage, the walk-up testing site is open to New York residents, visitors, and airport employees with no appointments required. The facility is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and those getting tested will also receive free parking in the Terminal B garage.

Tests are administered by NYC Health & Hospitals clinicians via PCR nose swabs, and results are available by phone within 48 hours. While the tests are free, patients with insurance will be asked to provide their policy information but will not be charged a copay or co-insurance fees. (More information can be found on New York’s Test and Trace Corps website.) Similar nose swab tests conducted at other airport sites run about $150 per screening.

Although the airport location is a convenient option for fliers on their way to countries or states that require a negative COVID-19 test to enter or travel more freely, there is no guarantee results will be available by the time the plane lands. 

LaGuardia’s free tests are part of a larger push from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to have complimentary tests available at New York’s airports. A similar free testing site is set to open John F. Kennedy International Airport in coming weeks, according to the Port Authority.

Numerous airports and airlines are hoping that widespread testing for COVID-19 can help restart air travel by enabling fliers with negative test results to bypass lengthy quarantine requirements. The airports’ free tests come as United Airlines announced a similar free rapid testing trial program for passengers on its Newark-to-Heathrow route. Although only customers who test negative for the virus will be allowed to board those flights, the passengers will still be required to follow the U.K.’s 14-day quarantine regulations upon landing in London

H-1B Proposed Rule Moves Forward, Flunks Economics 101

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced last week it sent a proposed rule to the Federal Register radically changing how it selects H-1B temporary professional workers. The H-1B program was intended to allow employers to fill gaps in their workforce and remain competitive in the global economy, however it has now expanded far beyond that, often to the detriment of U.S. workers. Data shows that the more than a half million H-1B nonimmigrants in the United States have been used to displace U.S. workers. This has led to reduced wages in a number of industries in the U.S. labor market and the stagnation of wages in certain occupations. These latest efforts on H-1B visas are part of a larger Trump Administration goal to protect American workers.

“We have entered an era in which economic security is an integral part of homeland security. Put simply, economic security is homeland security. In response, we must do everything we can within the bounds of the law to make sure the American worker is put first,” said Acting Secretary Chad Wolf. “The Department of Homeland Security is honored to take this important step toward putting Americans first and to continue to implement President Trump’s agenda to keep our economy secure.”

This rule will combat the use of H-1B workers to serve as a low-cost replacement for otherwise qualified American workers.

The new rule will:

  • Narrow the definition of “specialty occupation” as Congress intended by closing the overbroad definition that allowed companies to game the system;
  • Require companies to make “real” offers to “real employees,” by closing loopholes and preventing the displacement of the American worker; and,
  • Enhance DHS’s ability to enforce compliance through worksite inspections and monitor compliance before, during, and after an H1-B petition is approved.

Stephen Yale-Loehr, professor of immigration law at Cornell Law School and co-author of a leading 21-volume immigration law series, says that though the rule is premised on preserving jobs for U.S. workers, it overlooks the economic benefits of high skilled foreign workers. If you’d like to connect with Prof. Yale-Loehr about this development please contact him directly at 607-379-9707 or [email protected]

Yale-Loehr says:  “The rule would scrap the current random selection system and instead select H-1B workers based on their salaries. The highest paid workers would be allowed to file an H-1B petition; workers offered lower salaries might not be able to file a petition if more than 85,000 higher paid H-1B workers filed petitions first. Current H-1B regulations already require employers to pay the higher of the actual or prevailing wage for similarly situated U.S. workers. Thus, it is hard to know what more the proposed rule would do.

“By effectively increasing salaries for H-1B workers, the proposed rule would harm all employers trying to hire foreign temporary professional workers, but especially schools, startup companies, and smaller companies that cannot afford to pay the high salaries that Silicon Valley and other big companies offer. 

“The rule is premised on preserving jobs for U.S. workers. However, the rule fails to understand that many nonimmigrant workers, especially high skilled foreign workers, help grow the economy. For example, one study found that every H-1B worker creates about five jobs for U.S. workers in the technology sector.  “The new proposed rule may score points with the President’s political base, but it flunks Economics 101.”

(By Cornell University)

Global study sees India having edge in Covid-19 vaccines

It will likely take three to four years to manufacture enough vaccines to cover the world’s population, but high-income countries and a few middle-income countries with manufacturing capacity such as India, have already purchased nearly 3.8 bn dose

India has used its manufacturing capability to pre-order 600 million doses of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine and is negotiating for another billion doses, enough to vaccinate at least half the population, according to a new global analysis of advance market commitments (AMCs) for experimental vaccines till October 8. Most experimental Covid-19 vaccines require two doses.

The figures are second only to the US, which has pre-ordered 810 million confirmed doses and has another 1.6 billion under negotiation.

It will likely take three to four years to manufacture enough vaccines to cover the world’s population, but high-income countries and a few middle-income countries with manufacturing capacity such as India, have already purchased nearly 3.8 billion doses, with options for another five billion, showed an analysis of purchasing agreements for Covid-19 vaccines by the US-based Duke Global Health Innovation Center.

“In terms of numbers of confirmed doses, the USA has pre-ordered the largest number (810 million confirmed, another 1.6 billion doses under negotiation), followed by India (600 million doses confirmed, with another 1 billion doses under negotiation), and the EU (400 million doses confirmed, another 1.565 billion doses under negotiation). But in terms of percent of population covered by confirmed purchases, Canada has pre-purchased enough vaccine to cover 527% of their population, followed by the UK at 277% of their population,” said Andrea D Taylor, assistant director of programmes at the Duke Global Health Innovation Center, who led the analysis. “Of course, it is important to remember that most likely only some of the vaccine purchases will come through, depending on regulatory approval,” said Taylor.

“India is producing vaccines to protect the world against Covid-19, why shouldn’t it ensure its own citizens are protected as well? The government is committed to protecting the health of its citizens, so all measures have been taken to ensure we get adequate doses of the vaccines when they are available,” said a senior Union health ministry official, requesting anonymity.

Since none of the experimental vaccines yet have regulatory approval, countries are hedging bets by purchasing multiple candidates and some part of these doses may never materialise. The UK, for example, has made AMCs with five different vaccine candidates, using four different vaccine technologies.

Future agreements under discussion by the EU raise that number of vaccine doses to almost two billion, while the US, which has pre-ordered doses to cover 230% of its population, could eventually control 1.8 billion doses — about a quarter of the world’s near-term supply — according to the analysis.

Mothers affect how daughters act in close relationships

Newswise — Feminist mothers raise more feminist daughters who are able to stand up for themselves in their close relationships, according to new research from the University of Georgia.

The study revealed that a mother’s feminist attitudes have an impact on her daughter’s “voice” – or the ability to speak her mind in close relationships. And daughters with a stronger ability to speak their minds have better mental health too, according to the study.

Also called “self-silencing,” women who lack a strong “voice” tend to inhibit their own thoughts, feelings and emotions in order to avoid conflict and maintain their relationships. The authors argue that self-silencing is a socially learned behavior due to social expectations regarding traditional gender roles within relationships. This self-silencing can lead to negative mental health outcomes because it does not allow women to express their authenticity and needs in their relationships

For the purposes of the study, “feminist attitudes” were grounded in the assumption that there should be equality among the sexes and that women can stick up for themselves and should.  

“The idea of ‘voice’ isn’t new, but this is one of the first studies to examine how mothers and daughters are associated with each other’s ‘voice,’” said the study’s lead author, Analisa Arroyo, an associate professor in UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. “We found interesting results occurring at the relational level. Not only does having feminist attitudes discourage the act of self-silencing and therefore result in better mental health for both mothers and daughters, our results also found that feminist mothers were experiencing better mental health outcomes as a result of their daughters using their voice in their close relationships.”

The authors refer to daughters’ impact on their mothers as reciprocal socialization. “Reciprocal socialization means that not only do daughters learn from their mothers, but mothers can learn from their daughters just the same. A mother seeing her daughter use her voice and speak her mind can be inspiring and motivating to mothers,” said Arroyo.

Participants in the study included 169 mother-daughter dyads. Female students were recruited from communication classes at UGA and were asked to provide the names and email addresses for themselves and their mothers. Surveys were sent separately to mothers and daughters.

On average, the daughters were 19.7 years old and primarily Caucasian (78.1% compared to 9.5% Asian, 7.1% Black/African American, 2.4% Latinx, and 3.0% other responses). The mothers’ average age was 50.9 and they were also mostly Caucasian (79.9% compared to 8.9% Asian, 5.9% Black/African American, 1.2% Latinx, and 1.8% other responses).

Arroyo, who has a 4-year-old son and an infant daughter, plans to keep this research in mind as she raises her own daughter.

“I want my daughter to have the agency to share her unique thoughts and perspective with the world. When women self-silence, they aren’t being true to themselves. And when they do that in their close relationships, it has a negative impact on their psychological well-being,” Arroyo said. “I already see a lack of ‘voice’ when I interact with my 7-year-old niece. She is quick to say ‘Whatever you want. I don’t know.’ Now I have a label for that behavior. I have to ask her what do you want? Don’t be afraid to tell me — your voice is valid.’”

The full study is available online at


Dating apps linked to depression, social anxiety in women: Study

Researchers have found that depression symptoms and social anxiety are associated with greater use of mobile dating applications such as Tinder and Bumble among the women.

This study, published in the journal ‘Cyberpsychology, Behaviour, and Social Networking’, explored associations between symptoms of social anxiety and depression with participants’ extent of dating app use, self-reported motivations for dating app use, and the likelihood of initiating interaction with dating app matches.

Recent research suggests that motivations beyond intimate relationship formation attract people to mobile dating applications.

“With increased symptoms of social anxiety and depression, women maybe even more likely to turn to technology for social connection, especially if alternative forms of social contact are reduced due to social avoidance,” said study author Martin Antony from Ryerson University in Canda.

For the results, 374 participants completed an online battery of surveys that examined psychopathology and dating app use.

Social anxiety and depression symptoms were positively associated with participants’ extent of dating app use, and symptoms of psychopathology and gender interacted to predict various dating app use motivations.

Symptoms of social anxiety and depression predicted a lower likelihood of initiating contact with a dating app match among men but not women.

This study provides an initial step towards understanding the relationship between social anxiety, depression, and use of dating apps.

Among the men, the greater their social anxiety and depression symptoms, the less likely they were to initiate contact with matches on mobile dating apps.

“With mobile dating apps increasingly figuring into today’s dating landscape, research studies are vital to understanding their merits as well as their shortcomings,” the study authors noted. (IANS)

Study Finds Impact Of Screen Time To Mental Health In Girls

Teenagers, especially girls, have better mental health when they spend less time in front of screens and more time taking part in extracurricular activities, like sports and art. A study, published in the journal Preventive Medicine, found that spending less than two hours per day of recreational screen time associated with higher levels of life satisfaction and optimism, and lower levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms, especially among girls.

Similarly, extracurricular participation was associated with better mental health outcomes. “The findings are especially relevant now when teens may be spending more time in front of screens in their free time if access to extracurricular activities, like sports and arts programs is restricted due to Covid-19,” said the study’s lead author Eva Oberle from University of British Columbia in Canada.

“Our findings highlight extracurricular activities as an asset for teens’ mental wellbeing,” Oberle added. Finding safe ways for children and teens to continue to participate in these activities during current times may be a way to reduce screen time and promote mental health and wellbeing.

Data for this study was drawn from a population-level survey involving 28,712 Grade 7 students from 365 schools in 27 school districts. The researchers examined recreational screen time such as playing video games, watching television, browsing the internet, as well as participating in outdoor extracurricular activities such as sport and art programs after school.

They then compared its association with positive and negative mental health indicators. The findings showed that adolescents who participated in extracurricular activities were significantly less likely to engage in recreational screen-based activities for two or more hours after school.

Taking part in extracurricular activities was associated with higher levels of life satisfaction and optimism, and lower levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms. Longer screen time (more than two hours a day) was associated with lower levels of life satisfaction and optimism, and higher levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms, the study has found.

“Further research is needed to examine why the negative effects of screen time were more detrimental for girls than for boys. She also hopes to focus future research on the effects of different types of screen time,” the authors noted. (IANS)

Is Sergio Ramos The Best Defender Ever?

The crown of the ‘greatest soccer player ever’ is often passed around, from generation to generation. Plenty would argue that Pele, who played for a short while in the North American Soccer League, is the greatest of all time. In more recent years, Diego Maradona perhaps held the crown for a short while, whilst Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are widely regarded as the best currently still kicking a ball. Messi is very much a one-club man after recently opting to remain at Barcelona, whilst Ronaldo has played in four of Europe’s top divisions.

In terms of defenders, there are fewer opportunities to impress and whilst some world greats do get noticed, such as England’s Bobby Moore, standing out is hard. Moore also wound up in the NASL for a short while, and is widely regarded as one of the finest defenders of all time.

It might be prudent to add Spanish defender Sergio Ramos to that list, after his 100th goal for Real Madrid in a recent Champions League game against Inter Milan. The 34-year-old has been with Los Blancos for 15 years, racking up 659 appearances for them, in addition to an impressive 175 for Spain. He has won La Liga on five occasions, lifted the Champions League four times and the World Club Cup three times. Internationally, he is a two-time European Championship winner and a World Cup winner too.

It is not just the trophies that support an argument for him being the best defender ever. His longevity is astounding, playing right at the top of his game for 15 years and not looking like fading. He started out as a rampaging right back, but as the years have built up, he converted to a stylish, strong centre back. The move was almost always inevitable; he was given the famous number four shirt when he signed for Madrid, previously worn by another legend of Spain’s defense, Fernando Hierro. It is Hierro’s goalscoring record Ramos is now chasing down; he scored 124 goals for Madrid but did play a portion of his career in midfield.

Ramos came through the youth ranks at Sevilla alongside Jesus Navas and Antonio Puerta. Unfortunately, Puerta went on to appear once for Spain before sadly passing away at the age of 22. He was a two-time UEFA Cup winner with Sevilla and a huge talent, whilst Navas has gone on to have a career almost as illustrious as Ramos. Analysis on footballers burning out by Bwin notes that Navas is approaching his 35th birthday and, like Ramos, he too is still playing right at the top of La Liga. He has also won the UEFA Cup, three times, as well as a Premier League title in England with Manchester City, underlining the quality all three players had emerging at Sevilla.

It is Ramos whose name will likely go down in history as one of the all-time greats though. He has helped Madrid through the Galactico era, and beyond, and remained an integral part of their success as club captain. As for his time with Spain, his 23 goals have him as the highest scoring international defender of all time, one ahead of Argentinian legend Daniel Passarella.

However, with how the game has changed and the physical demands placed upon top stars, there is little doubt that at 34, Sergio Ramos must be considered one of the best defenders of all time, especially as he shows little signs of slowing now.

Credit – Кирилл Венедиктов, Russia-Spain 2017 (1)CC BY-SA 3.0

Global Temperature Report: October 2020 Global climate trend since Dec. 1 1978: +0.14 °C (+0.25 °F) per decade

October’s seasonally-adjusted, large-scale temperature averages generally fell a bit from September’s with one major exception.  The global average was +0.54 °C (+0.97 °F), second warmest to October 2017.  The atmospheric temperature over the northern mid-latitude oceans, and in particular the northern Pacific Ocean, was the warmest October value of the satellite era at +0.99 °C (+1.78 F), pushing the whole Northern Hemisphere to its warmest October in the 42 years of record.  The NH Land area and the Globe as a whole have been warmer in earlier Octobers.  You can see all of the numbers at the link given at the end of the report.

As you know, the Earth is experiencing a La Niña event now (colder than normal equatorial Pacific sea temperatures) and this should affect global temperatures in the next several months.  See here for the latest analysis from NOAA. 


The current situation looks a lot like the 2007-08 La Niña in terms of the El Niño Indices that describe the event, so I did some comparisons.  The global temperature for the first six months of 2008 averaged 0.32 °C cooler than the average for the previous August to October.  If this bears out, we would expect January to June 2021 to average about +0.2 °C, i.e., about 0.3 °C cooler than August to October of this year.  I also checked the same periods for the La Niña of 2010-11 and came up with the same difference, a cooling of 0.32 °C from late summer/early fall to the following January to June.

I noticed too that though the global temperature did not really begin to fall in these previous two La Niñas until after October, the tropical temperatures indeed had started to fall.  Here we see another parallel to 2007 and 2010 in that tropical temperatures in 2020 have declined in the past two months by 0.2 °C, a value similar to the decline in these previous two events.  So, evidence from past events indicate a bit of cooling is in the offing for the start of 2021.

There were a number of regions with warmer than average temperatures this month.  The warmest was over the Tibetan Plateau at +4.6 °C, but other warm spots appeared in the aforementioned North Pacific as well as the north polar region, Ukraine/western Russia, South Africa and Argentina.

Cooler-than-average regions were less extensive, but the coldest location stood out clearly in Ontario, Canada which experienced temperatures that were 3.9 °C below the seasonal mean.  Other cool regions were found in France, parts of the southeastern Pacific Ocean and central Russia to Mongolia.

Overall, the conterminous U.S. experienced an above-average temperature of +1.10 °C (+1.98 °F) with the western third quite a bit above average (again.)  Alaska was just as warm so that the 49-state mean temperature departure was the same +1.10 °C (+1.98 °F).   [We don’t include Hawaii in the US results because its land area is less than that of a satellite grid square, so it would have virtually no impact on the overall national results.] 


Spoiler Alert first published March 2019: As noted over the past several months in this report, the drifting of satellites NOAA-18 and NOAA-19, whose temperature errors were somewhat compensating each other, will be addressed in this updated version of data released from March 2019 onward.  As we normally do in these situations we have decided to terminate ingestion of NOAA-18 observations as of 1 Jan 2017 because the corrections for its significant drift were no longer applicable.  We have also applied the drift corrections for NOAA-19 now that it has started to drift far enough from its previous rather stable orbit.  These actions will eliminate extra warming from NOAA-18 and extra cooling from NOAA-19.  The net effect is to introduce slight changes from 2009 forward (when NOAA-19 began) with the largest impact on annual, global anomalies in 2017 of 0.02 °C.  The 2018 global anomaly changed by only 0.003°C, from +0.228°C to +0.225°C.  These changes reduce the global trend by -0.0007 °C/decade (i.e. 7 ten-thousandths of a degree) and therefore does not affect the conclusions one might draw from the dataset.  The v6.0 methodology is unchanged as we normally stop ingesting satellites as they age and apply the v6.0 diurnal corrections as they drift.

To-Do List: There has been a delay in our ability to utilize and merge the new generation of microwave sensors (ATMS) on the NPP and JPSS satellites.  As of now, the calibration equations applied by the agency have changed at least twice, so that the data stream contains inhomogeneities which obviously impact the type of measurements we seek.  We are hoping this is resolved soon with a dataset that is built with a single, consistent set of calibration equations.   In addition, the current non-drifting satellite operated by the Europeans, MetOP-B, has not yet been adjusted or “neutralized” for its seasonal peculiarities related to its unique equatorial crossing time (0930).  While these MetOP-B peculiarities do not affect the long-term global trend, they do introduce error within a particular year in specific locations over land. 

As part of an ongoing joint project between UAH, NOAA and NASA, Christy and Dr. Roy Spencer, an ESSC principal scientist, use data gathered by advanced microwave sounding units on NOAA, NASA and European satellites to produce temperature readings for almost all regions of the Earth. This includes remote desert, ocean and rain forest areas where reliable climate data are not otherwise available.  Research Associate Rob Junod assists in the preparation of these reports.

The satellite-based instruments measure the temperature of the atmosphere from the surface up to an altitude of about eight kilometers above sea level. Once the monthly temperature data are collected and processed, they are placed in a “public” computer file for immediate access by atmospheric scientists in the U.S. and abroad.

October Temperatures (preliminary)

Global composite temp.:  +0.54 °C (+0.97 °F) above seasonal average

Northern Hemisphere: +0.71 °C (+1.28 °F) above seasonal average

Southern Hemisphere: +0.37 °C (+0.67 °F) above seasonal average

Tropics: +0.37 °C (+0.67 °F) above seasonal average


September Temperatures (final)

Global composite temp.:  +0.57 °C (+1.03 °F) above seasonal average

Northern Hemisphere: +0.58 °C (+1.04 °F) above seasonal average

Southern Hemisphere: +0.56 °C (+1.01 °F) above seasonal average

Tropics: +0.46 °C (+0.83 °F) above seasonal average

 (By University of Alabama Huntsville)

5 Big Questions on Health Care and COVID-19

For the third U.S. presidential election in a row, health care is among the most hotly contested issues. The future of health care in the United States could change dramatically depending on who wins in November, with one side vowing to replace the Affordable Care Act and the other discussing ways to expand it. Why does the U.S. have such an unusual health care system, and how has it truly changed since the advent of the Affordable Care Act? 

For answers, we turn to Darden Professor Vivian Riefberg, who holds the David C. Walentas Jefferson Scholars Chair. Riefberg spent more than three decades at McKinsey & Co., holding senior leadership positions including head of the public sector practice for the Americas and co-leader of the U.S. health care practice. Her health care work spanned issues of strategy, organization and operations in the private, public and non-profit sectors. Riefberg recently spoke on a number of health care-related topics, including the Affordable Care Act and the government’s response to COVID-19. 

We frequently hear that health care in the U.S. costs the most in the world while outcomes tend to be somewhere in the middle. What are the primary drivers of this disconnect? 

