CONNECTING INDIA WITH ITS DIASPORA

Vol 1

Issue 7

July 2008

P R AVA S I B H A R AT I YA

of GARBAGE
Waste is no mean debri — recycle it and you have life-sustaining value
M I N I S T R Y O F O V E R S E A S I N D I A N A F FA I R S

The POWER

CONNECTING INDIA WITH ITS DIASPORA

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Vol 1 Issue 7 July 2008

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f rom the editor’s desk
aste is no longer waste. Ask Colin Drummond, who recently led a group of British experts to India. He says that his company Viridor Waste makes a profit of £45 million (US$88 million) on a £350 million annual turnover, by managing 87 cubic metres of landfill and generating 75 MW of energy from it besides. “Profit has grown by over 20 percent each year since 2000 and the market value (of the firm) has grown from 200 million pounds to over a billion pounds,” Drummond says. Such is the power of waste. While most would hold their noses at the sight of garbage, Drummond and his colleagues smell money there. What is more, and perhaps more importantly, proper and scientific waste management brings hope of rejuvenation to a world beleaguered by increasing pollution and toxification of land and water resources, the all-imperilling spectre of global warming, and rising sea levels. Britain’s waste management is a revealing example. Once the segregation (plastic from other forms of waste, for example) is carried out, garbage sent to a landfill shrinks considerably. Britain cut it from around 16 million tonnes in 2001 to less than 12 million tonnes in 2007 and has set itself a target of reducing it to five million tonnes by 2020! Other statistics open up astonishing vistas. In Britain again, household recycling and composting rate has grown from 10 percent in 2001 and 26 percent in 2006 and municipal authorities plan to increase it to 50 percent by 2020, Drummond says. Again, segregated wastes generate energy both through conventional methods and by new ones such as pyrolysis and gassification. Drummond says that power generation from landfill gas has increased six-fold in Britain to 4,424 Gigawatt Hours — representing nearly 24 percent of the total UK renewable energy! Besides, there is considerable reduction in methane emissions into the atmosphere. This issue of Pravasi showcases the power of waste. Alongside Drummond’s is a fascinating story of how Singapore has raised an island out of rubbish — rooted in a landfill out in the sea! It is an island where birds nest and people play… Amazingly, there’s no sight or smell at Semakau landfill that was once the last depository of Singapore’s garbage. The place is now a new holiday spot and today, you can navigate the tides and take in the mangrove roots, seagrass, coral reefs, crabs, starfishes, sponges, shrimps and many other forms of life that thrive on the island. Far from home, in distant Haiti, India is one among three countries helping poor communities in a slum on the rim of Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, manage

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Printed and Published by V. K. Bhatia on behalf of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs Akbar Bhavan, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi - 110021 Website: http://moia.gov.in www.overseasindian.in Consulting Editor K.G. Sreenivas Printed at Printech Grafix, F-148 D, GTB Enclave, New Delhi-110093 Pravasi Bharatiya is a monthly publication. The views expressed in this journal are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA). All rights reserved. No part of this journal may be produced, stored, or transmitted in any form or by any means — electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the permission of MOIA. Editorial correspondence and manuscripts can be addressed to pravasi.bharatiya@gmail.com Designed and produced by IANS (www.ians.in) on behalf of the Minstry of Overseas Indian Affairs.

garbage through an innovative community-based waste management project funded by India, Brazil and South Africa along with the United Nations Development Programme. The slum dwellers are converting trash to cash… There is significant relief for overseas Indian workers in the UAE where the government’s Higher Corporation for Specialised Economic Zones plans to build family-styled labour complexes to provide proper residential units for those with limited incomes. About 40 percent of the labour complexes will be allocated for families. Planned housing complexes will go a long way in providing a sense of security and comfort for expatriate Indian workers in the UAE. On the economic front, inflation has been of key concern. As Pravasi goes to press, the Reserve Bank of India plans to hold a crucial meeting to discuss further monetary steps to help rein in inflation. Meanwhile, on July 16, oil prices settled sharply lower for a second straight day — a spectacular drop that left crude more than $10 cheaper in just two days of frenzied trading. Analysts are, however, unsure if the plunge could usher in a long-term shift in sentiment or if it was simply a short-term correction to crude’s bull rally. Nevertheless, it is likely to determine India’s measures to check inflation and prices. Kerala is forging ahead in the IT sector and has scored a first by introducing the Private Public Partnership model in its own Silicon Valley. “Our idea is to develop IT parks in all districts in the state. The two major IT parks, Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram, and Infopark in Kochi, will be the hubs while the proposed district IT parks will be the spokes,” says N. Radhakrishnan Nair, director of Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd and chief executive of Thiruvananthapuram Technopark. Incidentally, Tiruvananthapuram Technopark is rated the best in the country. Kerala with its educational infrastructure and high human development index is sure to attract top talent in its IT domain, challenging traditional rivals Bangalore and Hyderabad. There is fragrant news from the world of diaspora. Apparently, more and more Australians are getting smitten by the Indian rose! Australia’s The Lynch Group is signing an MoU with India’s Tanflora to import freshcut flowers. Come Valentine’s Day, Tanflora plans to export over 10 million roses around the world, including Australia. This issue of Pravasi features Dr. Renu Khator, a woman who has scripted an unusual journey, one from moffusil Kanpur to the hallowed environs of Houston University. Dr. Khator is President and Chancellor of the university and shares with our readers a life most dream of emulating. Happy reading...

c.o.n.t.e.n.t.s

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WHAT RUBBISH... OR IS IT? P 12
Rubbish is not rubbish always. In an energy thirsty world, there is a silver lining in the heaps of garbage piling up on city outskirts. For, garbage is a major source of renewable source of energy and income... British entrepreneur Colin Drummond shows us how.

SHOOTING STAR AIMS HIGHER P 42
Gagan Narang has won a gold for India and set a world record in the air rifle men’s contest held at Hannover in Germany. Narang’s score of 704.3 was 1.2 more than the existing world record of 703.1 set by Austrian shooter Thomas Farnik in the World Cup finals held at Grenada in 2006.

NRI OF THE MONTH
Dr. Renu Khator is one of the first Indian Americans to become a provost at a comprehensive research university in the U.S. She is now the president and chancellor of the University of Houston. Khator has a doctorate in political science from Purdue University and a bachelor’s from Kanpur University, India.

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KERALA BETS ON PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP IN IT P 20
God’s Own Country is flexing its muscles to be a software super power. A tourist hotspot, it has all the potential to emerge as the next best ‘Silicon Valley’ of India. Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi are emerging as major IT hubs of the state while the proposed new district IT parks will be its spokes.

MANDU P 40
Mandu was sheer poetry carved in stone, a monument to life itself... Surrounded by lakes, baobabs and monuments, it