There are a range of things that drive up our costs in the United States. Among the drivers of this disconnect are high rates of obesity, high degrees of variability in health care treatment, a payment system that, while changing toward value,  still rewards volume. And while the amount an individual pays has gone up dramatically, there are still agency issues — that is, much of the costs are paid by other third parties — the government and employers. Also, we have a mindset toward “more is better” and not enough direct links between safety, efficacy and economics.  

We have among the most obese — if not the most obese — populations in the world, and obesity is linked to a wide variety of health issues including cancer, which in turn drives up health costs.  If we want to address health care cost we must address obesity. 

The amount of variability in treatment is astonishingly high. We would never allow that variability in the safety maintenance of our airplanes, but we allow massive variability in the guise of “the doctor knows best.” We resist well-regarded checklists and standardizing protocols. We allow, in my mind, unexplained variability to go on in the system. 

We have a long history of rewarding volume and payment on a fee-for-service basis. Right now, there are many actions driving us toward a new system of pay-for-value, but the transition to that approach is just really getting going.  This is particularly important for all forms of outpatient care, which has been growing the fastest. 

And, we have a long history of not wanting to put any form of economic considerations into our regulatory systems. For example, many other countries include economics in their approval of a new drug or device. We have a focus exclusively on safety and efficacy without regard to price or economic impact. Therefore, while we do often get access to drugs when they are first are made available; we are often paying the highest prices in the world for those drugs and products. 

Although I could go on, the last things I would mention is an individual’s role in the system. Today, there is often a mindset in America that “more is better.” There are cases where more is clearly not better, and yet we pay for that “more is better” mentality. While the out-of-pocket payments in the forms of co-insurance, co-pays and deductibles has been growing massively and impacting individual’s choices, government and employers still pay a lot of the costs for decisions on activity over which they have very little influence. 

Health care was a key topic in the U.S. presidential election before the COVID-crisis. Do you think the last 7 months have done anything to shift the narrative around health care? 

I think a few narratives have started to gain some traction that were not as highly and broadly visible as before. 

First, understanding of what preexisting conditions means has been around at least a decade since the debate on the Affordable Care Act.  But the importance of this issue — both for how it impacts outcomes for COVID, as well as how it might be impacted by future government decisions — has been heightened.

Secondly, the fact that there are broader social reasons for the circumstances that people find themselves in, health care-wise — what we call the social determinants of health — is now part of the conversation. That concept was discussed by health care professionals, social workers and academics, but the disparities that we see was not a widely appreciated situation. In the context of COVID-19 and the focus on social justice, the issues of disparities have started to gain some important strength. 

The third item is mental health and overall well-being. We still have in this country a crisis of coverage, care and ability to address mental health needs. This is true for everyone, including our health care providers at every level who are under particular strain in the COVID-19 world. 

Finally, whether they love or hate our health care system, I think people have come to appreciate just how fragmented our health care system is and that the structure matters. Right now, there are communities whose hospitals are overwhelmed and ICU beds are not available, and there are differences in how each individual is able to access care and treatments. We will see this fragmentation issue going forward when it comes to distributing a vaccine for COVID-19. We will have to make all parts of this fragmented system work together. 

How did the advent of the affordable care act shift the nature of the industry in the U.S.? 

One of the most important things it did is diminish penalizing people for their underlying condition or preexisting conditions. It also provided an option for people whose income did not qualify for Medicaid and did not have employer-based health insurance. And, between the marketplace or exchange and the Medicaid expansion in many states, it massively expanded the number of people who got coverage. 

It also ushered in a lot of innovation through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation with value-based payments. There was more innovation around value-based payments and more questioning of the fee-for-service model. And that seems to have remained bipartisan — and I hope will remain so. 

The ACA is once again before the Supreme Court. If the law is struck down, do you have a sense of the immediate impact in the United States? 

It depends on what you believe would be the alternative and whether you believe the law can be struck down in pieces  — that is, it is severable —  or would be struck down overall. I think many people forget the impact this law has had. Let me run through some examples: 

  1. Roughly half the population under the age of 65 have preexisting conditions, so they could see their coverage going away or could be paying substantially more. That’s one aspect.
  2. Millions of people who buy insurance through the marketplace or as a result of Medicaid expansion, most would be at real risk of being uninsured, as states could not fund the subsidies that are provided by the federal government.
  3. The opioid epidemic would also be impacted. There are about 800,000 people getting treatment through Medicaid for opioids. The ramification of loss of coverage for those people could be substantial not only on themselves, but on their communities.
  4. Lifetime limits on out-of-pockets costs could go away. There used to be limits on how much employers would pay over the course of a year or the course of a lifetime. While there could be companies who put in lifetime limits, we don’t know what would happen there.
  5. Children staying on their parents insurance until 26 — I have two children who benefit from this. This could go away.
  6. Even rules for calorie labeling — getting back to concerns about obesity — could be impacted. 

So some key questions:  Can the court take the whole thing down or a piece of it down?  If you take a piece of it down, is that a vicious circle for the Affordable Care Act or is it okay being severed? Then, how would it work? These are just some of the open questions. 

You co-teach a course on managing through COVID-19. Can you summarize the lessons? 

Leadership matters. Leadership matters. Leadership matters. That is lesson one, two and three. 

Lesson Four:  Getting the economy to recover is linked to ensuring people feel safe and their health care needs are addressed. The economic crisis is public health driven. 

Lesson Five:  Many elements of uncertainty can be bounded, and thus allow people and organizations to continue to make decisions and not be paralyzed. 

Finally, we can impact our destiny. I visited a very moving memorial that the mother of one of our full-time students has put up in Washington, D.C.   

It reminds me that while we are not New Zealand — we don’t have a small population and we’re not an island — but we did not have to have this outcome in the U.S. and leaders in every community can help shape our future.

 (By University of Virginia Darden School of Business)

Vegan Matcha Ice cream W/ Black Sesame Brittle

This pretty looking ice cream is totally dairy free and loaded with antioxidants. It’s thus a very healthy sweet treat that wouldn’t trouble your gut. Unlike store bought vegan frozen desserts, this ice cream is made from whole foods and thus no adulterants or over food processing is done. Do give it a try and thank me later! How I developed this recipe- As I have already mentioned in my previous posts, being lactose intolerant myself I have felt bad whenever I get occasional cravings for ice creams. I have tried different ways to fix this by trying out different store bought vegan ice creams, but sadly most of them were more processed than the dairy ones and hence bad for gut. It’s that what made me try vegan ice cream recipes following cook books and recipes from google and only a few healthy ones turned out good. I still had to work on scoopability and creaminess of the ice cream and I guarantee you that this recipe here is a winner! What’s special about the recipe- Super healthy & high protein-Apart from the main flavours of superfoods matcha and black sesame in this ice cream, this one is higher in protein with the addition of lots of cashews and coconut cream. This combination helps in the scoopability, creaminess and adds great flavour to the ice cream. And another great thing about this is it’s refined sugar free. Easy & yummy- Unlike most of the vegan ice creams out there, especially the healthier ones, this recipe is a perfect balance of flavour, consistency and has no weird aftertaste. What you’ll need- 1 cup cashew nuts, soaked overnight in water1 cup coconut cream 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 cup hot water Half cup +1/4 cup brown sugar 2 tablespoons fine matcha powder3 tablespoons black sesame How to make- First, to make the black sesame brittle, heat 1/4 cup brown sugar under low flame in a sauce pan and add the sesame seeds when the sugar is fully melted. Turn off the heat when the sugar reaches sticky caramel consistency. Pour onto a greased tray and flatten it out so that it cools down to a breakable brittle mass. Mix the hot water with half cup brown sugar and stir it slowly under low flame just to the point when the sugar has completely dissolved. Turn off the heat and let it cool. Add the cooled down sugar mixture, vanilla, coconut cream, cashews and matcha to a blender/mixer jar and process it on medium power until it becomes fluffy and creamy with no lumps or bits of cashews left. Chill this in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Break your brittle mass into small bits.Churn it in your ice cream maker for 15 minutes and fold in the brittle bits.Transfer this into your ice cream tub and sprinkle some sesame brittle bits on top.Freeze it for ~1-2 hours- until ready to scoop out and serve. Notes, Tips and Suggestions . You could create your own favourite flavours of ice cream by omitting matcha and adding in other substitutes like strawberry compote, chocolate etc. But I highly recommend you to try this flavour! . The consistency of the ice cream depends on the cashews and coconut milk. So make sure you follow the ratios right.

South Asian Diaspora Rally Together To Elect Biden-Harris

It was 14 December, 2012, when news broke of a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.  Indian-American investment banker Shekar Narasimhan recalls that he was at the White House for a party but the mood quickly turned sombre. He says everyone fell silent as details of the horrific attack emerged – 20 children, all under the age of 10, and six adults died in the shooting.

It was also on that day that Mr Narasimhan first met Dilawar Syed, a Pakistani American. “Our hearts met,” said Mr Syed, a tech entrepreneur in California. “I found one person in the room who happened to be a fellow South-Asian American who was as emotional as I was.”

The two soon became close, co-founding the Asian American and Pacific Islanders Victory Fund (AAPIVF), a group that aims to mobilise and elevate voices from these communities in local and national politics. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders account for more than 20 million people in the US, but their voter registration and turnout is said to be lower than the national averages for other communities.

And this is something Mr Syed and Mr Narasimhan hope to change through their organisation.

Indians and Pakistanis are often seen as being at loggerheads because of strained relations between their respective countries. But in the US, the two communities are part of the same South Asian diaspora and often work together during political campaigns.

“He [Mr Syed] has access to different networks that I didn’t,” said Mr Narasimhan, explaining that he wanted to work with Mr Syed precisely because he hailed from a different community and lives in another part of the US.

Their group endorsed Democratic candidate Joe Biden for presidency in January. The two men believe that Mr Biden’s victory will lead to a “more equal, just” America.

Indians and Pakistanis have a lot in common – some of them speak a similar language, northern Indian and Pakistani food shares a history, and both countries are passionate about cricket and enjoy Bollywood. But Mr Syed said that wasn’t the only thing that brought them together: “Our values are the same.”

Rallying together

India and Pakistan also share a complicated and contentious history. Independence from the British in 1947 was accompanied by a bloody partition of the subcontinent. Millions died in the religious violence that followed.

Since then, the nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two wars and a limited conflict over Kashmir. Both countries claim the Muslim-majority border region, which remains the biggest bone of contention between them.  But Mr Narasimhan and Mr Syed don’t discuss Kashmir.

“We try and avoid it. We say to each other, look, this election is about domestic issues,” Mr Narasimhan said. Many Indian and Pakistani Americans say thorny issues back home haven’t soured their ties in the US.

Mr Narasimhan said the two communities are far more concerned about issues that directly affect their everyday lives – and that for their children, who were born and raised in the US, the India-Pakistan dispute is not a a big factor.

“My son says what happened 50 or 60 years ago in India and Pakistan, what does that have to do with me?” Mr Narasimhan added.

When it comes to first-generation Pakistani Americans, 9/11 and its aftermath stand out – Mr Syed said it shaped a lot of their experiences in the US. The 11 September attacks led to hate crimes, threats against Muslims, Sikhs and people of Arab and South Asian descent.

Critics of President Donald Trump say that the US has seen an uptick in anti-minority and xenophobic rhetoric since his victory. Mr Syed agrees, adding that Mr Trump is responsible for “a rise in hate, bigotry and anti-immigration sentiment”.

“[With] the events especially in the Trump administration, I did put my faith on my sleeve. I said I want people to know this is what a Muslim American looks like.”

‘What affects us is local’

The Pakistani-American community is nearly a million strong, while Indian Americans are said to total around 4.5 million. Both tend to lean Democratic. According to a 2016 survey, 88% of Pakistani Americans and 77% of Indian Americans voted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton last election. Only 5% of the former and 16% of the latter voted for Mr Trump, the survey found.

This year members of both diaspora are working together to rally support for the candidate of their choice – not just for the presidential election but also for the Senate and Congressional seats that are on the ticket.

Indian American Manu Mathews and his Pakistani American friend, Rao Kamran Ali, have been rallying support for their local Democratic candidate, Candace Valenzuela, to represent their congressional district in Texas.

“We try and avoid conversations we know we are not going to agree on,” Mr Mathew said, referring to tensions between India and Pakistan.

It’s the same on the Republican side. India-born realtor Raj Kathuria and Pakistani American Shahab Qarni are friends who live 20 minutes from each other. They have both been campaigning online for Mr Trump.

For Mr Kathuria, whose parents migrated from a newly-created Pakistan to India during partition, issues or tensions between the two countries are important and personal. But at the same time, he says, it doesn’t affect his life in the US. “What affects us is the local politics,” he added.

It’s unclear which way Pakistani Americans are leaning, but over 70% of Indian Americans plan to vote for Mr Biden in the upcoming election, according to the 2020 Indian American Attitudes survey. This suggests that the community will largely vote Democrat as always.

This is despite the headline-grabbing friendship between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr Trump. Last year in September, they appeared together in Houston at an event named “Howdy Modi”, where Mr Trump declared: “You have never had a better friend as president than President Donald Trump”.

And in February, Mr Trump visited India, where he addressed a crowd of over 100,000 in Mr Modi’s home state of Gujarat.

But according to the survey, Indian Americans “do not consider US-India relations to be one of the principal determinants of their vote choice in this election”. Instead, like many other Americans, they view the economy and healthcare as the two most important issues.

(Source: By Vineet Khare , BBC News, Washington DC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

China Is Talking Point At High-Level Indo-US Meet

Coming at a sensitive time with the US Presidential election just a week away and while India is still entangled in border tensions with China, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and secretary of defense Mark Esper arrived in New Delhi on Monday for the Indo-US 2+2 talks, expected to focus on the Indo-Pacific security and the threat posed by China.

Pompeo’s pit stops in Asia include Indian-Ocean nations of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and Indonesia, which is in a dispute with China in the South China Sea. Also, next month India hosts the Malabar naval exercise, which would see the forces of all Quad nations — US, India, Japan and Australia — participate for the first time in 13 years.

Security cooperation between India and the US would be on the agenda too. The two countries have made significant progress towards concluding the last foundational defence cooperation agreement, the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement, the Times of India reports. The agreement will allow for expanded geospatial information sharing between the armed forces of the two countries.

The upcoming presidential election in the US is not expected to cast a shadow over the talks since both the Democrats and Republicans emphasise close relations with India. Some even argue Donald Trump’s challenger Joe Biden would be better for India. (Related news: Biden slammed Trump for his “filthy” air comment on India)

Pompeo could assuage India’s concerns over the new sanctions on Iran affecting New Delhi’s interest, specifically the Chabahar port. The Trump administration has informed New Delhi that sale of agricultural commodities, food, medicine and medical devices to Iran, is permitted, the Indian Express reports. Waivers granted for reconstruction and development of Afghanistan, too, remain valid. This holds significance as India sees Chabahar — despite the slow progress — as a reliable gateway to Afghanistan.

Despite a firestorm of positive signals fired off by officials from both sides in an attempt to lighten the atmosphere before this year’s ministerial meeting, such as the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA), Chinese observers pointed out that even upgraded military cooperation with the US will not put India on the same level to confront China, nor will it change the fact that Washington and New Delhi always have their own interests at heart. It will not determine how long the India-US honeymoon will last.  

It is significant that during Prime Minister Modi and President Obama’s final meeting in the White House in 2016, the United States elevates India to a major defense partner, a status no other country holds. An expansion of the ten-year defense agreement renewed in 2015, the designation, which became law in August 2018, means that India will enjoy some of the benefits of being a U.S. treaty ally, such as access to defense technology, though the alliance is not a formal one. In a speech before Congress a day later, Modi celebrated his country’s growing diplomatic and economic ties with the United States. Two months later, the United States and India signed an agreement on deeper military cooperation after nearly a decade of negotiations.

In 2018, during a “two-plus-two” dialogue in New Delhi, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis sign an agreement with Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) gives India access to advanced communication technology used in U.S. defense equipment and allows real-time information sharing between the two countries’ militaries. The agreement had been under negotiation for nearly a decade.

1 week Before Final Voting, Biden Leads Trump By 10%

 Former Vice President Joe Biden has a 10-point lead over President Donald Trump in the contest for the White House in a new national poll of likely voters released today by the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion.

Including the minor party candidates on the ballot, Biden leads with 53 percent of likely voters, Trump has 43 percent, other candidates are at 2 percent and only 3 percent of likely voters say they are still undecided, according to the independent, nonpartisan poll.

The relatively low number of undecided voters is underscored by the fact that 16 percent of likely voters have already voted. Just over two-thirds of voters said they plan to eschew their traditional Election Day polling place in 2020 and either vote by mail (45 percent) or vote early in person (22 percent).

“Biden’s double-digit lead signals that the president’s hopes of re-election are dwindling, with less than three weeks until Election Day and many voters already voting early and by mail,” said Joshua Dyck, director of the Center for Public Opinion and associate professor of political science.

Biden leads Trump among voters with a college degree, 62 percent to 36 percent. Among those without a bachelor’s degree, Biden leads 49 percent to Trump’s 46 percent. However, among white respondents without a degree, Trump leads Biden 61 percent to 36 percent, while Biden leads Trump among whites with a college degree 60 percent to 38 percent.

The gender gap revealed in this poll is on par with historic averages from the 2012 and 2016 elections in the difference between male and female voters’ support for Democratic candidates. In this poll, Biden does about 10 points better among women than men, leading 57 percent to 38 percent among women who are likely voters and 49 percent to 48 percent among men likely voters.

While Trump trails Biden by double digits nationally, his approval rating has not undergone a precipitous decline, which has hovered between an average of 40 and 45 percent nationally for most of the last three years. Overall, 44 percent of likely voters approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president and 56 percent disapprove. But nearly half of the electorate (47 percent of likely voters) say they strongly disapprove of the way the president has handled his job.

Because there’s no corresponding job approval rating for Biden, the point of comparison for the candidates is favorability rating. In 2016, both candidates – Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – had net negative approval ratings in polling averages heading into the election. In 2020, the pattern is different: Trump continues to have a net negative favorability rating of -13; 42 percent find him favorable, 55 percent unfavorable and 3 percent have no opinion. Biden, however, is net positive +9; 50 percent find him favorable, 41 percent unfavorable and 9 percent have no opinion. Clinton is still net negative at -17 (35 percent favorable, 52 percent unfavorable, 12 percent no opinion), which indicates that Democrats have a much more popular nominee in 2020.

With Trump’s coronavirus-positive diagnosis on Oct. 2, the campaign became fully focused once again on the president’s handling of COVID-19. Overall, a majority of likely voters polled (57 percent) are not satisfied with the way the federal government has handled the pandemic, compared to 43 percent who said they are satisfied. This stands in stark contrast to state governments that get much higher marks: 59 percent of Americans said they are satisfied with their state government’s response compared to 41 percent who said they are unsatisfied.

Asked who they trust more to handle COVID-19, 52 percent of likely voters say Biden compared to 36 percent of likely voters who said Trump. On the question of whether Trump could have avoided contracting COVID-19 by wearing a mask more often, 71 percent of likely voters said yes while 29 percent said no.

“With the total American dead from the virus approaching a quarter-million by Election Day, voters are frustrated by Trump’s response to the virus, both personally and as president. Unfortunately for the president, there’s no miracle cure for his dismal poll numbers on the pandemic,” said John Cluverius, associate director of the Center for Public Opinion and assistant professor of political science.

The poll of likely voters also found:

With Supreme Court hearings taking place this week, nominee Amy Coney Barrett has a -1 net negative favorability rating among likely voters – 31 percent favorable, 32 percent unfavorable, 25 percent no opinion and 12 percent never heard of her.

Asked who they think will win the 2020 presidential election, likely voters gave Biden the edge: 45 percent said Biden will win and 41 percent said Trump will win.

Asked about a hypothetical alternative matchup, Biden leads Pence 54 percent to 41 percent with 4 percent undecided. Harris leads Pence 50 percent to 43 percent with 6 percent undecided.

Just 30 percent of Americans think things are headed in the right direction, while 70 percent say things are on the wrong track.

On Trump’s signature issue, the economy, 47 percent said Biden is better suited to handle the economy, compared to 42 percent who said Trump.

On who best represents American values, Biden leads Trump 48 percent to 37 percent. Biden also leads Trump on who is a more devout Christian, 39 percent to 29 percent. Asked who is more of a good man, 50 percent said Biden compared to 31 percent who said Trump.

More respondents said Biden would be better suited to handle race relations, 49 percent to 34 percent for Trump and more feel Biden is more honest and trustworthy, 49 percent to 32 percent for Trump.

On who will better handle America’s reputation abroad, Biden leads 51 percent to 37 percent for Trump. On who is better suited to handle police reform, 46 percent said Biden and 38 percent said Trump. Fifty-one percent said Biden is more suited to handling health care compared to 35 percent who said Trump.

Trump leads Biden on only two metrics on which respondents were polled: who is more of a bully (67 percent said Trump vs. 16 percent who said Biden) and who is more corrupt (50 percent said Trump compared to 34 percent who said Biden).


The nonpartisan poll of 819 likely voters was independently funded by the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The Center for Public Opinion presents events and polling on political and social issues to provide opportunities for civic engagement, experiential learning and real-world research. The center is a member of the American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) Transparency Initiative.

The survey was designed and analyzed by the Center for Public Opinion and fielded by YouGov from Oct. 5 through Oct. 12. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent. Detailed poll results – including topline and full methodology – are available at http://www.uml.edu/polls.

UMass Lowell is a national research university offering its more than 18,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be leaders in their communities and around the globe.

Remdesivir Is the First FDA-Approved Treatment for COVID-19

On Oct. 22, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first drug for treating COVID-19. Remdesivir, an antiviral medication given intravenously, is now approved for anyone hospitalized with COVID-19. It works by blocking the virus’s ability to make more copies of itself. Earlier this year, the drug had received emergency use authorization (EUA), which falls short of approval but is granted during a public health crisis if there is encouraging data supporting its potential benefits. Approval means the drug’s maker, Gilead, provided more information to the FDA on the medication’s effectiveness and safety than was used to issue the EUA.

“This decision by the FDA is a milestone in the treatment of hospitalized patients with COVID-19,” says Dr. Andre Kalil, professor of internal medicine at University of Nebraska Medical Center who was among the first to treat patients from the Diamond Princess Cruise ship with remdesivir and runs one of the drug’s clinical trials. “Remdesivir shortens the recovery time by 5-7 days, provides 50% faster clinical improvement, prevents patients’ progression to mechanical ventilation, and is associated with a 45% mortality reduction in the first two weeks of disease. These are real and meaningful benefits to our patients.”

The FDA decision is based on three randomized controlled trials that found that people receiving remdesivir shortened their recovery time. While the data did not find a statistically significant benefit in reducing mortality, doctors involved in one of the studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), reported a trend toward reduced mortality after about a month, especially among people who received the drug early in their infection, as Kalil notes. Patients receiving the drug also needed less additional oxygen and were less likely to progress to severe disease compared to those receiving placebo. The NEJM study was placebo-controlled and supported by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The other two studies, sponsored by Gilead, did not include placebo controls, but compared patients receiving the drug and standard of care to those getting standard of care alone. The drug was effective, and those receiving five days of remdesivir treatment improved as much as those receiving a 10-day course.

The National Institutes of Health now includes remdesivir as part of its recommended treatment strategy for hospitalized COVID-19 patients, and doctors treating patients have said that the drug is one of the reasons that death rates from the disease may have started to drop since the beginning of the pandemic. Other medications and treatment strategies, such as anti-inflammatories and keeping patients on their stomachs to prevent worsening respiratory symptoms, are other likely contributors to the decline in death rates.

The FDA approval comes days after a study from the World Health Organization found no benefit of the drug in reducing early death or in preventing progression to serious disease among nearly 3000 COVID-19 patients. That study, however, did not include a placebo control and compared outcomes to standard of care. It’s also not clear how sick the patients in that study were and therefore how meaningful the results are.

The NEJM study included hints that people who receive the drug earlier in their disease may benefit more, and doctors are already studying whether people with mild symptoms but who don’t need to be hospitalized can be treated with remdesivir on an outpatient basis.

Cyber Attack on Vaccines

Indian drugmaker Dr Reddy’s, which is to run clinical trials of Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine, said it has isolated all its data centres in the wake of a cyber-attack. “We are anticipating all services to be up within 24 hours and we do not foresee any major impact on our operations due to this incident,” the company said in a statement.

Business news channel ET Now, citing sources, said the company has shut all key plants across the globe due to the data breach. The plants in the UK, US, Brazil, India and Russia have been impacted due to the breach.

It is not yet known if the attack was related to Dr Reddy’s work on Covid-19. Beside the trial of the Russian vaccine, the drugmaker also has tie-ups with global firms to sell coronavirus treatments remdesivir and favipiravir in India.

Cyber-attacks to steal proprietary information is not rare. Early in July, security agencies of the United States, United Kingdom and Canada said a Russia-linked hacking group is targeting universities involved in the Covid-19 vaccine research. The same month, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), India’s nodal cybersecurity agency, said Indian healthcare services and educational institutions have faced increased cyber-attacks from China and Pakistan since the nationwide lockdown in mid-march.

COVID Vaccination Best for the Older Adults

The Covid-19 vaccine candidate developed by the Oxford University and AstraZeneca has prompted a robust immune response in elderly people, the Financial Times reported, citing people familiar with the findings. The observations are from the so-called immunogenicity blood tests done on a subset of older participants of the trial. Oxford has not officially commented on the report.

A safe and effective vaccine for the elderly is crucial to beat the pandemic as they are among the most at-risk population. But the fact that the immune system weakens with age, raises fears that the very group that most needs the protection may generate the least effective response against a vaccine.

“If what they have is data which shows that the vaccine generates good immunity, as measured in the laboratory, in the overage group — plus 55-year-old — and that also includes good responses in people who are even older than that, I think that’s a promising sign,” Jonathan Ball, professor of virology at the University of Nottingham, said.

Another candidate to have shown promise among the elderly is the mRNA vaccine developed by Moderna, though that too is a preliminary finding. Russia’s Gamaleya Institute has also claimed that its Sputnik V is effective on the elderly but the claim has not been independently reviewed.

The FT report comes shortly after Oxford-AstraZeneca received clearance from the US FDA to restart its trial in the country after pausing it due to potential safety concern — a volunteer in the UK trial had fallen ill.

“The restart of clinical trials across the world is great news as it allows us to continue our efforts to develop this vaccine to help defeat this terrible pandemic,” Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca’s CEO, said in a statement. The US trial of the vaccine candidate developed by Johnson & Johnson, too, is set to resume after a brief pause.

You can come to India for family or business, but not for pleasure The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday came out with a notification permitting “all OCI and PIO card holders and all other foreign nationals intending to visit India for any purpose, except on a tourist visa“.

Announcing the “graded relaxation”, the MHA will “restore with immediate effect all existing visas (except electronic visa, Tourist Visa and Medical Visa)” — for visas that may have expired, fresh visas will be issued while for medical visa, foreign nationals need to apply afresh.

The Centre had on March 11 suspended all visas, with relaxation being granted in June for “foreign businessmen coming to India on a Business visa” and those coming for purposes of work.

It may be recalled that hotels were allowed to reopen only in August while tourist sites like the Taj Mahal were reopened last month. Though foreign tourists constitute just 0.5% of all tourists — India received 10.89 million foreign tourists in 2019 — the country earned almost Rs 2.11 lakh crore as forex from them last year.

Republican Senators Confirm Amy Coney Barrett To The Supreme Court

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shanghai spending big to build the new ‘Silicon Valley’

New Lingang Area, which aims to be a global innovation district, houses Tesla factories that will build electric vehicles and the world’s biggest planetarium; it will be an industrial base for production of integrated circuits and semiconductors, officials say. (ATF) Officials in Shanghai have announced they are investing billions of yuan into building a ‘new Silicon Valley’ set-up, full of companies in emerging industries.

“Over the past year, more than half of 78 policy tasks have been completed; high-end resource elements have accelerated the grouping of Lingang New Area, involving a total investment of more than 270 billion yuan (over US$40.4 billion),” the deputy secretary-general of Shanghai Municipal Government and secretary of the Party Working Committee of Lingang New Area, said.

Known as the Shanghai Lingang New Area, this will be a national rival to similar areas in Beijing and Shenzhen, as well as global innovation centers. Emerging industries have already migrated to the area, while institutional innovations have also set up shop. According to ce.cn this will be a new business district like Lujiazui. Lujiazui is the area of skyscrapers that make up the famous Shanghai skyline.

The Shanghai Lingang New Area is next to the Dishui Lake – an ancient scenic area in the neighbouring city of Suzhou, which is slowly becoming part of the large growing Shanghai metropolis. The area is famous for being the home of ancient scholars. Suzhou is essentially becoming a suburb of Shanghai, only a few minutes away by high-speed train.

Zhu Zhisong, executive deputy director of the management committee, said in an interview with ce.cn: “We have two small goals: one is to invest 200 billion yuan in frontier science and technology industries by the end of this year. The other is to build meeting the needs of modern urban functioning construction.

“We strive to achieve 200 billion yuan in projects started by the end of the year, and make greater contributions to the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta.

“Our production line is very sensitive to vibration (from traffic), so the requirements for the production environment are very high, so as to ensure continuous operation of the equipment,” Zhu added.

Semiconductor production line 

Shanghai Jita Semiconductor Co Ltd will be based in the new area. CEO Yin Buhua told reporters that according to the plan, the first phase of project plans is to build a 0.11μm/0.13μm/0.18μm (micron)-process production lines with a monthly capacity of 60,000 8-inch wafers. All kinds of production lines will achieve full mass production this year. It plans to expand the 12-inch special-process production line to a monthly production capacity of 50,000 pieces. 

“Our chips are used in automotive electronics, rail transit, smart grid and other fields. After full production, it will become a leading domestic automotive-grade semiconductor production line,” Yin Buhua said.

Wu Qunfeng, director of the Risk Prevention Division, said that the Lingang New Area has signed contracts and plans to implement integrated-circuit projects in the near future with a total investment of nearly 160 billion yuan ($24 billion).

It will build a national integrated-circuit industrial base, with a full supply chain. He said it will be known as the ‘Eastern Core Port,’ and will include aircraft facilities.

Aircraft Park

One portion of the area will be known as the ‘Big Aircraft Park’ to promote the convergence of aviation manufacturing and aviation services, develop final assembly delivery, key facilities, production support, technology research and development, aviation culture and tourism and other industrial fields, and cultivate a world-class aviation industry cluster.

In August this year, the “Lingang New Area Innovative Industry Plan” was released. The industrial development of the new area must not only improve the “quantity”, but also achieve a breakthrough in the “quality” of such zones, officials announced.

On September 7 this year, the commercial entity registration confirmation system was officially implemented in the Lingang New Area Industry-City Integration Zone. It has a range of approximately 386 square kilometres. 

As early as last year, this policy was written into the overall plan of the Lingang New Area; in March this year, after the inauguration of the Lingang New Area Market Supervision and Administration Bureau, it was clearly proposed that the reform of the registration confirmation system for commercial entities would be promoted in a coordinated manner. 

Now that the policy has been implemented, many entrepreneurs have begun setting up shop. “Lingang is becoming more and more like a complete city,” the general manager of Shanghai CRRC Essendi Marine Equipment Co Ltd said.

The world’s most famous and creative high-tech hub is Silicon Valley, in the southern San Francisco Bay Area of California, which has been the home of many start-ups and global technology companies, such as Apple, Facebook and Google. Whether Lingang New Area can match this in any way, only time will tell. But local officials certainly appear to share that ambition.

The power of digital currencies

Central banks in Europe and elsewhere are finally waking up to the risks that fintech innovations, such as digital currencies and stablecoins, could pose to the traditional banking system and financial stability if they become popular.

With an ever increasing need  in reducing morbidity and mortality due to heart attacks and strokes, especially among Indians and  Indian Americans, the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) and the American Heart Association (AHA) joined hands together for the first time for a Global Initiat (ATF) With a clear eye on China, the European Central Bank has sounded the alarm that Europe could lose its very sovereignty, not just its economic autonomy, if it fails to develop a digital euro. The warning is a reminder of how much is at stake politically in the global race for new electronic forms of central bank money. 

In a recent report on the pros and cons of a digital euro, the ECB doesn’t actually name China. It doesn’t need to. The Federal Reserve is still studying whether to issue a central bank digital currency (CBDC) while Japan has no immediate plan to do so. China, by contrast, is already conducting advanced trials of its Digital Currency /Electronic Payment (DE/EP). 

The ECB says it is examining the idea primarily because people are abandoning cash in favour of fast electronic payments. “It’s simply a matter of making our currency fit for the digital age,” said ECB President Christine Lagarde said when asked by French newspaper Le Monde whether the ECB was mounting a geopolitical response to the emergence of the digital yuan.

That is no doubt true. Central bankers are finally waking up to the risks that fintech innovations pose for the traditional banking system and hence for financial stability. They are also aghast that Facebook’s proposed Libra stablecoin might threaten their monetary monopoly.

But the concerns of the ECB – and of Europe’s politicians – go wider.

Concern over digital currencies

The report notes that if foreign central banks made their digital currencies available outside their jurisdictions, European citizens could switch out of the euro and foreign exchange risk in the euro area would increase. At the same time, instruments like Libra not denominated in euro could become widely used for European retail payments. 

“Such developments would foster innovation but could also threaten European financial, economic and, ultimately, political sovereignty,” the ECB says.

This is strong stuff from a central bank. As Philip Middleton and Alastair Ryan put it in a report for BoA Securities: “We can see why a central bank would not particularly fancy this. If European payments were to be dominated by Mark Zuckerberg and Xi Jinping, the ability of the ECB to influence the Eurozone economy would be severely constrained.” 

The EU has been half-hearted in the past about deploying the euro as an instrument of political power. The dollar towers over the single currency by every measure, from its share in global central bank reserves to its use in trade invoicing and international bond issuance. 

But the ECB report sums up how attitudes are changing: “Euro area leaders recently stressed that a strong international role of the euro is an important factor in reinforcing European economic autonomy.”

Wide acceptance of a means of payment or store of value not denominated in euro could impair the transmission of monetary policy in the euro area and could ultimately affect financial stability, the ECB explains.

‘Digital euro could support sovereignty, stability’

“In such circumstances, issuance of a digital euro could support European sovereignty and stability, in particular in the monetary and financial dimensions,” it says. That word ‘sovereignty’ again.

In case the political motive was still unclear, the report says a cutting-edge digital currency would “preserve the global reputation of the euro” and support its international role.

In a narrow sense, the ECB is worried that widespread use of foreign CBDCs in the euro area would curtail its room for monetary manoeuvre. ECB researchers Massimo Minesso Ferrari, Arnaud Mehi and Livio Stracca posit that it would need to react twice as much to inflation and output in the presence of a CBDC.

But it is left to the less diplomatic Australian Strategic Policy Institute to spell out the geopolitical prizes that China’s DC/EP could deliver for the Communist party, which has a stated aim of challenging the dollar’s global supremacy. 

“DC/EP intersects with China’s ambitions to shape global technological and financial standards, for example, through the promotion of RMB internationalisation and fintech standards-setting along sites of the Belt and Road Initiative,” the ASPI said in a report.

Alternative to SWIFT?

In the long term, a successful DC/EP could therefore greatly expand the party-state’s ability to mould economic behaviour well beyond China’s borders. For one thing, it could serve as an alternative to SWIFT, a secure financial messaging service at the core of the global banking system.

Because it has access to SWIFT communications on national security grounds, the US is able to extend the territorial reach of its laws – a source of deep concern to China and many other countries, especially those under international sanctions, such as Iran. 

If it could provide a functional alternative to the dollar settlement system, DC/EP would blunt the impact of any sanctions or threats of exclusion both at a country and company level, the ASPI argued.

China thus has a powerful incentive to blaze the digital currency trail. It is well ahead of its rivals. Not until this month did a clutch of leading central banks – but not the People’s Bank of China – agree on what the main features of a CBDC should be.

For its part, the ECB won’t decide until mid-2021 whether even to formally investigate a digital euro project. “The primary motivation is not that others are ahead,” said Fabio Panetta, an ECB Executive Board member who oversaw the ECB’s exploratory report

Risk of bank runs, CBDC costs, volatile capital flows

Indeed, the report is laced with warnings about the potential drawbacks of a CBDC. For instance, euro area citizens could swap their commercial bank deposits for central bank money, undermining the banking system and increasing the risk of bank runs. (This is a reservation shared, incidentally, by BoA’s analysts, who are very wary of the policy costs of running a CBDC.)

The report also speaks of the need to discourage excessive use of the digital euro as an investment to reduce the risk of attracting huge international investment flows: “The design of the digital euro should include specific conditions for access and use by non-euro area residents, to ensure that it does not contribute to excessively volatile capital flows or exchange rates.”

These words of caution may be warranted, but they hardly constitute a ringing call for the euro to sally forth, dethrone the dollar and nip the yuan’s challenge in the bud. 

But they will be music to the ears of Chinese policymakers, who are fully aware of the power of currencies. They also know from their own history the advantage of moving first when it comes to currencies. After all, in the 7th century it was China that was the first to use paper money.

(Alan Wheatley is an associate fellow at Chatham House, the London think-tank. He was formerly the global economics correspondent and China economics editor for Reuters.)

NASA Found More Water On the Moon

The permanently shadowed craters at the moon’s south pole are both the first and last place lunar astronauts would want to spend their time. The appeal is that they have generous deposits of water ice, a critical resource for any potential lunar base (ice means drinking water, yes, but it also means oxygen that can be used for synthesizing atmosphere and hydrogen for rocket fuel). But then there’s that business of the permanent shadows. It gets awfully cold on an airless body if there’s no sunlight—about -250º C (-418º F), in this case—and working in permanent darkness is no easy business, either.

It would be a lot handier if there were significant amounts of water on what amounts to the more temperate parts of the moon: the near and far sides where any one spot is brilliantly lit for two full weeks out of every month. Well, good news: NASA announced today that it has discovered water in just such a site: Clavius Crater, located between 50 and 75 degrees latitude in the southern lunar hemisphere on the near side of the moon.

“Water is extremely critical for deep space exploration,” said Jacob Bleacher, NASA’s chief scientist for human exploration and operations, at a Monday press conference. “We know that it exists in some of the darkest and coldest craters, so finding it in places that are easier to reach is very helpful for future exploration.”

The new discovery was made by the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a 2.7 meter (9 ft.) telescope mounted inside a retrofitted Boeing 747, which flies at altitudes of 13,700 m (45,000 ft). That’s above 99.9% of atmospheric water vapor—helpful, as even a little vapor blocks some frequencies, leaving earthbound telescopes blind in certain parts of the infrared spectrum. In this case, widening that frequency aperture revealed a lot.

Observatories have previously detected hydrogen’s chemical fingerprint in the lunar “regolith,” or soil. The assumption was that it was in the form of hydroxyl, which is made of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom—a stable molecule that would naturally form in a regolith where oxygen is also present. It was at least theoretically possible that there were two atoms of hydrogen—meaning H2O, or water—but earth-based telescopes can’t detect that. SOFIA can, and over the course of two years of observations, the NASA team hit the molecular jackpot, finding the precise fingerprint of water scattered across Clavius.

But future astronauts may not be able to get at the newly discovered lunar water so easily. For one thing, it’s scarce—about 100 to 400 parts per million, the equivalent of 0.35 liters (12 oz.) of water in a cubic meter of lunar soil. Moreover, the water molecules are not interacting with one another in ways that would produce a discrete quantity of ice or water. Instead, they are formed by violent collisions of micrometeorites. Those collisions provide the heat to convert hydroxyl molecules to water molecules, but those molecules are then entrained within microscopically small glass beads also created by the collisions.

 “If the water is trapped in glass beads, it might require too much energy to extract it,” said Bleacher. What’s more, once the molecules are freed, they might disperse or be destroyed. “Are we going to be disruptive to the water to the point that we just can’t use it?” asked Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s astrophysics division.

The scarcity of the water and the difficulty of the extraction might simply drive astronauts back to those shadowed craters—which are currently the target spots for NASA’s plans to have Americans back on the moon by 2024, via the Artemis program. But that doesn’t mean the SOFIA findings are merely of academic value. Finding water in one unexpected lunar site means it could well be in plenty of others. Every place it’s detected simply widens the potential footprint for future human exploration—and even, perhaps, settlement.

(Source: TIME.COM)

British Columbia Elects 8 Indo-Canadians to Assembly

Eight Indo-Canadians were elected to the 87-member Assembly of Canada’s British Columbia province. There were 27 Indian-origin candidates in the fray in the elections held on Saturday.

All eight winners belong to the ruling New Democratic Party which secured an absolute majority with 55 seats in the 87-member House.

Three of the Indo-Canadian winners are women.

Noted human rights lawyer Aman Singh created history by becoming the first turbaned Sikh MLA in British Columbia even though the province was the first to elect a Punjabi (Moe Sihota) as an MLA in 1986 and a Sikh (Ujjal Dosanjh) as Premier in 2001.

Singh caused a major upset by beating former journalist Jas Johal of the opposition Liberal Party in Richmond-Queensborough.

Most of Indo-Canadian victories came in the Indian-dominated city of Surrey on the outskirts of Vancouver.

Prominent winners include Labour Minister Harry Bains, Deputy Speaker Raj Chouhan, former minister Jinny Sims and parliamentary secretaries Jagrup Brar and Ravi Kahlon.

Bains retained his seat of Surrey-Newton by beating fellow Punjabi Paul Boparai of the Liberal Party.

Bains, who comes from Hardaspur village near Jalandhar, has won this seat since 2005.

Deputy Speaker Raj Chouhan also retained his seat of Burnaby-Edmonds by beating Tript Atwal of the Liberal Party and Iqbal Parekh of the Green Party. Chouhan came to Canada from Punjab as a student in 1973.

Jagrup Brar of the ruling party also retained his seat of Surrey-Fleetwood by trouncing fellow Punjabi Garry Thind of the Liberal Party.

A former Indian basketball player, Brar has now won this seat five times since 2004.

The fifth Indo-Canadian man to win is Ravi Kahlon of the ruling NDP who beat Almora-born Neema Manral of the Green Party and Jet Sunner (Jatinder) of the Liberal Party.

Among the women winners, Jinny Sims (Joginder Kaur) beat fellow Punjabi Dr Gulzar Cheema in the Surrey-Panorama constituency. Born at Pabwan village near Jalandhar, Sims came to Canada at the age of nine.

Rachna Singh of the ruling party retained her Surrey-Green Timbers seat by beating Dilraj Atwal of the Liberal Party.

Nikki Sharma of the ruling NDP won in Vancouver-Hastings.

Indian-origins make up about 10 per cent of the British Columbia population of five million. (IANS)

AAPI Expresses Grief Over the Passing Away of Dr. Mukul Chandra

(Chicago, IL: October 24th, 2020) (Chicago, IL: October 24th, 2020) “We are deeply saddened and disheartened at the passing away of Dr. Mukul Chandra, a cardiologist and network wellbeing advocate, died on Sunday, October 18th, because of harms brought about by COVID.” Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) said here today. Dr.Chandra passed away peacefully at the Cleveland Clinic in the presence of his family on Sunday, October 18, 2020. Dr. Chandra graduated from MS University in Baroda, India, and completed further trainings at SGPGI Lucknow, India; Hadassah University Hospital Ein Kerem – Jerusalem, Israel; and Emory University, Atlanta. He completed his cardiology fellowship at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Dr. Chandra served as Medical Director of Cardiac Preventive Care and Research at And was the Vice Chair of the Cardiovascular Service Line at Miami Valley Hospital. He also was an Assistant Clinical Professor at Wright State University. He was the recipient of the 2008 AHA Distinguished Achievement Award and the Health Care Hero and Innovator of the Year Award from the Dayton Business Journal. Dr. Dr.Mukul S Chandra is yet another physician of Indian Origin who has succumbed to the deadly virus, after a long battle against COVID-19 and related complications. Dr. Chandra is survived by his wife Arti, son Shubham, and daughter Aayushi. “Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for your tremendous support through last 7 months. Your support through calls, prayers and positive thoughts have provided great comfort to the family and friends through this difficult journey,” the family acknowledged in a report. The family reported that Dr. Chandra died on Sunday from lasting damages following a COVID-19 diagnosis earlier this year. “He was always thinking of the people of Dayton. Their love supported him and carried him, and all of us, through our hardest months,” Shubham said. “Indian American Physicians are bearing the brunt of this pandemic in the US,” said Dr. Sajani Shah, Chair of AAPI BOT. “Not a day goes by without hearing about many of them getting infected with Coronavirus, and several of them fighting for their life, because of their disproportionate share of the population in the Healthcare field. This pandemic is hitting close to home for me and my colleagues,” Dr. Shah added.Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President-Elect of AAPI, pointed to the fact that “The deadly Corona virus has claimed over a million deaths around the world with the US leading the chart with nearly 212,000 deaths. The pandemic has placed the entire healthcare sector, and in particular the Indian American medical fraternity at the frontlines of the fight against the pandemic.” Dr. Priya Khanna, 43, an Indian American nephrologist died in a New Jersey Hospital. Her father Satyendra Khanna (78), a general surgeon was another Indian American who has sacrificed his life while saving the lives of others. Dr. Ajay Lodha, past president of AAPI is battling for his life with complications from the virus. “We have a proud moment, it is (also) a scary moment; it is a mixed feeling, but this virus is a deadly virus” Dr. Ravi Kolli, Vice President of AAPI, describing the situation under which the physicians of Indian Origin serving people infected with the virus. “They tend to work disproportionately in areas that are medically underserved like rural and inner city areas taking on a heavier workload with patients who are more ill. We are definitely in the frontline fighting this deadly battle,” against the coronavirus, Reddy said. “Our Indian American Physicians are down in the trenches in the frontline bravely taking care of the sick,” Dr. Amit Chakrabarty, Secretary of AAPI pointed out.  “Unfortunately, we have had multiple heart-bearing incidents about our physicians that have contracted the disease while performing their duties, several who are on ventilator and in critical condition and some who have succumbed to the disease.   However, undaunted, they continue to perform their duties in this time of national crisis.” Expressing hope, Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Treasurer of AAPI says, “AAPI members continue to donate money for AAPI to provide essential personal protective equipment to areas that are in short supply. Finally, AAPI has provided through various channels, spiritual and motivational guidance to our members and their families.  We are in this together.” There are about 80,000 practicing Indian American physicians who are at the forefront of fighting COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. In addition, there are around 40,000 medical students, residents, and fellows of Indian origin in this country who are supporting many of the hospitals affected by the pandemic. As the family and friends continue to grieve the death of Dr. Mukul Chandra, we are hearing from one of his friends. In a statement, Premier Health said in part, “He was a prolific educator in our Dayton community, and served as a leading spokesperson for the local American Heart Association, always looking for ways to share information about heart health. We realize every day that COVID is so unpredictable, there isn’t an age demographic, there isn’t a race, there isn’t a social-economic status it affects. The Chandra Family had released a statement earlier: “The Chandra family has been overwhelmed by the wonderful outreach from both those in the local community and those around the world who have rallied in their time of great need. They are extremely humbled and thankful for the tireless work of so many. We respectfully ask you refrain from contacting the family or caregivers directly. This will allow us to focus on providing our energy to support the recovery of Dr. Chandra. Thank you for your support, cooperation and understanding.” The family says they are not accepting donations at this time, but they will be asking people to donate to a local organization in lieu of flowers. The wake and funeral services will be  held on 10/24/2020, Saturday at 10:30am ET. Please find the zoom link below to join. Date and time: 10/24/2020, 10:30am – 12pm. Zoom link: https://relx.zoom.us/j/95199885485 If unable to login the above Zoom meeting, please watch the service below: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX1rDhDYhGcYgblrvh3I8Gg Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to Community Health Centers of Dayton, https://www.communityhealthdayton.org 


AAPI-AHA Jointly Organize World Restart A Heart Day

 Sudden cardiac arrest is a serious public health crisis costing about 360,000 human lives here alone in the United States. Studies have shown that immigrants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal are experiencing a dramatic rise in heart disease. South Asians make up 25 per cent of the world’s population but they contribute 50 percent to global cardiovascular deaths.

Unfortunately 9/10 persons with sudden cardiac arrests do not survive but if rescued by timely CPR before the emergency help arrives, then we can double or triple the chances of recovery. Majority of cardiac arrest patients have underlying coronary disease but for some especially, South Asians,  who have this problem could recognize the manifestation of this illness very late.

With an ever increasing need  in reducing morbidity and mortality due to heart attacks and strokes, especially among Indians and  Indian Americans, the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) and the American Heart Association (AHA) joined hands together for the first time for a Global Initiative, World Restart A Heart Day with the objective of raising awareness about “Sudden Cardiac Arrest“ and how “Hands Only CPR“ is done  at home, thus rescuing and saving the lives of our loved ones on Sunday, October 18, 2020.

Francesca Martinez, representing AHA addressed the event. Panelists at the live virtual session included, Dr. Kapil Pareek, a SCD survivor; Anupama Gotimukula, President-Elect of AAPI; Dr. Brahma Sharma, Cardiologist; and Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalgadda, President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI).

Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalgadda said this is first time in AAPI history in Association with AHA observe the world restart Heart Day. It’s a total commitment to the joint efforts by AAPI and AHA. “I am very impressed with the energy and strength of the leaders who have taken upon themselves this noble task on creating awareness and educating the physicians and the public on this very serious disease, especially among South Asians in the US. We have the talents, skills, strength and the commitment. Let’s put them to work and help our brethren.”

The World Federation Societies of Anesthesiologists (WFSA), in collaboration with the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) runs the “World Restart a Heart Day,” a global campaign on the occasion of World Anesthesia Day. This is a global initiative, started in 2018 to increase the awareness of Bystander-CPR, in addition to increasing the overall Bystander CPR rates.

Dr. Brahma Sharma, a prominent cardiologist, serving as the Chair of the AAPI And AHA Liason Committee on South Asians CVD, said, “For too long, we South Asians have silently suffered from senseless premature death of our loved ones from cardiac arrests in our homes but no more , we have to be proactive so Under this historic AAPI – AHA alliance , we plan to  take this initiative of Hands only CPR” to every household so we can feel comfortable to pitch in and rescue these  previous lives in first few minutes before help arrives “

During the event, AAPI stressed the importance of Hands Only CPR for bystanders and immediately rescue lives and reduce “Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrests. A Hands on only CPR demonstration was led by Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President-Elect of AAPI. “Every family member needs to know how to do “Hands Only CPR” to save a life from sudden Cardiac Arrest!” It’s a day to commemorate the importance of Anesthesia specialty in the medical field with which we are able to make wonders in the medical field, especially the surgical specialties and able to do all complex surgeries successfully today!!

The AAPI-AHA Liaison Committee Advisor Dr. Vemuri S. Murthy, an advocate of Community and Physician Resuscitation Education and Training for more than three decades in USA and India, in a recent interview, shared his thoughts and concerns regarding current status of the out- of- hospital cardiac arrests and diminishing bystander resuscitation help during COVID-19 pandemic. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival. In majority of cases, immediate Hands-only CPR may have similar survival outcomes comparable to the conventional CPR performed with both chest compressions and breaths.

Global evidence-based information has proven that Bystander CPR is life-saving in sudden cardiac arrest. The latter is recognized by sudden collapse of the person without any breathing, pulse or consciousness. It’s important to call 911 first before performing Hands-only CPR. The bystander performing CPR needs to cover the mouth and nose fully with a face mask or cloth. The victim’s mouth and nose must be covered too with a face mask or cloth. Performing Hands-Only CPR involves pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute. Automated External Defibrillator (AED) needs to be utilized as soon as it’s available. This high-quality CPR should be continued by the bystander until the  arrival of paramedics. It’s important to follow the Good Samaritan Laws of a particular US State while performing Bystander CPR.

While serving as an umbrella organization for more than 200 member associations nationwide, AAPI was formed to coordinate the efforts of the physicians of Indian origin, currently working in the United States. Headquartered in Chicago, AAPI has come to be recognized as a strong voice in the healthcare legislation and policy arena. For more information on AAPI, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

Focusing Diversity, Biden Campaign Advt in Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi and Gujurati

Joe Biden for President is launching a new digital ad targeting Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in key battleground states highlighting the diversity of the community, and the shared values among AAPI voters.

The new 0:45 spot, titled “The America We Love,” features translations from nine different languages, including Tagalog, Traditional Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi, Gujurati, Hmong, and asks voters in-language to vote early.

The spot — produced in-house by a team of creatives, producers and editors, all of whom are AAPI women — includes messages of unity, family, and values that aim to mobilize AAPI communities to vote in the final stretch of the campaign.

Featuring user-generated content from campaign staff, supporters and others, the ad will run on Youtube and Facebook in nine battleground states including Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.“English is not the primary language for many eligible AAPI voters, so we wanted to speak with them respectfully in their mother tongue,” said Yena Oh, Biden for President Senior Video Editor and Korean-American. “We know how important it is to resonate and engage with our own community where they are — across different platforms using multiple languages.”

The new digital ad is part of a larger paid media campaign targeting AAPI communities launched earlier this month, which includes television, digital, radio, and print ads designed to engage persuadable voters, and mobilize members of the AAPI community in support of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. The campaign includes targeted ads in local ethnic media, allowing the campaign to reach AAPI voters, especially those who the campaign may not be able to reach through traditional voter outreach efforts.

The AAPI targeted campaign is currently running nationally on radio, digital and print platforms, as well as platforms in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The Biden for President paid media program is active in a total of 16 states — including the above states in addition to Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Ohio.

Biden For President is a broad coalition that is diverse and inclusive. The AAPI Coalition is made up of more than fourteen affinity groups, including AAPI Staffers for Biden, AAPI Veterans and Military Families for Biden, Chinese Americans for Biden, Filipino Americans for Biden, Hmong Americans for Biden, Japanese Americans for Biden, Korean Americans for Biden, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders for Biden, Queer AAPIs for Biden, South Asians for Biden, Taiwanese Americans for Biden, Thai Americans for Biden, Vietnamese Americans for Biden, and Young AAPIs for Biden.

If You Need Indian Visa, Passport Services in New York Region

The Consulate General of India New York has posted a public notice regarding the change of outsourcing service provider for visa and passport services in New York.

The existing service center of Cox & Kings Global Services (CKGS) located at 235 West, 23rd Street, New York, NY 10011 for providing outsourcing services for Visa, OCI, Renunciation, Passport and Global Entry Program (GEP) (Website: www.in.ckgs.us) was scheduled to shut down its operations at close of business on October 14, 2020.

According to the public notice, the new service provider, VFS Global will commence its operations from November 02, 2020.

Any applications received after October 16, 2020 at CKGS will be returned to the applicants without processing.

With effect from October 14, 2020 and till VFS Global commences its operations on November 02, 2020, the Consulate General of India, New York will provide services in emergency cases directly. Applicants falling under CGI, New York jurisdiction are advised to follow the instructions given below to avail emergency services.

⦁ Visa: Emergency visa will be issued to the eligible categories allowed to travel to India as per the advisories issued by the Government of India.  Applicants for emergency visa may write an email to ⦁ [email protected] or through PRAMIT dashboard available on website www.indiainnewyork.gov.in explaining the exigency, The Consulate thereafter will inform you of the next steps.

⦁ Passport: For emergency passport services, applicants are requested to send an email to: [email protected] or  through PRAMIT dashboard available on website: www.indiainnewyork.gov.in. Once the request has been approved by the Consulate, the applicant will be informed of the procedure for initiating application process. The approved applicants may send the completed form by postal mail to Consulate along with return pre-paid envelope for further processing.

⦁ Attestation Services: Miscellaneous Consular services such as Power of Attorney, Birth Certificate, PCC etc. shall be continue to be accepted by postal mail. These can be applied through the following link https://www.indiainnewyork.gov.in/Miscellaneous_general_info_new

⦁ OCI: All OCI services will remain suspended till the new service provider takes over on November 02, 2020.

The government of India has issued new instructions about the re-issuance of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Card and has granted extension of renewal time.

The following OCI guidelines have been in force since 2005:

OCI card is required to be re-issued each time a new passport is acquired by the

cardholder up to the age of 20 years.

OCI card is required to be re-issued once on acquiring a new passport after

completing 50 years of age.

The Government of India has decided to grant further extension in time till June

30, 2021 to get the OCI cards re-issued in accordance with above guidelines.

Who is an OCI?

According to the Indian government website, the following criteria applies:

A foreign national,

(i) who was a citizen of India at the time of, or at any time after 26th January, 1950; or

(ii) who was eligible to become a citizen of India on 26th January, 1950; or

The contact details of VFS Global, service fee details, operational hours, website etc. will be published on Consulate’s website shortly.

In case of any further query, it may please be addressed through PRAMIT dashboard available on www.indiainnewyork.gov.in.

Arrest of Fr. Stan Lourdswamy Condemned Worldwide

Major opposition parties in India and the United Nations backed an octogenarian Jesuit priest, jailed for alleged charges of sedition and links with Maoist rebels and demanded his immediate release.

The leaders of the Congress, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), Communist Party of India, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), and the Nationalist Congress Party slammed the arrest of 84-year-old activist Father Stan Swamy on Oct. 21. The party leaders also expressed solidarity with the “genuine” work the priest had done among the oppressed tribal people and other marginalized groups.

The sickly priest was arrested at his residence in Ranchi, capital of eastern Jharkhand state, on Oct. 8 night on the grounds of being party to a conspiracy that led to violence at Bhima Koregaon, in western state of Maharashtra, on Jan. 1, 2018, in which one person was killed and several others injured.

The priest denied the allegation and said he had not even visited Bhima Koregaon in his entire life. In a video message before his arrest, he said the National Investigation Agency, the federal agency tasked with combating terror activities, implicated him by manipulating documents in the case for his relentless fight against the exploitation of tribals and other oppressed mainly in Jharkhand.

The priest is among the 16 activists who are now in judicial custody for their opposition to the policies of the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party-led federal government and also the erstwhile BJP government in Jharkhand.  Civil rights group People’s Union for Civil Liberties had arranged the virtual press conference in solidarity with Father Stan and others facing trial for the alleged sedition charges.

Chief Minister of Jharkhand Hemant Soren in his message accused the federal government of trying to silence the voices of marginalized communities.” In a video message, he said, “under the present government, unity, integrity and democratic structures were under attack.”

He also slammed the federal government for “silencing the voices of those speaking for the Adivasis, Dalits and other marginalized groups.” He also deplored the way the government weakened various constitutional offices to advance its hidden agenda.

The BJP is accused of working to turn India into a Hindu theocratic and dictatorial country.

The arrest of someone like Father Swamy crossed all limits, the chief minister said. “He is someone who has been working in Jharkhand for years, in the remote faraway villages, wandering in the jungles, just so that the Adivasis, Dalits and minority populations here could be reached. This is extremely disappointing. Fr Stan (Swamy) is also suffering from many diseases,” Soren said.

“The way Stan Swamy has been arrested today, it could happen to any of us tomorrow – or it could even escalate further to people being killed,” Soren said.

Shashi Tharoor, a former federal minister and senior Congress leader, said Father Swamy deserves “respect and support,” not a jail term. Tharoor said he was convinced that “no Jesuit will indulge in any violence or entice anyone towards violence. This must stop. I appeal to the government to be fair and at least grant him bail. We stand in solidarity with Fr Stan,” he said.

They also demanded repeal of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), under which the priest and other activists are arrested. Leaders such as Sitaram Yechury, general secretary of CPI-M and K Kanimozhi K leader of DMK urged the public to break their silence over the government’s attacks on the rights of the people.

“Every law that this government passed had taken away the rights of the people. It’s time to break the silence,” Kanimozhi exhorted. Calling for repeal of UAPA, Yechury said, “it is prone to gross misuse.” He also said the federal government was working in such a way that it wants to pave the way for a “fascistic, intolerant and authoritarian Hindutva nation.” The Centre, he alleged, is using central agencies to undermine the Constitution, while shielding the real perpetrators of violence.

On Oct. 20 the United Nations too questioned the arrest of Father Stan as well as the human rights record of India. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet issued a statement urging the Indian government to safeguard the rights of human rights defenders and non-governmental organizations.

“More than 1,500 people have reportedly been arrested in relation to the protests, with many charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, a law which has also been widely criticized for its lack of conformity with international human rights standards”, the statement said.

“Most recently, the 83-year-old Catholic priest Stan Swamy, a long-standing activist engaged in defending the rights of marginalized groups, was charged and reportedly remains in detention, despite his poor health”, it noted.

Bachelet urged the Indian government to ensure that “no one else is detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly – and to do its utmost, in law and policy, to protect India’s robust civil society.”

India, however, reacted to the UN strongly saying violations of the law cannot be condoned under the pretext of human rights and a more informed view of the matter was expected of the UN body.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UN Survives a World Turned Upside Down

As the United Nations plans to commemorate its annual UN Day, come October 24, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is presiding over a world body which has remained locked down since last March because of the spreading coronavirus pandemic.

“In a world turned upside down, this General Assembly Hall is among the strangest sights of all,” said Guterres last month, describing the venue of the UN’s highest policy-making body.

At its 75th anniversary last month, the UN resembled a ghost town, with not a single world leader in sight. But an overwhelming majority did address the UN—remotely via video conferencing, for the first time in the history of the 193-member Organization.

Still, the United States was notoriously missing in action (MIA).

“It was like staging Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark,” remarked one delegate, using a Shakespearean metaphor.

The US, which is traditionally given pride of place as host country to the UN, was not represented either by the President, the Secretary of State or the Permanent Representative to the UN (in that pecking order).

The designated speaker for the commemorative meeting was a deputy US Permanent Representative—way done the political hierarchy.

Vijay Prashad, Director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, told IPS the United States stands almost alone in its disdain for the UN and for the goals of the UN Charter of 1945.

Disrespect to the UN at the 75th anniversary meeting comes alongside US withdrawal or pledges to withdraw from UNESCO, UNICEF, UNRWA, and the WHO.

Keep in mind, he said, that the US government has sanctioned senior members of the International Criminal Court (ICC), while US unilateral sanctions against countries such as Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela are a violation of international law.

There is no surprise that no senior official came for the anniversary meeting; in fact, it is to be expected, he added.

The United Nations remains one of the most important institutions committed to international peace and development, declared Prashad, author of thirty books, including Washington Bullets, Red Star Over the Third World, The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World and The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South.

Meanwhile, as the lock down continued, the overwhelming majority of over 3,000 staffers at the UN, and its affiliated agencies in New York, are working from home.

Speaking of the 75th anniversary meeting, Barbara Adams, chair of the board of Global Policy Forum and former Chief of Strategic Partnerships and Communications for the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), told IPS: “Yet again people around the world were witnesses to the enormous gap between the well- articulated diagnosis of where we are and what needs to be done not only in the face of COVID-19 but also of pre-existing inequalities, vulnerabilities and multi-dimensional violence.

Could it be, she asked, that the UN has been “captured” as the President of Equatorial Guinea lamented: “We cannot accept [either] that after so many years, the Charter of the UN continues to preserve the primacy of the major powers who trample on the legitimate aspirations of the weak so that they can enjoy the advantages of the UN system.””

Joseph Chamie, a former director of the UN Population Division, and currently an independent consulting demographer, told IPS: “In my opinion I did not hear any significant or noteworthy contributions from world leaders who addressed the meeting.

Their statements were not informative, insightful or inspiring. In brief, their remarks were disappointing and unmemorable, he pointed out.

Chamie said the lofty goals, ideals and accomplishments of the United Nations should have been highlighted and stressed.

During the past 75 years, he argued, the United Nations has accomplished much and contributed greatly to many critical areas, including peace, security, human rights, health, education, women’s equality and development.

“In the next 75 years, the United Nations must promote and expand its essential work for a world population now approaching nearly 8 billion, four times its size when the United Nations was established”.

While many challenges remain, including the current pandemic, this is an opportune time for world leaders to support and strengthen the United Nations and work together on effectively addressing the critical issues of today and tomorrow, said Chamie.

“The spirit, leadership and vision of 1945 can be rekindled and the United Nations revitalized for its indispensable role in the 21st century”, he declared.

The final declaration, which was adopted by the 193 member nations, singled out the UN as the only global organization with the power to bring countries together and give “hope to so many people for a better world and … deliver the future we want.”


“No other global organization gives hope to so many people for a better world and can deliver the future we want. The urgency for all countries to come together, to fulfil the promise of the nations united, has rarely been greater,” the declaration said.

(By Thalif Deen at IPS)

Mouthwashes, Oral Rinses May Inactivate Human Coronaviruses

Certain oral antiseptics and mouthwashes may have the ability to inactivate human coronaviruses, according to a Penn State College of Medicine research study. The results indicate that some of these products might be useful for reducing the viral load, or amount of virus, in the mouth after infection and may help to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Craig Meyers, distinguished professor of microbiology and immunology and obstetrics and gynecology, led a group of physicians and scientists who tested several oral and nasopharyngeal rinses in a laboratory setting for their ability to inactivate human coronaviruses, which are similar in structure to SARS-CoV-2. The products evaluated include a 1% solution of baby shampoo, a neti pot, peroxide sore-mouth cleansers and mouthwashes.

The researchers found that several of the nasal and oral rinses had a strong ability to neutralize human coronavirus, which suggests that these products may have the potential to reduce the amount of virus spread by people who are COVID-19 positive.

“While we wait for a vaccine to be developed, methods to reduce transmission are needed,” Meyers said. “The products we tested are readily available and often already part of people’s daily routines.”

Meyers and colleagues used a test to replicate the interaction of the virus in the nasal and oral cavities with the rinses and mouthwashes. Nasal and oral cavities are major points of entry and transmission for human coronaviruses. They treated solutions containing a strain of human coronavirus, which served as a readily available and genetically similar alternative for SARS-CoV-2, with the baby shampoo solutions, various peroxide antiseptic rinses and various brands of mouthwash. They allowed the solutions to interact with the virus for 30 seconds, one minute and two minutes, before diluting the solutions to prevent further virus inactivation. According to Meyers, the outer envelopes of the human coronavirus tested and SARS-CoV-2 are genetically similar so the research team hypothesizes that a similar amount of SARS-CoV-2 may be inactivated upon exposure to the solution.

To measure how much virus was inactivated, the researchers placed the diluted solutions in contact with cultured human cells. They counted how many cells remained alive after a few days of exposure to the viral solution and used that number to calculate the amount of human coronavirus that was inactivated as a result of exposure to the mouthwash or oral rinse that was tested. The results were published in the Journal of Medical Virology.

The 1% baby shampoo solution, which is often used by head and neck doctors to rinse the sinuses, inactivated greater than 99.9% of human coronavirus after a two-minute contact time. Several of the mouthwash and gargle products also were effective at inactivating the infectious virus. Many inactivated greater than 99.9% of virus after only 30 seconds of contact time and some inactivated 99.99% of the virus after 30 seconds.   

According to Meyers, the results with mouthwashes are promising and add to the findings of a study showing that certain types of oral rinses could inactivate SARS-CoV-2 in similar experimental conditions. In addition to evaluating the solutions at longer contact times, they studied over-the-counter products and nasal rinses that were not evaluated in the other study. Meyers said the next step to expand upon these results is to design and conduct clinical trials that evaluate whether products like mouthwashes can effectively reduce viral load in COVID-19 positive patients.

“People who test positive for COVID-19 and return home to quarantine may possibly transmit the virus to those they live with,” said Meyers, a researcher at Penn State Cancer Institute. “Certain professions including dentists and other health care workers are at a constant risk of exposure. Clinical trials are needed to determine if these products can reduce the amount of virus COVID-positive patients or those with high-risk occupations may spread while talking, coughing or sneezing. Even if the use of these solutions could reduce transmission by 50%, it would have a major impact.”

Future studies may include a continued investigation of products that inactive human coronaviruses and what specific ingredients in the solutions tested inactivate the virus.

Janice Milici, Samina Alam, David Quillen, David Goldenberg and Rena Kass of Penn State College of Medicine and Richard Robison of Brigham Young University also contributed to this research.

The research was supported by funds from Penn State Huck Institutes for the Life Sciences. The researchers declare no conflict of interest.

About Penn State College of Medicine Located on the campus of Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa., Penn State College of Medicine boasts a portfolio of nearly $100 million in funded research. Projects range from development of artificial organs and advanced diagnostics to groundbreaking cancer treatments and understanding the fundamental causes of disease. Enrolling its first students in 1967, the College of Medicine has more than 1,700 students and trainees in medicine, nursing, the health professions and biomedical research on its two campuses.

Are climate scientists being too cautious when linking extreme weather to climate change?

In this year of extreme weather events — from devastating West Coast wildfires to tropical Atlantic storms that have exhausted the alphabet — scientists and members of the public are asking when these extreme events can be scientifically linked to climate change.

Dale Durran, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, argues that climate science need to approach this question in a way similar to how weather forecasters issue warnings for hazardous weather.

In a new paper, published in the October issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, he draws on the weather forecasting community’s experience in predicting extreme weather events such as tornadoes, flash floods, high winds and winter storms. If forecasters send out a mistaken alert too often, people will start to ignore them. If they don’t alert for severe events, people will get hurt. How can the atmospheric sciences community find the right balance?

Most current approaches to attributing extreme weather events to global warming, he says, such as the conditions leading to the ongoing Western wildfires, focus on the likelihood of raising a false alarm. Scientists do this by using statistics to estimate the increase in the probability of that event that is attributable to climate change.  Those statistical measures are closely related to the “false alarm ratio,” an important metric used to assess the quality of hazardous weather warnings.

But there is a second key metric used to assess the performance of weather forecasters, he argues: The probably that the forecast will correctly warn of events that actually occur, known as  the “probability of detection.” The ideal probability of detection score is 100%, while the ideal false-alarm rate would be zero.

Probability of detection has mostly been ignored when it comes to linking extreme events to climate change, he says. Yet both weather forecasting and climate change attribution face a tradeoff between the two. In both weather forecasting and climate-change attribution, calculations in the paper show that raising the thresholds to reduce false alarms produces a much greater drop in the probability of detection.

Drawing on a hypothetical example of a tornado forecaster whose false alarm ratio is zero, but is accompanied by a low probability of detection, he writes that such an “overly cautious tornado forecasting strategy might be argued by some to be smart politics in the context of attributing extreme events to global warming, but it is inconsistent with the way meteorologists warn for a wide range of hazardous weather, and arguably with the way society expects to be warned about threats to property and human life.”

Why does this matter? The paper concludes by noting: “If a forecaster fails to warn for a tornado there may be serious consequences and loss of life, but missing the forecast does not make next year’s tornadoes more severe. On the other hand, every failure to alert the public about those extreme events actually influenced by global warming facilitates the illusion that mankind has time to delay the actions required to address the source of that warming. Because the residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere is many hundreds to thousands of years the cumulative consequences of such errors can have a very long lifetime.”

Thai Chicken Satay with Creamy Chilli-Peanut Dip

This is a very delicious, yet healthy cooked appetiser. This being a great Thai dish, I’m sharing the most simplest authentic recipe all could ever try. How I developed this recipe- Although traditional chicken satay and peanut dip is a very popularly served in most thai/Asian restaurants,  I’m pretty sure that not many of you would have tried making chicken satay at home, especially because you were skeptical about making your own creamy chilli peanut dip. So I not only wanted to keep both the recipes simple, but I also wanted the chicken to be tender, perfectly cooked, properly marinated in the right spices and my sauce to be mildly hot, subtly tangy and very creamy. What’s special about this recipe- Juicy tender bite-sized chicken — As I have already mentioned the perfect marinade consisting of turmeric, ginger, garlic ,coconut milk etc.not only contributes to the wonderful Thai flavour, but also tenderises the chicken thighs that were chosen over the commonly used chicken breast pieces for this recipe. And then, char-grilling them slowly renders the thigh fat to the protein making it more scrumptious. Quick and yummy dip- This peanut dip has everything you are looking for to accompany your chicken bites, for it is of finger-licking  creamy texture that on itself compliments with the hotness of spicy chillies added to it. What you’ll need- For the chicken satay- 500g Chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces Half a teaspoon of turmeric powder1.5 teaspoons yellow curry powder (refer notes)2 teaspoons of brown sugar or palm sugar 1 teaspoon minced garlic 1 teaspoon grated ginger Half a tablespoon of fish sauce 2 tablespoons of coconut milk 1 tablespoon soy sauce Half a tablespoon of peanut oil or canola oilSalt and pepper as required Water-soaked wooden skewers  For the creamy chilli peanut dip- 1.5 tablespoons creamy peanut butter Half a teaspoon of grated ginger Half a teaspoon of minced garlic1 teaspoon of brown sugar or palm sugar1 teaspoon of lime juice Half a tablespoon of roasted peanuts Half a tablespoon of soy sauce Half of a red Thai chilli or 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes 1 tablespoon coconut milk How to make- Marinate the chicken pieces in the ingredients listed below the marinade list from atleast 20 minutes to overnight(refrigerated).Grill them skewered onto pre-soaked wooden sticks, preferably on a girdle over heated charcoal or on a heat girdle-pan, for 5 minutes each on all sides. Pulse the ingredients listed for the dip, until well combined and of right consistency. Notes, tips and suggestions- . Serve your hot chicken skewers alongside some lime wedges and the prepared dip garnished with crushed peanuts and coriander leaves.. If you want your dip to be more towards the runnier side, add a tablespoon more of coconut milk into it .. If you can’t find yellow curry powder in your pantry, you could make your own easily by mixing up the following: half a tablespoon ground coriander seeds, three quarters of a teaspoon of cumin powder, half a teaspoon of turmeric powder, a quarter teaspoon of ground black pepper, a quarter teaspoon of chilli powder and a quarter teaspoon of ground ginger.

IAPC Organizes Live Presidential Debate During 7th International Media Conference

(New York, NY; October 22, 2020) The Indo-American Press Club (IAPC) organized a live Presidential Debate virtually as part of  the 7th annual International Media Conference (IMC-2020) on Sunday, October 18, 2020. Broadcast on several social media platforms, and was attended live by hundreds of IAPC members, supporters, and well-wishers from around the world, the first ever Debate had participation by prominent politicians, academicians, physicians, and community leaders. The panelists from the Republican Party were: Puneet Ahluwalia, Candidate for Lt. Governor, Virginia; Dr. Sampat Shivangi, Republican Delegate to the National Republican Party Convention; and Dr. Anand Tamhankar, a Multi-Disciplinary Expert and a Physician. The Democrats on the Panel were: Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox, Candidate for Connecticut State Assembly; Dr. Hetal Gor, a Women’s Leader and OBGYN, NJ; and Anil Bansal, President of Federation of Indian Associations, NY, NJ, CT. The lively debate was moderated by Dr. Renee Mehrra, TV/News Anchor, TV Asia. The participants eloquently and with anecdotes discussed in detail on the differencing policies and perspectives of the Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden and that of the Republican Party, President Trump on the Covid-19 Pandemic, Healthcare Policy and the Affordable care Act, the US Economy, US relationship with India and the rest of the world, with a particular focus on the  UN and WHO, Immigration System, Work Visas, and the Indian Americans Awaiting for decades for Green Card approval, and the policies and programs by both the parties on Climate Change. Advocating strongly for the Biden –Harris Ticket, Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox argued that, “As a nation, we are more deeply divided in some ways than we have ever been. We are in need of a leader who will bring us together rather than increase polarization. The rising number of former Republican officials and leading Democrats who support Vice President Biden speaks for itself. Joe Biden is the right kind of unifying candidate–a centrist candidate with the experience to do the job, the ability to rebuild our relationships domestically and abroad, and the leadership to help the United States successfully emerge from the global pandemic.” Anil Bansal made a strong pitch for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Stating that Americans face an epic choice of this election, he said, “Our decency and democracy are at stake. When the president starts behaving like a king, fuels racism and division, and destroys science, we must wake up.  Trump has clearly shown in the last four years that he is incompetent and selfish. Mr. Trump lies and cheats and mocks everyone who does not agree with him. Whereas Mr. Biden is a proven leader who is most decent, builds confidence and consensus, and believes in serving the country and its people.” He concluded his argument for the Democratic Party Ticket, Bansal argued that “We owe to our children and future generations to use the power given today and vote for stability, democracy, and bring back the soul of the nation.” In her passionate debate as to why Indian Americans should defeat Trump and support Biden & Harris Ticket in 2020, Dr. Hetal Gor said, “In the past four years, Trump’s policies, actions, and words have all been extremely divisive. He has openly supported White supremacist groups, increased racial divide, and wreaked havoc on the social fabric of the nation. His tax cuts have widened the deficit in turn crowding out productive investment and have increased income inequality within the nation. He is unequivocally against a woman’s right to choice. Internationally, Trump has made even our allies turn their back on us. Trump’s policies have revoked India’s special trade status and levied tariffs on India’s imports. He has restricted Visas to Indian immigrants, falsely claimed that India asked the US to intervene in Kashmir, and mediate dispute with China. He has used Prime Minister Modi for his own personal advantage without doing anything constructive for Indians.” In her argument for supporting Biden, Dr. Gor believes that “the Biden/Harris campaign will work together to restore core American values. They would make sure the US is seen as a country of a respect as they would cut down hate crime, protect houses of worship, restore the American Dream, secure our values as a nation that was built by immigrants by working to eliminate language barriers for all. Furthermore, they have and will continue to honor the contributions of Indians, and will create a safe environment for all children. They will preserve strong alliances with our allies, and strengthen US-India relationship, and supporting India’s membership in a reformed and expanded UN Security Council.” Advocating strongly to re-elect President Trump and the Republican Party candidates around the nation, Puneet Ahluwalia said, “This will ensure that our nation stays the course for unprecedented economic growth. Especially after the pandemic, we need strong committed leadership which fulfills its promises to the American people. Our nation’s economy needs a leader who is pro-business and understands the plight of hard working Americans. Biden will increase taxes and regulations which will further stifle the economy and run businesses and manufacturing out of our country. The Democratic Party leadership is purposely stalling the economy with draconian mandates to harm Republicans this election, which are playing with American lives.” On the international front, Ahluwalia argued that “Only President Trump can take on the threats of China, Iran and Russia along with other external threats around the globe. As proud Americans, we value growth, freedom and opportunity. It is for the very same reason, I have chosen to run for Lt. Governor of Virginia.” According to Dr. Sampat Shivangi, historically US Presidents from the Democratic Party have contributed minimally to the cause of India. “It was Bush who signed the US-India civil nuclear treaty, which stands as a major foreign policy milestone of his presidency.” While Joe Biden has questioned the removal of Article 370 and CAA by Modi Government, President Trump has advanced the friendship between Indian and the US and has opposed the Chinese-Pakistani propaganda in the UN Security Council and proceedings against India on Article 370 and CAA. “It is a known fact that Trump and his Secretary of State went out of the way to support India,” he pointed out. “One has to remember Trump’s statement that India now has its best friend in the White House. It is good to have a friend of India in the White House than its adversary. Now, we the Indian Americans should support a friend of India in the November election as our gratitude towards our motherland.” Dr. Anand Tamhankar argued that “This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make an impact with our votes by helping re-elect President Trump. He has been the most ardent supporter of Modiji’s reforms and the Indian causes, which is in contrast to the open vocal opposition to India and the removal of article 370 and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) by Biden-Harris.” According to him, “Trump is the clear choice if you believe in controlled, legal, merit-based immigration versus mass uncontrolled, vote bank politics-based immigration. A border-less America is unsustainable and a big challenge to the safety and security of citizens as can be seen in Europe and countries with extremely liberal immigration policies in the past.  “Trump’s re-election means continued prosperity based on low taxation,responsible and free market capitalism vs Democrat’s socialist policies of unsustainable free handouts,” Dr. Anand Tamhankar argued. “Look beyond the political rhetoric and Covid politics, to his administration’s glowing achievements and results in 4 years despite democrat led distractions of Impeachment, Mueller probe and other impediments. Contrast that with 47+ years of Biden in public office with little to show for it. Trump’ re-election at this critical juncture means rule of law and order versus conditions that we see in many democratic controlled cities. Is that the future we want for our next generation in America?” In her closing remarks, Dr. Renee Mehrra, who is well known to the South Asian American community as one of the most prominent broadcast journalists in the tri-state area, said, “The candidate that is compassionate and can heal America, address inequities in education, health, boost the economy, keep our borders safe and secure, bring stability and trust, and where America is respected by the world.. Let that candidate win and be elected as the 46th President of US.”

Earlier, in his opening remarks, Ajay Ghosh, Founder President and a Member of the IAPC BOD and the organizer of the Debate, said, “Indian Americans have come a long way since they started arriving on the shores of the United States in the 1960s, seeking greener pastures. They excel in almost all areas of our life here and are becoming a politically active community across the United States. As the Presidential Elections 2020 draws near, our community is split between the two major political parties. Today’s debate is to educate our community on where each party stands on the most important issues that affect the nation and the world.” IAPC Chairman Dr. Joseph Chalil, while proposing Vote of Thanks, stressed the importance of the media and congratulated IAPC for its contributions to society.

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

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

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

IAPC’s 7th Annual International Media Conference Held Seminars, Panel Discussions, Presidential Debate, Cultural Programs, Award Ceremony Are Highlights

Educational Seminars, Panel Discussions, Presidential Debate, Award Ceremony, and Cultural Extravaganza were some of the major highlights of the 7th annual International Media Conference (IMC 2020) organized by the Indo-American Press Club (IAPC) from October 17th to 18th 2020. Meticulous planning and execution of the IMC, organized virtually due to the ongoing Pandemic, by IAPC’s Board of Directors and the National Executive Committee, was live broadcast on several social media platforms, and was attended by thousands of IAPC members, supporters, and well-wishers from around the world.

Led by IAPC Chairman Dr. Joseph Chalil and President Dr. S.S. Lal, the IMC 2020 was inaugurated by Ms. Shanimol Osman, a legislative assembly member of Kerala, India. Ms. Osman stressed the importance of the media and congratulated IAPC for its contributions to society.

 In his inaugural address, Dr. Chalil, while describing the current phase in human history as “unprecedented times for the journalists, who are the true warriors of journalism,” he pointed out that “several media personnel has been killed due to the COVID pandemic, in their efforts to provide accurate and balanced reporting.”

In his Presidential Address, Dr. Lal highlighted the importance of journalists and the need to coordinate and bring together journalists under one umbrella. “And it is the commitment and sacrifice of the leaders and members of this organization that has helped us build collaborations between the journalists and writers of the US and India,” Dr. Lal said.

In his address, Ambassador Pradeep Kapur stressed the importance of the media, especially in these challenging times, as they work hard to bring the truth before the public. While inaugurating the IAPC News Wire, which has been coordinated by Kamlesh Mehta of the South Asian Times, Ambassador T P Sreenivasan, IFS, highlighted Media’s role and how a Newswire can be a channel for educating the public, especially during the Pandemic. The annual Souvenir of IAPC was released by its Editor, Dr. Mathew Joys, a Member of the BOD.

During an interactive seminar on Indo-US Relations by reputed Indian Foreign Service Officers, Ambassador Kapur and Ambassador Sreenivasan, with experiences in Diplomacy and have personally served in various capacities, representing India around the world, especially in the US and at the UN, shared with the audience of their critical insights into the relationship of India with the US, China, Pakistan, and European nations. Chief Information Commissioner Bimal Julka, IAS, inaugurated the Educational Website Portal www.bhudhi.com and addressed the audience. Dr. Aann Abraham served as the Emcee.

A Seminar on “Freedom of Press in India & US” was led by Siddharth Varadarajan, a former editor of the Indian English language national daily, The Hindu, and the founding editor of the Indian digital news portal, The Wire. Azad Jayan moderated, and Dr. Neethu James served as the Emcee. The session on “Cyber Security & Social Media” was led by Joseph Ponnoly & Binosh Bruce and was moderated by Thomas Mathew, Vice Chairman of IAPC, and Kalyani Nair served as the Emcee. The Master Ceremony for the IMS was James Kureekkatil.

Coordinated by Ajay Ghosh, Founder President and a Member of the BOD, for the first time ever, a live US Presidential Election Debate with the active participation of prominent political leaders and observers from both the Democratic and the Republic Parties was organized. The panelists from the Republican Party were: Puneet Ahluwalia, Candidate for Lt. Governor, Virginia; Dr. Sampat Shivangi, Republican Delegate to the National Republican Convention; and Dr. Anand Tamhankar, a Multi-Disciplinary Expert and a Physician. The Democrats on the Panel were: Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox, Candidate for Connecticut State Assembly; Dr. Hetal Gor, a Women’s Leader and OBGYN, NJ; and Anil Bansal, President of Federation of Indian Associations, NY, NJ, CT. The lively debate was moderated by Dr. Renee Mehrra, TV/News Anchor, TV Asia.

Facilitation speeches were delivered by Ginsmon P Zacharia, IAPC Founder Chairman; Parveen Chopra, Editor, South Asian Times & IAPC Director; Anitha Naveen, IAPC Vancouver Chapter; Joseph John, President, IAPC Alberta Chapter; Bince Mandapam, President, IAPC, Toronto Chapter; Milly Philip, President, IAPC, Philadelphia Chapter; Sabu Kurian, President, IAPC, Atlanta Chapter; Meena Chittilapally, President, IAPC, Dallas Chapter; and, Dr. Mathew Vyramon, Secretary, IAPC, Houston Chapter. Mini Nair, a Member of BOD, introduced Dr. Lal. A vote of thanks was proposed by Annie Anuvelil, IAPC Secretary

“We strive to educate and help improve the performance of Indian American journalists and those in India by imparting new knowledge and modern trends to the participants,” said Ginsmon Zacharia, founder chairman of IAPC. IAPC General Secretary Biju Chacko said that the Indian community in North America and elsewhere have been very supportive of the activities of our Press Club and have been requested to continue their support for the coming seventh International Media Conference. “Leading media personalities from around the world have been collaborating with IAPC,” said Mathewkutty Easo, Secretary, Board of Directors. “IAPC is committed to connecting, training, and encouraging emerging media professionals through innovative IT windows and platforms.”

IAPC Executive Vice President Annie Koshy said, “Despite the chaos around us, the IAPC has been unflinching in purpose to deliver and meet the needs of the Indian diaspora of journalists based in North America.” National Treasurer Reji Philip said that IAPC leadership and members have been working together for months for the success of the seventh International Media Conference, bringing the significant presence of the media community as done during the last six years. The cultural extravaganza featuring famous artists from Southern Indian Cinema World was presented by Saji Abraham of the Hedges Group.

The Grand Finale, the solemn Award Ceremony, was led by Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh; Dr. Joseph Chalil, IAPC Chairman; Korason Varghese, Award Committee Chair; & Dr. P.V. Baiju, IAPC Board Member. WHEELS Global Foundation, a charitable initiative by the Indian Institute of Technology alumni, was conferred The Sathkarma Award. Dr. Vinod K. Shah, Managing Director of MedStar Shah Medical Group, CEO of Health Prime, and former President of AAPI, was conferred with the prestigious Karma Shrestha Award.

Ranjani Saigal, Executive Director of Ekal Vidyalaya, and Dean Nitin Nohria, Dean of Harvard Business School, were given The SathKarma Award. Ambassador Pradeep Kapur, the author of the book Beyond Covid-19 Pandemic and former Ambassador of India to Chile and Cambodia, received the Excellence in Literature Award.

Chancellor of the University of California San Diego, Pradeep Khosla, was awarded the Excellence in Technology & Education Award. Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), was conferred the Excellence in Leadership Award. The Humanitarian Award was given to Dr. Sunil D. Kumar, Broward Health Medical Center, and former President of AKMG. Satish Korpe, the past President of the Indian American Forum for Political Education, and Madhavan B. Nair, former President of FOKANA, received the Community Service Award. Lalit K. Jha, Chief US Correspondent for Press Trust of India (PTI), was given the IAPC Media Excellence Award.

The Indo-American Press Club (IAPC), a 501 (c) 3 Non-Profit Organization headquartered in New York, was formed in 2013 with the ideals of providing a  common platform to journalists of  Indian-origin living in the United States and Canada committed to professionalism and well-being of the larger society.  IAPC is also committed to recognize and honor the outstanding entities and individuals in the community that creates a social impact and excel in their field of profession, culture, service, and business.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indian Americans to the State Houses in the Northeast USA Share Their Personal Stories At GOPIO Interactive Session

Since the initial days immigration from South Asia to the United States in the early 1960s to the present, Indian Americans have steadily grown from a very insignificant minority to the current fast growing and influential community in the United States. They are described as a model minority community for what they have been able to become and achieve in about half a century.

GOPIO chapters in the New York area (Manhattan, New York, Connecticut and Central Jersey) in collaboration with IMPACT Project organized an interactive Zoom session, celebrating Indian American community’s emerging political leaders in the Northeast of the United States on Thursday, October 8th, 2020. 

Moderated by Raj Goyle, Former Member of Kansas State Assembly and Co-Founder, IMPACT (New York, NY), the session showcased several Indian American leaders from the Northeast, with the audience from around the United States, on how they developed interest in public service, their challenges and the sense of pride and achievement in what they have accomplished.  Describing himself as a pioneer in US politics, Goyle said, “When I had joined politics, I did not know much of politics. I was one of the first to be elected to any State Assembly. And I am proud to be part of the new generation of PIOs/NRIs in politics.” said Goyle.

Raj Goyle began his career in politics following his work as a policy analyst and civil rights attorney. Goyle served two terms in the Kansas House of Representatives, making him the first Asian American elected to office in Kansas’ history. He is currently the CEO of Bodhala, a leading legal technology, and resides in New York City with his wife and two daughters.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Gautam Mukunda at The Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, MA, eloquently educated the audience on the history of universal adult franchise in the US, starting with the “fight by the Black Americans for voting rights in the US.” Stating that he had to learn the rising of the Indian Americans through academics, took the audience down the memory lane, when the 1st Indian American, Dalip Singh Saund to be elected to the US Congress in the 1950s. Referring to the pioneers of Color who had fought for equal rights and freedom, he said, “We could not be where we are today, if they did not fight for equal rights for all. There is no better way than running for office,” he said. Pointing to the many Speakers (Indian American Candidates Running for State Elective Offices in the Northeast of the United States), he said, “Everyone of you gives me hope. People in US believe that Indian Americans are capable of becoming leaders in the nation.”

Connecticut State Rep. Raghib Allie-Brennan, Candidate for CT House of Representatives in the 2nd District shared with the audience as to how he got interested in entering politics, especially through his “commitment to Environment after Hurricane Katrina devastated the nation.” While he had lost the election the first time by 260 votes, did not deter him from contesting again. And he won convincingly the second time he fought the election. “It was the desire to give back to the society that prompted me to enter politics and serve the people,” he said.

New York State Senator Kevin Thomas, a candidate for NY State Senate District 56, said, he is “proud of the community he has come to represent. My constituents sought change and they got the change by electing me.” Stating that there are many forces from outside of his state are pouring in money to unseat him, he urged the community to support him with fund raising efforts. Stating that during his short term in the NY Senate, he has been successful in bringing in much needed funding to serve the diverse needs with several new programs for his constituents.” He urged everyone to VOTE in the upcoming election and make “our voices heard.”

Ohio State Rep. Niraj Antani, a candidate for Ohio State Senate District 6, said, he is the 2nd Indian American ever elected to a statewide office and he is one of the only Republicans of Indian Origin to be elected. “I work hard to reach across the aisle and cooperate with people in both the Parties to legislate.” Sharing his early days and inspiration to enter politics, he said, “My parents worked hard to live the American dream. There is a need for us to be at the decision-making table. Everyone is able to realize the dream. We stand on your shoulders, to carry on the Indian values.” Niraj Antani is serving his third term in the Ohio House of Representatives. He was the youngest Indian American elected official in the United States. 

Jeremy Cooney from Rochester, New York, a candidate for NY State Senate District 56, said, “I am from India. I was adopted as a young child. My commitment is to give back to the community.” Cooney added, “I had great opportunity to work for elected officials and grateful for the opportunity to serve. We cannot control the politics of DC but can serve the inclusive NY state.”  Born in an Indian orphanage, Jeremy was adopted by a single-mother and grew up in the South Wedge neighborhood of the City of Rochester. After losing his mother to dementia and brain cancer, Jeremy has devoted his career to serving the community that helped raise him from the YMCA to all levels of government. Now Jeremy is running for State Senate to create new and good paying jobs, improve schools and provide access to quality healthcare for all. 

New Hampshire State Rep. Latha Mangipudi, who is a candidate for NH House of Representatives 35th District for a 5th Term, shared with the audience about her own life, challenges in becoming a female, non-White elected official from a state which is majority White. “It was a very slow and gradual journey after I had come to the US to pursue higher studies in the 1980s.” Inspired by Gandhiji’s message of non-violence, which Martin Luther and late Rep. John Lewis had imbibed in their public life, the 1st generation Indian American said,  “I am a woman, Brown colored, 1st generation Indian and very vocal in expressing my views.”

Rupande Mehta from New Jersey, a candidate for NJ State Senate District 25, said, “I have been working in my community for long, which needs a new leader, who can represents our values of my state and my constituents.” Describing his life as “My story is a story of dreams. Coming from Mumbai, seeking freedom, I am running for office, because representation matters.” If elected she will be the first person of South Asian to be elected from his District. “I am ready to take on the most conservative, who has no regard for public safety,” Mehta added.  

NJ State Rep. Raj Mukherji from NJ’s 33rd District said, “My story is simple.” Stating that it is “premature to say we have arrived. Our community’s vote matters. We are proud to be Brown hibernated community.”

Kesha Ram, Burlington, Vermont, a candidate for VT State Senate Chittenden District, shared of the reasons for her entering politics. “I got engaged with the community for long, where we care for each other.” One of the youngest ever to be elected to State Assembly at the age of 21, she said, she had left active politics, and now she is back to run for the Senate seat. “As a daughrer of a Punjabi from India, I remember my Math classes. I try to listen and follow up. Ninety percent of what we communicate is through body language. I strive to make people comfortable,” which helps the Indian American win people’s hearts.

The initiative, The Indian-American Impact Project, has a political action committee appendage — the Indian-American Impact Fund”— and is collectively known as “IMPACT” was founded by Raj Goyle and Deepak Raj, Chairman of Pratham USA and founder of the Raj Center on Indian Economic Policies at Columbia University.

Deepak Raj, on his remarks said, there are as many as 70 Indian Americans are running for office in the upcoming elections around the nation, and the scope has expanded today across the nation. “This is our time,” said Raj. “Across the country, a record number of Indian-Americans are running for office. We can’t leave it to chance that they will win on their own. We owe them our support — and we have a plan to help them run, win, and lead. We are nowhere on the celling yet. We are at an early stage. But I am thrilled to be where we are today. There is lots to be excited about 2020 and beyond.”

GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham, the coordinator of the event, in his welcome address, underscored the need for Indian Americans to come together and help elect the candidates across the nation, who are standing for election. He assured the support of GOPIO, which has become an active and dynamic organization hosting interactive sessions with policy makers and academicians, community events, youth mentoring and networking workshops, and working with other area organizations to help create a better future.

Shivender Sofat, President of GOPIO Manhattan, concluded the session and proposed vote of thanks wishing all the Indian American candidates success and offered whole hearted support of the Indian American community.  

The full video coverage is provided at the Indus TV Global Facebook Link at https://www.facebook.com/IndusTVglobal/videos/334486537836574/.

Teen Anika Chebrolu’s Discovery Will Limit Spike Protein Of The SARS-Cov-2 Virus

The coronavirus has killed more than 1.1 million people globally since China reported its first case to the World Health Organization (WHO) in December 2019. The United States has more than 220,000 deaths, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Anika, an Indian American Teenager, submitted her project when she was in 8th grade — but it wasn’t always going to be focused on finding a cure for Covid-19. Initially, her goal was to use in-silico methods to identify a lead compound that could bind to a protein of the influenza virus.

“After spending so much time researching about pandemics, viruses and drug discovery, it was crazy to think that I was actually living through something like this,” Anika said.  “Because of the immense severity of the Covid-19 pandemic and the drastic impact it had made on the world in such a short time, I, with the help of my mentor, changed directions to target the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”

3M, in partnership with Discovery Education, Oct. 14 announced that Indian American student Anika Chebrolu won the 2020 Young Scientist Challenge competition. The 13th annual contest called for students in grades 5-to-8 to submit a video demonstrating an innovation that could provide a solution to an everyday problem, according to a news release.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is the cause of hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide and was declared a worldwide pandemic and public health emergency earlier this year. With the virus continuing to spread far and wide, there is an urgent need to find an effective anti-coronavirus drug.

In her study, Chebrolu discovered a molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2. Binding and inhibiting this viral protein would potentially stop the virus entry into the cell, creating a viable drug target. In her research, Chebrolu screened millions of small molecules for drug-likeness properties, ADMET properties, and binding affinities against the spike protein using numerous software tools.

The one molecule with the best pharmacological and biological activity towards the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was chosen as the lead molecule that could be a potential drug for the effective treatment of COVID-19, the release notes. For the first time in the history of the competition, the 3M Young Scientist Challenge showcased the top 10 finalist projects and announced this year’s winner in a virtual event, held Oct. 12-13.

Anika Chebrolu’s award winning invention uses in-silico methodology to discover a lead molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. “The last two days, I saw that there is a lot of media hype about my project since it involves the SARS-CoV-2 virus and it reflects our collective hopes to end this pandemic as I, like everyone else, wish that we go back to our normal lives soon,” Anika told CNN.

When it comes to iconic sneakers, heck, when it comes to the entire history of footwear, you’d be hard-pressed to come up with a more beloved or influential shoe than the Superstar. Anika said she was inspired to find potential cures to viruses after learning about the 1918 flu pandemic and finding out how many people die every year in the United States despite annual vaccinations and anti-influenza drugs on the market.

“Anika has an inquisitive mind and used her curiosity to ask questions about a vaccine for Covid-19,” Dr. Cindy Moss, a judge for the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, told CNN. “Her work was comprehensive and examined numerous databases. She also developed an understanding of the innovation process and is a masterful communicator. Her willingness to use her time and talent to help make the world a better place gives us all hope.”

Anika, who performs Bharatanatyam, an ancient Indian dance, said winning the prize and title of top young scientist is an honor, but her work isn’t done. Her next goal, she says, is to work alongside scientists and researchers who are fighting to “control the morbidity and mortality” of the pandemic by developing her findings into an actual cure for the virus.

“My effort to find a lead compound to bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus this summer may appear to be a drop in the ocean, but still adds to all these efforts,” she said. “How I develop this molecule further with the help of virologists and drug development specialists will determine the success of these efforts.”

An eighth-grader at Nelson Middle School, Chebrolu at the time of entry, competed against nine other finalists in an interactive virtual competition. Each finalist was evaluated on a series of challenges and the presentation of their completed innovation. These young inventors – aged 12-14 – won the top ten spots in this year’s challenge through their innovative thinking, scientific acumen, and display of exceptional communication skills, the release added.

“Amidst the challenges of a global pandemic, quality STEM education for all has become an even more urgent need, and 3M’s commitment to fostering the next generation of science leaders has never been more determined,” said Denise Rutherford, senior vice president of Corporate Affairs at 3M.

“In spite of challenges, like adjusting to new norms of distance learning and participating in virtual events, this year’s 3M Young Scientist Challenge finalists have smashed through barriers with grit, creativity, innovative thinking, and excitement – all in the name of applying science to improve lives. 3M is inspired by these young innovators and we celebrate each one of them. Our heartfelt congratulations go to this year’s winner, Anika Chebrolu, and our many thanks to all our 3M Young Scientist Challenge finalists,” Rutherford added.

Over the past few months, each 3M Young Scientist Challenge finalist worked with a 3M scientist who played the role of mentor and worked one-on-one with each finalist to transform their idea from concept to physical prototype. Chebrolu was paired with Dr. Mahfuza Ali, a 3M corporate scientist in the materials resource division and a recent Carlton Society inductee.

As part of the program, challenge finalists received a variety of prizes from 3M and Discovery Education. The grand prize winner received a $25,000 cash prize, the prestigious title of “America’s Top Young Scientist,” and a special destination trip. The second and third place winners each received a $1,000 prize and a special destination trip.

In third place, Laasya Acharya, a seventh-grader at Mason Middle School in Mason City School District from Mason, Ohio. The Indian American student utilized a neural network to detect crop diseases through image analysis. The fourth through tenth place winners each receive a $1,000 prize and a $500 excitations gift card.

Among them were Ekansh Mittal from Beaverton, Ore., an eighth-grader at Meadow Park Middle School in the Beaverton School District; Harsha Pillarisetti from San Ramon, Calif., an eighth-grader at Windemere Ranch Middle School in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District; Samhita Pokkunuri from Old Bridge, N.J., a seventh-grader at Carl Sandburg Middle School in the Old Bridge Township Public School District; and Samvrit Rao from Ashburn, Va., a seventh-grader at Stone Hill Middle School in the Loudoun County Public School District.

“Because of the immense severity of the Covid-19 pandemic and the drastic impact it had made on the world in such a short time, I, with the help of my mentor, changed directions to target the SARS-CoV-2 virus.” The teen said she was inspired to find potential cures to viruses after learning about the 1918 flu pandemic and finding out how many people die every year in the United States despite annual vaccinations and anti-influenza drugs on the market. Anika said winning the prize and title of Top Young Scientist is an honor, but her work isn’t done.

Who Will Win An Electoral College Majority In 2020?

A big question heading into this cycle was whether Democrats’ best path to winning back the White House ran through the Sun Belt or the Great Lakes (i.e. Rust Belt). While we won’t know for certain which pathway was best for them until the votes are actually counted, the current data shows a pretty clear divide.  If former Vice President Joe Biden is to win this election, his best chance probably runs through the Great Lakes.

Two new polls out Sunday morning are demonstrative of a larger trend. Biden was up 51% to 46% in a CBS News/YouGov poll in Wisconsin. CBS News/YouGov also found Biden at 50% to President Donald Trump’s 47% in Arizona, a result well within the margin of error. These polls taken in isolation wouldn’t be that noteworthy, but they speak to the larger aggregate.

Hillary Clinton won contests containing 232 electoral votes. Were Biden to hold the Clinton states (and polls indicate that he probably will), he needs to find an extra 38 electoral votes. Those extra 38 electoral votes are likely to come from the six closest states Trump won in 2016: Arizona (11 electoral votes), Florida (29 electoral votes), Michigan (16 electoral votes), North Carolina (15 electoral votes), Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes) and Wisconsin (10 electoral votes). You can also add in the one electoral vote from Nebraska’s Second Congressional District, which Trump won by just 2 points in 2016.

The 2016 presidential election was a bracing reminder that the presidency is won or lost in the states and not in the national popular vote. Donald Trump lost nationally by 2.9 million votes (2.1% of the total cast) while winning a comfortable Electoral College majority.

Can he repeat this feat in 2020? Yes. Can he do it if he loses the national popular vote by a larger margin than four years ago? Probably not. To win reelection, President Trump will have to reduce Joe Biden’s national vote advantage, which now stands at more than 10 percentage points, by about 8 points during the final two weeks of the campaign, an accomplishment for which there’s no clear precedent in American history. If he falls just short of replicating his 2016 showing, the country could be plunged into a dangerous political and legal struggle combining the worst features of 2000 and 1876.

Having learned their lesson in 2016, when pollsters for various media companies had pretty good estimates of the eventual national vote but did missed significantly in what turned out to be the crucial states, survey researchers are doing more polls with higher quality in the swing states this year. This enables us to gauge with some confidence the current situation in the 13 states that could conceivably swing into either party’s column, either now or at some point in 2020.

Table 1: Biden lead in swing states


Biden lead (deficit) [Percentage points]















New Hampshire


North Carolina










Source: FiveThirtyEight


As of now, Joe Biden leads in 11 of these 13 states. By contrast, Donald Trump won ten of them in 2016 and Hillary Clinton only three (New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Nevada). Of these three states, Biden’s lead in New Hampshire and Minnesota is too large to surmount, barring a political earthquake. Trump has an outside chance to prevail in only one Clinton state—Nevada—and to do so, he would have to improve his current standing substantially.

Looking at the current swing state polling against the backdrop of the national popular vote average enables us to project four possible scenarios.

Scenario 1. Trump cuts Biden’s lead in half

Suppose that the non-stop live-event campaign the Trump team has planned cuts Joe Biden’s lead in half, from 10 points to 5. In this scenario, Trump would win the two states where he currently leads—Ohio and Texas—and would pick up Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, and North Carolina. Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Nevada would remain in the Biden column. President Trump would win 258 electoral votes, 12 short of a majority.

Scenario 2. Trump cuts Biden’s lead to 4 points

Suppose President Trump does even better, cutting Biden’s popular vote lead to just 4 points. It turns out that this would have no effect on Electoral College outcome, because Biden would still carry the three midwestern “Blue Wall” states plus Nevada.

Scenario 3. Trump cuts Biden’s lead to 2 points

Suppose President Trump’s campaign is so effective that he cuts Biden’s popular vote margin to just 2 points, replicating the 2016 results. In this event, Trump would carry all the states he won in 2016 plus Nevada—a total of 312 electoral votes.

Scenario 4: The nightmare

Suppose President Trump cuts Biden’s lead to 3 points. Although Nevada probably would fall into his hands, Pennsylvania would be too close to call. In this event, the state that most observers believe has the highest potential for electoral delays and snafus in counting mail-in ballots would determine the outcome of the race. This would all but guarantee a replay of the Florida controversy in 2000 that ended with Bush v. Gore, but with a much higher level of partisan polarization, more intense divisions over the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, and heightened threats of civil disorder. While it may not reach the level of rancor following the disputed 1876 election—when the post-Civil War Reconstruction era came to its bitter end—it could make the disputed 2000 election look tame by comparison.

There’s an obvious objection to my analysis: I’ve assumed that shifts in the national popular vote would be evenly distributed across the states. Isn’t it possible that the swing states might diverge significantly from the national average?

While no one can rule this out, there’s important evidence to the contrary. The 4.3 percentage-point reduction in President Trump’s support between 2016 and today has been distributed remarkably evenly among the swing states, as shown in Table 2.

Table 2


Trump 2016

Trump 2020






























New Hampshire




North Carolina




















Sources: State Secretaries of State; FiveThirtyEight


The bottom line: with only one outlier (Nevada), the change in President Trump’s support between 2016 and 2020 has been remarkably uniform, both among the swing states and between those states and the rest of the country. Although the electoral college results will be determined by the individual states, the 2020 election is being shaped much more by national factors than by differences among the states. The implication is that President Trump will not be able to overcome Joe Biden’s current Electoral College lead, which is substantial, unless he can reduce Biden’s national popular vote advantage to roughly the 2-point difference of 2016. The worst-case outcome is that Trump gets close to this result without equaling it, leaving the outcome of the election in doubt and throwing the country into chaos under highly adverse circumstance

An examination of the demographic voting patterns in the last few cycles and national polls indicate that Biden’s relative strength in the Great Lakes makes a lot of sense.

Remember that Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin formed part of what was deemed “the blue wall” heading into the 2016 election. All three states had voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1992.

Trump was able to break through that blue wall because of his strength among White voters without a college degree. These voters make up about 50% or more of the voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. They make up a significantly lower percentage in the Sun Belt, which is more racially diverse.

And if you still don’t believe the polls, just look at the results in 2018 and the actions of the Biden campaign. House Democrats did significantly better in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin than in Arizona, Florida and North Carolina. They also won the governorship and Senate races in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in 2018.

There’s a reason why Biden based his campaign in Philadelphia and has been outspending Trump by factors of greater than 2:1 in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

For Trump to win, he’ll probably need to knock down the big blue wall again. If he can’t, Biden’s probably the next president

What Will Sway Indian American Voters: Biden-Harris Ticket? Or, Trump-Modi Ties?

A new poll has revealed that Indian-American voters were unlikely to be swayed by either Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden’s selection of Indian-origin Kamala Harris as his running mate or the relationship between US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey (IAAS) has also revealed that significant attention is also being paid to the community because of an emerging narrative that Trump-Modi friendship, “compounded by concerns over how a Biden administration might manage US-India ties, will push Indian-Americans to abandon the Democratic Party in droves”, the American Bazaar reported on Wednesday.

Presently, the Indian-American community makes up for less than 1 per cent of all registered voters in the US. The data further showed that Indian-Americans continue to be strongly attached to the Democratic Party, with little indication of a shift towards the Republican Party.

In addition, Indian-Americans view US-India relations as a low priority issue in this electoral cycle, and focusing more on national issues such as healthcare and economy. According to the poll, 72 per cent of registered Indian-American voters plan to vote for Biden and 22 per cent for Trump in the November 3 election.

The survey has also found that 64 per cent of respondents who identify as Independents (about one-eighth of all Indian-American voters) will back Biden, while 22 per cent intend to vote for Trump. Meanwhile, a smaller percentage of Indian-Americans who voted for Trump in 2016 (68 per cent) plan to support him again in 2020, the American Bazaar reported.

According to the poll, four demographics stand out in the Indian-Americans’ presidential vote choice — first, there was no linear relationship between age and vote choice.

Seventy-five per cent of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 intend to vote for Biden.

Second, Indians of all religious faiths prefer Biden to Trump.

Third, support for Biden is greater among US-born citizens (71 per cent) than naturalized citizens (66 per cent), and fourth, the community’s attitude does not exhibit a strong gender gap, in contrast to the US population as a whole.

During the 2016 election campaign around this time, then-candidate Donald Trump addressed a large, glamorous rally of thousands of cheering Hindus, the first time a US presidential candidate reached out to the followers of the faith. But this time there won’t be such an event.

The Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC), which organized the event on October 15, 2016, in New Jersey, is scaling back its campaign for Trump and will not hold events for him unless he gives an assurance on immigration reform, according to its founder Shalabh Kumar. Kumar told IANS that he and the group’s members would continue to support Trump and urge Hindus to vote for him, but will not hold any campaign events like the one in 2016 which was attended by over 8,000 people.

In the US, electioneering based on religious appeal is legal and common at all levels. “We are asking all our members to support Trump in their individual capacity to vote for Trump and for Republicans in general,” Kumar said.

The Trump campaign, meanwhile, has launched an outreach under its own umbrella called the ‘Hindu Voices for Trump’, as part of a multi-pronged drive that also separately targets Sikhs, Muslims and Indian-Americans in general.

For the first time, Democrats have also reached out to members of the religion with a “Hindus for Biden” initiative spearheaded by Raja Krishnamoorthi, a member of the House of Representatives. In the past, the Democrats’ explicit outreach had been to religions like Islam and Judaism and excluded Hinduism.

While Trump speaks of merit-based immigration there are about a million people caught up in the Green Card backlog and “they are in great pain”, he said. The RHC wants a commitment from Trump that he would introduce a system of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) that would allow people waiting for five or more years for their Green Cards to indefinitely work and live in the US till their numbers come up for it, he said.

According to Republican Senator Mike Lee’s estimate, the backlog is so bad that for some Indians the wait could take 195 years for a Green Card, which gives permanent immigrant status and puts the recipients in the pipeline to full citizenship. The EAD would be a bridge to Green Card pending immigration reforms to clear the backlog, Kumar said.

A new poll has revealed that Indian-Americans overwhelmingly support the Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for the November 3 election with “great enthusiasm”, generated by having Kamala Harris as the Vice Presidential candidate.

The poll released on Thursday reported that 72 per cent of registered Indian-American voters said that they planned to vote for the Biden-Harris ticket and only 22 per cent for President Donald Trump. The poll showed a slight erosion of five per cent in support to Biden among Indian-Americans compared to the 77 per cent Hillary Clinton had received from them in 2016, according to the 2016 Post-Election National Asian American Survey, while Trump seemed to have improved his support level by six per cent compared to the 16 per cent in the last election.

But despite the small numbers, the community’s support is avidly sought by both parties. “Even though Indian Americans comprise slightly more than one per cent of the total US population e and less than one per cent of all registered voters e both major parties are leaving no stone unturned in reaching out to this community (perhaps mindful of the closeness of the 2016 elections),” according to the Carnegies analysis of the IAAS poll.

18th Annual SF International South Asian Film Festival to Pay Homage to Irrfan Khan

3rd i Films announced that from Oct. 23 through Oct. 25, it will hold its 18th annual San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival by way of a virtual event. From art-house classics to documentaries, from innovative and experimental visions to cutting-edge Bollywood, 3rd i Films is committed to promoting diverse images of South Asians through independent film, the company said in a news release. To keep connected and support the South Asian community, 3rd i’s film festival, “Bollywood and Beyond,” will be offered for free this year as a completely virtual experience.

Festival attendees can access scheduled screenings and filmmaker discussions from the safety of their homes, after registering online. The three-day festival will screen a select program of narrative features and shorts by independent filmmakers from South Asia and its diaspora, including stories from India, South Africa and the Pakistani and Sikh communities in the U.S., the release notes.

This year’s festival presents an homage to one of the greats of Indian cinema, Irrfan Khan, who lost his battle with cancer in early 2020. Khan made the crossover from Bollywood films to international acclaim, starring in some of the most memorable films of the last few decades, including “The Lunchbox,” “The Namesake,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “Spiderman,” “Life of Pi,” “The Warrior,” “Paan Singh Tomar” and “Maqbool,” the film company notes.

For this year’s festival, 3rd i Films brings back “Road to Ladakh” (which premiered at 3rd i’s inaugural festival in 2003) – a sensual suspenseful love story revolving around an encounter between two strangers thrown together by chance into the magnificent wilderness of Ladakh, near the borders of India and Pakistan.

Ladakh has recently been in the news as it was annexed by India’s central government after having been an independent union territory since the country’s independence, noted the release. A post-screening discussion will follow with Oscar nominee director Ashvin Kumar. It is free with registration, the release added.

Another film from the 3rd i archives this year is Avie Luthra’s “Lucky,” a narrative based on a short of the same name, which was nominated for an Oscar award in 2005. 3rd i has been bringing Bay Area audiences some of the best indie narratives on the circuit for nearly two decades, and this year is no different in that regard, the release said.

In this year’s offering, a crossword puzzle master and a young student develop a “cat and mouse” relationship in an enigmatic and engrossing psychological thriller set against the stunning locales of the hill-station Darjeeling.

“Knock, Knock, Knock” (2019) is the latest film from the director of “Love” (which 3rd i copresented at Frameline41), debuting at the Busan International Film Festival 2019. In addition to winning Best Screenplay at the New York Indian Film Festival, it has received the Gold Remi at WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, a prize previously awarded to Stephen Spielberg, Ang Lee and the Coen Brothers.

A post-screening discussion will follow with director Sudhanshu Saria, free with registration, the film company adds. 3rd i’s spotlight on performing artists focuses on two who have been honing their craft with our audiences for years, and are now at the peak of their form.

Queer actress, director, and creator Fawzia Mirza was born in Canada, but now calls the U.S. her home, and uses comedy to tackle divisive stereotypes. She has been hailed a White House “Champion of Change” in Asian American Art & Storytelling, a “Top 10 Creative” (Indiewire), and “10 Filmmakers to Watch” (Independent Magazine).

The 3rd i evening ‘Levity and Artivism’ with Fawzia Mirza will showcase her short films from 2012-2019 including “Queen of My Dreams” (2012) and “I Know Her” (2019), which recently made the rounds of the Cannes Film Festival. 

Additionally, the second performing artist, Seti X, will present “Word to Your Motherland,” a short film followed by a performance by the co-founder of Slumgods, India’s first All Hip-Hop Collective, and a 3rd i artist alum.

Born in Los Angeles, Seti X has toured internationally representing South Asian American Hip-Hop, sharing the stage with the likes of Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Public Enemy, Ziggy Marley and more. He has appeared on CNN’s Emmy Award winning show, “United Shades of America,” with W. Kamau Bell. Seti X will explore the trajectory of artists who have pioneered this space, as well as the current musical landscapes of South Asian American artists reclaiming their culture and expressing themselves through Hip-Hop Music.

More information about the festival is available on their website at: www.thirdi.org

Manushi Chillar Is Adidas Brand Ambassador

The winner of Miss World 2017 and Bollywood debutant Manushi Chhillar has been roped in by fitness and sportswear brand Adidas as its female brand ambassador. Manushi’s association with the brand is her first global brand endorsement deal.

Commenting on the association, she said: “I’m super excited to be a part of the Adidas family. It is an honour to be a part of a legacy brand like Adidas that is synonymous to anything related to sports and fitness. To be among some of the global titans of the sports and entertainment industry, as the brand ambassador for India, is a huge moment for me that I will cherish forever.”

The model and actress is all set to debut opposite Akshay Kumar in the magnum opus “Prithviraj”. Directed by Chandraprakash Dwivedi, “Prithviraj” is based on the life of king Prithviraj Chauhan. It stars Akshay as Prithviraj, while Manushi will play the role of the Sanyogita, the love of his life. 

Chhillar has joined the league of star cricketer Rohit Sharma, sprint sensation Hima Das and Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh as brand ambassador of the Indian arm of German sports brand Adidas. The footwear giant said Chillar will lead Adidas’s mission to inspire more women to embrace fitness.

With this, Chhillar joins a powerful roster of Adidas ambassadors, including Ranveer Singh, Rohit Sharma, Hima Das and over 20 other top athletes and youth icons who are redefining India’s sporting and fitness culture, the company said in a press relese.

Chhillar will join the #HOMETEAMHERO Challenge, a campaign that supports the WHO COVID-19 Response Fund, to inspire people across the globe, including India, to stay physically and mentally fit.

“Amidst COVID-19 lockdown, when thousands are looking for inspiration, adidas has been leading the charge with #HOMETEAMHERO Challenge — inspiring more people every single day to stay physically and mentally fit. Joining adidas in this endeavour is fitness enthusiast and former Miss World 2017 Manushi Chhillar,” a release said.

“Announced as a brand ambassador today, Manushi will be front-running Adidas’ mission to inspire more women to embrace fitness, whilst creating a positive social impact through the power of sport,” the company said.

Adidas said it will donate $1 for every hour of fitness activity clocked on the Adidas Running and Adidas Training apps till 7 June.

Speaking on the development, Chhillar said, “I have always been into fitness so to represent Adidas is a dream come true.”

“I resonate with Adidas when it comes to being change makers and our aim together is to use the platform of sport to inspire people and drive positive change, whether it is to inspire women, drive sustainability, or encourage kids to take up sport. I’m so excited to train in my new gear which I’ve just ordered from the Adidas website.”

Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) renewal date extended

New York – Instructions about re-issuance of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Card

The following OCI guidelines have been in force since 2005:

  • OCI card is required to be re-issued each time a new passport is acquired by the
    cardholder up to the age of 20 years.
  • OCI card is required to be re-issued once on acquiring a new passport after
    completing 50 years of age.

2. The Government of India has decided to grant further extension in time till December 30, 2020 to get the OCI cards re-issued in accordance with the above guidelines.
For latest information please visit Consulate’s website: www.indiainnewyork.gov.in

3.It is, however, advised that OCI cardholders renew their OCI cards as per the

above mentioned guidelines.

More information on https://pramit.indiainnewyork.gov.in/

Antiviral Drug Remdesivir Proves Ineffective In Treating Covid-19, WHO Study Finds

The antiviral drug remdesivir had little or no effect in treating patients hospitalized with Covid-19, according to a study that has not yet been peer reviewed, but was coordinated by the World Health Organization and released on Thursday, casting doubt on one of the few promising treatments for the coronavirus.

Key Facts

Deeming it “the world’s largest randomized control trial on Covid-19 therapeutics,” the six-month long study of four drugs—remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon—proved “unpromising.”

“The main outcomes of mortality, initiation of ventilation and hospitalization duration were not clearly reduced by any study drug,” the study reads.

Over 11,000 adults across 30 countries and 405 hospitals were studied to come to these results.

Regimens involving the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine have already been proven ineffective, but remdesivir appeared to be one of the few therapies to prove effective in combating Covid-19 symptoms.

The WHO’s results come just a week after a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found remdesivir shortened the time of recovery for adults hospitalized with Covid-19.

President Trump, who contracted Covid-19 and spent time at Walter Reed hospital upon suffering from symptoms, was administered remdesivir as part of his treatment.

Key Background

Remdesivir is the only specific drug with an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. A vaccine for Covid-19 isn’t expected for approval until the end of the year, and even then, it will take months before there’s enough widespread distribution. Several countries like France are experiencing record daily case numbers in October. The United States continues to be the hardest hit. Despite having 4% of the world’s population, the country owns nearly 21% of all cases with almost 8 million and 20% of global deaths with around 218,000.

UN Empresses dismayed at restrictions on Human Rights, NGOs and arrests of activists in India

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Tuesday appealed to the Government of India to safeguard the rights of human rights defenders and NGOs, and their ability to carry out their crucial work on behalf of the many groups they represent. Bachelet expressed regret at the tightening of space for human rights NGOs in particular, including by the application of vaguely worded laws that constrain NGOs’ activities and restrict foreign funding.

“India has long had a strong civil society, which has been at the forefront of groundbreaking human rights advocacy within the country and globally,” the High Commissioner said. “But I am concerned that vaguely defined laws are increasingly being used to stifle these voices.”

Bachelet cited as worrying the use of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), which a number of UN human rights bodies* have also expressed concern is vaguely worded and overbroad in its objective. The Act prohibits the receipt of foreign funds “for any activities prejudicial to the public interest.”

The Act, which was adopted in 2010 and was amended last month, has had a detrimental impact on the right to freedom of association and expression of human rights NGOs, and as a result on their ability to serve as effective advocates to protect and promote human rights in India. It is expected that the new amendments will create even more administrative and practical hurdles for such advocacy-based NGOs. Most recently, Amnesty International was compelled to close its offices in India after its bank accounts were frozen over alleged violation of the FCRA.

“The FCRA has been invoked over the years to justify an array of highly intrusive measures, ranging from official raids on NGO offices and freezing of bank accounts, to suspension or cancellation of registration, including of civil society organizations that have engaged with UN human rights bodies,” Bachelet said.

“I am concerned that such actions based on the grounds of vaguely defined ‘public interest’ leave this law open to abuse, and that it is indeed actually being used to deter or punish NGOs for human rights reporting and advocacy that the authorities perceive as critical in nature. Constructive criticism is the lifeblood of democracy. Even if the authorities find it uncomfortable, it should never be criminalized or outlawed in this way.”

The UN Human Rights Committee – which oversees implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which India is a party – has found** that when a State invokes national security and protection of public order as a reason to restrict the right to freedom of association, the State party must show the specific nature of the threat or risks posed, and limit its responses to those necessary and proportionate to address such threat or risks.

Activists and human rights defenders have also come under mounting pressure in recent months, particularly because of their engagement in mass protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act that took place across the country earlier this year. More than 1,500 people have reportedly been arrested in relation to the protests, with many charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act – a law which has also been widely criticized for its lack of conformity with international human rights standards.

Charges have also been filed under this law against a number of individuals in connection with demonstrations that date back to 2018. Most recently, the 83-year-old Catholic priest Stan Swamy, a long-standing activist engaged in defending the rights of marginalized groups, was charged and reportedly remains in detention, despite his poor health.

“I urge the Government to ensure that no one else is detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly – and to do its utmost, in law and policy, to protect India’s robust civil society,” the High Commissioner said. “I also urge the authorities to carefully review the FCRA for its compliance with international human rights standards and to release people charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for simply exercising basic human rights that India is obligated to protect.”

Earlier this year, in a welcome development for advocacy-based NGOs, India’s Supreme Court significantly narrowed the definition of what constitutes a “political activity” under the FCRA. “I encourage India’s national institutions to strengthen the social and legal protections that enable civil society to function freely and contribute to progress,” the High Commissioner said.

Bachelet said the UN Human Rights Office would continue to closely engage with the Government of India on issues relating to the promotion and protection of human rights, and will also continue to monitor developments that positively and negatively affect civic space and fundamental rights and freedoms.

NASA and Nokia are putting a 4G network on the moon

If you’re unable to get a cell phone signal when you walk your dog around the block, this will really make your blood boil: NASA is putting a 4G network on the moon.

To reach its 2028 goal to build a lunar base and eventually sustain a human presence on the moon, NASA awarded $370 million to over a dozen companies to deploy technology on the lunar surface. Those innovations include remote power generation, cryogenic freezing, robotics, safer landing … and 4G. Because how else will astronauts tweet their moon golf shots and lunar rover selfies?

NASA says 4G could provide more reliable, longer-distance communication than the current radio standards in place on the moon. Like on Earth, the 4G network will eventually be upgraded to 5G. Nokia’s (NOK) Bell Labs was granted $14.1 million for the project. Bell Labs, formerly operated by AT&T, will partner with spaceflight engineering company Intuitive Machines to build out the 4G-LTE network.

It’s hard to believe, but there was a time when work shoes were work shoes, sports shoes were sports shoes and leisure shoes were leisure shoes. Those lines were never crossed.

John Oliver jokes about CNN parent company AT&T (T) aside, 4G will probably work better on the moon than it does here — it won’t have any trees, buildings or TV signals to interfere with the 4G signal. The moon’s cellular network will also be specially designed to withstand the particularities of the lunar surface: extreme temperature, radiation and space’s vacuum. It will also stay functional during lunar landings and launches, even though rockets significantly vibrate the moon’s surface.

Bell Labs said astronauts will use its wireless network for data transmission, controlling of lunar rovers, real-time navigation over lunar geography (think Google Maps for the moon), and streaming of high-definition video. That could give us stuck on Earth a much better shot of astronauts bouncing around on the lunar surface: Buzz Aldrin was a great cameraman, but he didn’t have an iPhone.

The 4G network on Earth is supported by giant cell towers with enormous power generators and radios. But Bell Labs helped create small cell technology that’s more limited in range but uses far less power than traditional cell towers and is significantly easier to pack into a rocket ship. That small cell tech is currently being deployed for 5G networks across the world.

Tools for Human Empowerment through Dharma

On October 1, the Vedic Friends Association (VFA) hosted their 2.0 Launch Event, “Tools for Human Empowerment – a Yogic Perspective”. It was a first of its kind virtual presentation via Zoom and Facebook Live, highlighting their continued commitment “to present, preserve, protect and promote the principles and practices of Universal Dharma”. The event was well attended globally as renowned scholars shared the mission behind VFA and their vision for the future.

 The event was co-hosted by Anjali Nagrani, the Joint Secretary of VFA, and the current President, Benny Tillman (Balabhadra Bhattacharya Dasa) who gave the opening remarks, expressing his delight to the panelists for their participation and to the audience for their anticipation of the upcoming discovery of spiritual tools everyone could avail themselves of to empower them for facing the future.

VFA’s founding President and current Co-Chairman, Stephen Knapp (Sri Nandanandana Dasa) was the first speaker. He shared a brief historical overview of VFA and its progress to the present day, stressing the fact that adopting a Vedic culture could help individuals to develop their highest potential towards leading a fulfilling life. Initially, VFA’s focus was on western audiences but he soon discovered on visits to India, that Indian audiences too, needed guidance in how to preserve their own culture; particularly given the threats from political and religious elements and the influence of western materialism on younger generations.

 Our second speaker was Jeffrey Armstrong (Kavindra Rishi), Co-Founder and the current Co-Chairman of VFA. He eloquently mentioned how much Vedic wisdom emerging from India has relevance and importance in present day world order. He shared a fitting analogy comparing and contrasting the current bug, COVID-19, to another bug – the “Vedic bug”, which is rapidly spreading across the world. And unlike its counterpart, this particular bug is actually helping us! Especially in the current global pandemic environment, in simplistic ways by encouraging us to adopt ‘Namaste’ instead of shaking hands as a way to greet fellow human beings. Namaste means I respect you as my fellow time travelers, who like me, are also on a beautiful, divine journey of learning, a learning to respect others as divine beings.

Jeffrey Armstrong also described a project he has been working for the past 10 years. He believes that many ideas explained in Vedic culture (in Sanskrit) do not have corresponding words in English and that becomes a barrier in understanding Vedic wisdom for the present generation. So he has taken it as a mission to write Bhagawad Gita verses in English, with Sanskrit words embedded wherever applicable, so the concept presented by that verse does not get convoluted. Those Sanskrit words will then be described in the glossary to explain their meanings in the best possible way. He concluded with the message that if we are able to explain the tenets, principles and tools of the Vedic wisdom to new generations in their own languages, without losing the real essence of it, this would be our biggest service (sewa) to humanity. One should promote Vedic culture with calmness, respect and an open mind. There is a greater need to preach ‘Dharm-ocracy’ – the principle foundation of Vedic Culture, where we honor the thought leaders of every civilization, we honor all religions and we have harmonious relationships with everyone on the planet.

 Padma Bhushan, Dr. David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri) was the final speaker. A Vedic teacher and renowned author, Dr. Frawley spoke of his extensive travels to India, which he described as the “Land of Vedic culture”. He has witnessed the revival of Vedic culture in India and worldwide as a positive development. There are Indian communities across the world making a significant difference in the development of their resident nations. Not only are more temples being built, but there is also increased awareness of yoga, Ayurveda, and other Vedic practices globally. He concluded by explaining that one could raise their consciousness with the aid of Vedic practices, driving the use of technology for the benefit of mankind, thereby improving the quality of our lives.

 Vijai Ganapa, the current Global Coordinator of VFA, thanked the organizations who work with and support VFA, in its various projects and programs around the world. Notably mentioned are AOL, ISKCON, Sewa International, VFPA, Hindu Service Foundation and Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS). Prakash Srivastava provided technical support for the live event. The event was concluded by Balabhadra Dasa thanking the guest speakers and audience for their participation and hinted at more such events being hosted in the near future.

VFA is a Non­-Profit Organization with 501C3 and tax exempt status. It’s a Cultural organization based on Socio-Spiritual-Scientific understanding. The essence is Always Being Conscious of Dharma. Accept and Respect all Vedic traditions and paths. It’s open to all, with focus on Yoga Practitioners and Vedic Followers. Having open door policy, where all ideas are welcome. We offer services like Educational Access, Cultural Celebrations and Social Outreach.

 “Our Mission is to Present, Preserve, Protect and Promote the Principles and Practices of the Universal Dharma, in all its dimensions”. “We are a group of people, who are individually working in various ways to spread a greater understanding of what the Vedic Dharma culture and philosophy is and what it has to offer. We have been doing this for years separately but have now joined together. We invite everyone else to join us and become Dharma Ambassadors to the world”

World Restart A Heart Day Organized

Dr. Vemuri S. Murthy, an advocate of Community and Physician resuscitation education and training for more than three decades in USA and India, is a past President of the Chicago Medical Society and current adjunct Faculty in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Illinois @ Chicago College of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois. He is the Founder of Chicago Medical Society’s Community CPR Project SMILE (Saving More Illinois Lives through Education).

 In a recent interview, Dr. Vemuri Murthy shared his thoughts and concerns regarding current status of the out- of- hospital cardiac arrests and diminishing bystander resuscitation help during COVID-19 pandemic. According to the American Heart Association, there are more than 356,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests annually in the U.S. (2018 update).Nearly 90% of them are fatal. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival. In majority of cases, immediate Hands-only CPR may have similar survival outcomes comparable to the conventional CPR performed with both chest compressions and breaths.

Global evidence-based information has proven that Bystander CPR is life-saving in sudden cardiac arrest. The latter is recognized by sudden collapse of the person without any breathing, pulse or consciousness. It’s important to call 911 first before performing Hands-only CPR. The bystander performing CPR needs to cover the mouth and nose fully with a face mask or cloth. The victim’s mouth and nose must be covered too with a face mask or cloth. Performing Hands-Only CPR involves pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute. Automated External Defibrillator (AED) needs to be utilized as soon as it’s available. This high-quality CPR should be continued by the bystander until the  arrival of paramedics. It’s important to follow the Good Samaritan Laws of a particular US State while performing Bystander CPR.

Personal protection from any potential droplet infection is of paramount importance while managing any person in cardiac arrest, as the COVID-19 status of the victim may be unknown. The bystander needs to thoroughly wash the hands with soap and water after providing CPR.

Dr. Vemuri S. Murthy (Chicago Medical Society’s COVID-19 Task Force) appeals for practicing three basic preventive measures during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Wearing a Mask covering the mouth and nose, Washing Hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, and watching social distancing of at least 6 feet.

Covid-19 deaths in India may have exceeded 2.5 million: What expert panel says about lockdown, festivals

The government-appointed panel which studied the mathematical progression of Covid-19 numbers in the country said only 30 per cent of the population has developed immunity so far. The Centre had appointed a 10-member committee, headed by NITI Aayog member VK Paul, to study the mathematical progression of Covid-19 virus in India. The committee submitted its report on a day Union health minister Harsh Vardhan admitted community transmission of Covid-19 in certain pockets of a limited number of states in the country.

The study sheds light on where India stands in its fight against Covid-19 and what lies ahead.

  1. India may see an exponential increase of 26 lakh cases in a month because of the festival season if precautions are not followed.
  2. Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal are still seeing a rise in the number of cases, while elsewhere the pandemic has stabilised.
  3. A second wave of coronavirus can’t be ruled out in winter.
  4. Local lockdown are not effective now, but had there been no lockdown in March-April, India’s total deaths could have exceeded 25 lakh in August. The death toll now stands at 1.14 lakh.
  5. Only 30 per cent of the population has developed immunity so far.
  6. India reached the peak of Covid-19 in September and is now on the downward slope.
  7. The crisis is likely to be over by February 2021. By that time, there could be 10.5 million cases.
  8. Migrants didn’t make much difference to the number of overall infections.
  9. We have to be careful in the coming months also because of pollution on north India.
  10. The curve is flattened and early lockdown bolstered by better-equipped health care system helped in flattening the curve.

UCL T20 night tournament Final Cricket match; Anjuman Cricket team settle spectacular win against the Chicago Reds

UCL T20 Day League was held for the first time at Skokie Sports Park Cricket ground. Chief Guests present were Mr. George Van Dusen (Mayor of Skokie), Mr. Pramod C Shah (Board of Trustee, Skokie) Mr. Akhter Masood Chick (Former Pakistani Cricket player and former USACA President), Mr. Syed Mushtaq Hussain (UCL Advisor), Mr. Syed Iqbal (UCL Director), Mr. Mushtaq Saleem(Former Cricketer Moin-ud-Dowlah Gold Cup Tournament)Mr. Anwar Ul Haq (Board of Director) Mr. Mohammed Rafi and Commissioners of the Village of Skokie.

 Syed Mushtaq Hussain started his speech with a minute silence for people who lost their lives due to Covid 19 and the prize distribution ceremony was held, and later Lunch was served. United Cricket Day T20 League, closing ceremony was held on 11th October 2020 at Skokie Sports Park district cricket ground. Final match was played between Anjuman vs Chicago Reds. Chicago Reds scored 184 in first innings. Ahsan Syed of Anjuman played extraordinary innings of 121 runs and led his team to an easy Victory in Finals. Ahsan was Man of the Match. Salman Karbhai won Man of the Series, Best Batsman and Best Bowler. At the end both the teams have shown great sportsmanship. Cricket lovers came to support the final match.

Adil Azeem Khan (UCL President) wants to thank all the teams who participated in UCL Day League, Umpires Abdul Rauf & Shabbir Patel, league MC Sufiyan Dukanwala and also supporters who has supported the league. Adil Azeem (UCL president) humbly requests all cricket lovers to support cricket in Chicago. Specially thanks to our sponsors for the UCL Day League (First savings bank, Pepsi, Happy mortgage, Devon discount pharmacy, Air tour travels, Patel Brothers, Sabri Nahari and MP Jewelers.)

 Adil Azeem is very thankful to the management, Ayaz Patel( UCL web designer), Ahsan syed(scheduler), Sufiyan Dukaanwala(UCL Manager), Javed Patel (League Advisor), Shaik Ahmed(League Advisor), Athar Syed (League Advisor), Mohammed Afroz(League Advisor), Dr. Syed Ahmed(League Advisor), Arif Khan and thankful to Asian Media USA and Z TV Mr. & Mrs. Vandana Kumar.

Adil Azeem (UCL President) wants to invite all the teams, cricket lovers, sponsors for the closing ceremony to be held in December 2020 and Former Indian Cricketer are invited for the closing ceremony.

Quinoa & Smoked Tofu Salad (Vegan)

This super healthy salad is not just refreshing but also quick and easy to make.Loaded with protein and plant goodness you’ll never want to say no to trying this one for sure! How I developed this recipe I don’t know about many people out there, but I love tofu. It’s not only healthy but also a great vegan substitute for Indian cottage cheese (paneer). Smoked tofu is extra good for its unique flavour and thus elevates this salad a further bit more. Quinoa is one of the superfoods most health freaks are now aware of for its high dietary fibre content, high protein and lower carbs compared to wheat and rice. It’s not only a healthier carb substitute option, but also very delicious and easy to prepare when paired up beautifully in clever recipes.I had always wanted to come up with a great recipe with two of my above favourites that’s easy to follow and this accidental recipe turns out to be perfect not just when you are on a diet but also good enough to impress your guests at the dinner table. What’s special about this recipe High in plant protein—loaded with fibre rich low GI quinoa and soy protein-rich tofu, a serving of this salad is sure to fulfill a major portion of your day’s protein requirement for staying fit and healthy. It’s an ultimate guilt-free lean protein salad you’d choose over and over again. Veggie rich- It has got a lot of colourful veggies and green herbs- tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, parsley, mint- that’s both a treat for your eyes and rich in vitamins and minerals as well.  What you’ll need 1 cup quinoa 2 cups water1 teaspoon salt1/4 cup lemon juice3 tablespoons olive oil1/2teaspoon of freshly ground peppercorns 2 grated garlic cloves1/2 cup chopped cucumber 1/3 chopped cherry tomatoes 1/2 cup chopped yellow bell peppers 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves 2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves 1 cup chopped smoked tofu How to make . Bring water to boil with half a teaspoon of salt and cook the quinoa in it keeping the deep bottom pan closed- for about 15-20 minutes until the quinoa has cooked fluffy enough soaking up all the water. . At this point, turn off the heat, remove the lid, gently fluff up the quinoa with your spoon and let it cool down.. Meantime, prepare the dressing by whisking up the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, pepper and salt in a small bowl..Add the cooled down quinoa, tofu, veggies and the herbs into a bigger bowl and pour in the tangy dressing. Give it a good and gentle mix just enough to combine..Serve it right away in your favourite salad bowl. Notes, tips and suggestions -You could use plain tofu or other flavoured tofu (eg. coriander tofu) instead of the smoked tofu if you don’t prefer smokey flavour to the salad.-You could even use drained cooked/canned chickpeas or sprouts as a substitute for tofu, if you are not a fan of tofu or if you are allergic to soy.-Choice of veggies are also partially upto you, for you could totally feel free to add in more veggies or substitute veggies you don’t prefer in this recipe with peas, corn, olives, jalapeños,etc.

Joe Biden’s Lead Over Trump Is The Highest Since 1936

Former Vice President Joe Biden is dominating President Donald Trump in the latest polls. No, the election is not over yet, and Trump still has a non-negligible chance of winning. But a look through history reveals that Biden is in a better position at this point than any challenger since 1936, when the first scientific polls were taken in a presidential race.

In the 21 previous presidential elections since 1936, there have only been five challengers who led at this time. Of those five, only one (Bill Clinton in 1992) was ahead by more than 5 points. None of those five were earning more than 48% of the vote in the polls.  In other words, Biden is the first challenger to be above 50% at this late juncture in the campaign.

This also continues to mark a massive difference with the 2016 campaign. While Hillary Clinton was ahead of Trump by as high as 7 points in October 2016, she never came anywhere close to approaching 50% of the vote. Trump merely had to win the lionshare of the undecided or third party voters (who would bolt their candidate) to earn a victory in 2016.

The 2020 presidential campaign has been repeatedly rocked by seismic events – from the outbreak of a devastating pandemic to President Donald Trump contracting COVID-19. Yet in at least two important respects, not much has changed: Joe Biden continues to hold sizable advantages over Trump on most major issues and key personal traits, as well as in overall voter preferences. And voters continue to be highly focused on the election and attach great importance to its outcome.

With less than a month to go before the election, a majority of registered voters (57%) say they are very or somewhat confident in Biden to handle the public health impact of the coronavirus, while 40% express a similar level of confidence in Trump. In June, Biden held a narrower, 11 percentage point lead on handling the coronavirus outbreak (52% Biden, 41% Trump).

At a time of deep political divisions and partisan antipathy, voters are far more likely to express confidence in Biden than Trump to unify the country. Half of voters (50%) say they are confident in Biden to “bring the country closer together,” compared with just 30% who express confidence in Trump.

The new survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 5 among 11,929 U.S. adults, including 10,543 registered voters, finds that Biden maintains an overall lead in voter preferences: 52% of registered voters say if the election were held today, they would vote for Biden or lean toward voting for him, while 42% support or lean toward voting for Trump. Another 4% of voters back Libertarian Jo Jorgensen, while 1% support Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins in the 2020 election. (See detailed tables for full demographic breaks on voter preferences.)

The survey was in the field when Trump announced on Twitter, early on the morning of Oct. 2, that he and first lady Melania Trump had contracted COVID-19. There are no significant differences in voter preferences, or in confidence in the two candidates to handle the impact of the coronavirus, before and after his announcement.

Trump’s handling of the nation’s economy remains a relative strong point. About half of voters (52%) express confidence in Trump to make good decisions about economic policy, one the highest shares expressing confidence in the president on any of the six issues on the survey. However, about as many voters (51%) have confidence in Biden on the economy.

Since summer, there has been some improvement in views of the nation’s economy. Among all voters, 35% say economic conditions are excellent or good, up from 28% in June. However, this change has come almost entirely among Trump supporters. And the gap in economic perceptions, already wide, has grown much wider. Two-thirds (67%) of Trump supporters now say that economic conditions are excellent or good, compared with 51% who said this in June. Just 11% of Biden supporters view economic conditions positively, which is little changed from four months ago (9%).

The survey finds that voters view Biden much more positively than Trump for compassion, honesty and being a good role model. Nearly twice as many voters say “compassionate” describes Biden very or fairly well than say it applies to Trump (67% vs. 34%). More than half of voters (53%) say Biden is honest, compared with 35% who describe Trump as honest. And far more voters say Biden is a good role model (54% vs. 28%).

The ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Sunday was the latest poll to indicate Biden’s strength. Biden led Trump by a 55% to 43% margin among likely voters. The poll was the third high quality national poll published this week that had Biden up by at least 10 points and above 50%. The other two being from CNN/SSRS and Fox News.

Indeed, the average of polls has Biden at around 52% or 53% and up by somewhere between 10 and 11 points. This is an unprecedented position for a challenger with a mere 23 days to go until Election Day. Even if every undecided or current third party voter went to Trump now, he’d still be down about 5 to 6 points nationally. That’s never been the case with an incumbent since 1936 at this point.

Of course, it’s the Electoral College that matters. There are very few universes in which Trump could win the Electoral College, if he were to lose nationally by 5 to 6 points.  New polls out on Sunday from CBS News/YouGov demonstrate that Biden’s above 50% in some key battlegrounds. He leads 52% to 46% in Michigan and Nevada. In Iowa, a state that Trump took by 9 points in 2016 and is not anywhere close to must win for Biden, the race is tied at 49%.

A look under the hood reveals why Biden is in such a strong position. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, Covid-19 has either been, or been within the margin of error of being the nation’s most important problem in Gallup polling.

The three challengers in the polling era (Jimmy Carter in 1976, Ronald Reagan in 1980 and Bill Clinton in 1992) who defeated incumbents have all been trusted more than the incumbent to deal with what Americans thought was the nation’s most important problem. None, however, were trusted by more than 50% of the voters.

Today, Biden has a huge advantage over Trump when it comes to the pandemic. The clear majority (59%) of likely voters in the last CNN poll said Biden would better be able to handle the outbreak. Just 38% said Trump would do a better job than Biden.

Why Is Supreme Court Nomination of Amy Coney Barrett Very Controversial?

The death of a sitting justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has thrust the court into the center of a bruising political campaign for the White House. Republican President Donald Trump has nominated federal appellate judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacancy left by Ginsburg, even as Trump’s opponent, Democrat Joe Biden, calls for confirmation proceedings to be postponed until after voters have cast their ballots for president. Republicans control the U.S. Senate and have vowed to move forward with Barrett’s confirmation over the objections of Biden and other Democrats.

The battle to get Donald Trump’s nominee to the US Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, confirmed by the Senate began on Monday with Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings. The shifting ideological balance of the court will have an impact in all areas of American life and across the US – perhaps in no place more than Texas.

A 6-3 conservative majority in the court could directly attack Democratic Party priorities like government-managed healthcare and access to abortion services. While the political battle over Trump’s appointment of Barrett is taking place between the White House and Democratic senators in the US Capitol, some of the biggest legal fights that have made it to the Supreme Court in recent years have come out of Texas.

For instance, the current challenge to the Affordable Care Act – Barack Obama’s signature law when in office, aiming to expand access to healthcare – was brought by the state of Texas. It will come before the Supreme Court just days after the election, possibly with Barrett on the bench.

A major 2016 court decision on regulating abortion clinics also originated in the state, as did recent disputes over federal voting rights laws, the consideration of race in university admissions, the constitutionality of Obama-era immigration reforms. Texas was also a key player in several challenges to capital punishment, anti-sodomy laws and, going back to 1973, the landmark Roe v Wade decision that legalised abortion across the US.

Part of this, explains University of Texas law professor HW Perry, is a result of Texas being a large state, both in population and size, with interests touching on most aspects of American life. More recently, however, Texas’s prominence in high-profile court battles is the result of a concerted effort by the state’s top Republican politicians to become a major player in the conservative legal world.

“Texas has become quite a leader in pushing cases to the Supreme Court to get accepted for review, and then often they are the ones who wind up arguing it,” Perry says. “It’s developed this highly professionalised office which is also the one leading many of the other conservative states in getting cases before the Supreme Court.”

From 2013 to 2020, the state’s then-solicitor general, Scott Keller, argued 11 cases before the Supreme Court. The next closest state lawyer had four. Texas Governor Greg Abbott, when he served as the state’s attorney general, would frequently say of his job: “I go to the office, I sue the federal government, and then I go home.”

The state, which made a habit of pushing the boundaries of conservative law and causes, didn’t always win those high-profile cases. On anti-sodomy law, voting rights, the death penalty and, most recently, abortion, it was often on the short end of the judicial stick, many times by narrow, 5-to-4 decisions. With Ginsburg gone and Barrett poised to take a seat on the court, however, conservatives in Texas are optimistic that the legal tide may be turning.

“It’s a historic opportunity,” says Matt Mackowiak, an Austin-based political consultant and chair of the Travis County Republican Party. “Conservatives in Texas and across the country are really, really satisfied with the past two Supreme Court nominations the president made and are encouraged and, I think, really hopeful about the next one, as well.”

Anti-abortion groups like Texas Right to Life celebrated Barrett’s announcement, noting that she would replace Ginsburg, who was a consistent vote for abortion rights. Replacing her, they said “could yield new hope for the protection of preborn children”.

Another abortion-related case, challenging a Texas law that bans a common second-term “dilation and extraction” abortion procedure and requires burial or cremation for embryonic or foetal tissue, is currently in being considered by a federal appellate court.

The Right to Life group expressed optimism that Barrett will join Trump’s other appointments, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, in upholding the Texas law and setting the stage for more stringent regulation of abortions in other states. “Texas is a pro-life state, and certainly among conservatives we’d like to see Roe vs Wade overturned,” says Mackowiak. “Of course, that doesn’t make abortion illegal, it makes it a state issue again.”

As much as conservatives in Texas are relishing the ways the Republican leadership in their state can benefit from a rightward move in the Supreme Court’s ideology, those on the left who have fought them in the courts are hunkering down for what they see as long, frustrating and frequently futile battles.

“It’s horribly depressing,” says Susan Hays, an Austin-based lawyer who has spent decades litigating abortion rights cases. “Texas has been the source of a disproportionate number of reproductive rights cases, voting rights case, other sorts of civil rights cases that the Supreme Court has had to decide in order to protect basic human rights in the state.”

The conservative refrain to these kind of complaints is that elections have consequences. Donald Trump won in 2016, and Republicans took control of the US Senate, which confirms judicial nominees, in 2015. Texas itself hasn’t elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994.

There are signs of life for Texas liberals, however. Polls show Joe Biden and Trump in a close fight for the state’s presidential electoral votes. Cornyn is in a closer-than-expected re-election race, and the Democrats may even be the favourites at this point to take back the state legislature, which it last controlled in 2002.

According to law professor Perry, if Texas does go blue, the Democrats could inherit a legal apparatus they can use for their own causes. “Hope may spring eternal that because of the changing demographics and other things, Texas is moving towards purple and there will be a future where the institution that is built for Texas for the conservative point of view may someday become one that is a powerful place for liberals to be,” he says. “I don’t think it’s quite there yet, however.”

The average tenure of a Supreme Court justice is nearly 17 years, according to a February 2017 Pew Research Center analysis of biographical data for 104 former high court justices. (The analysis excluded the members of the court who were serving at the time.) Not surprisingly, younger appointees tend to stay on the court longer. Those who were younger than 45 when they were sworn in served for an average of 21.6 years. That’s about two years longer than those who were ages 45 to 49 when they took the oath of office; three years longer than those who were 50 to 54; seven years longer than those who were 55 to 59; and nearly a decade longer than those who were ages 60 and older. Barrett, Trump’s pending nominee for the high court, is 48. If confirmed, she would be the youngest member of the court.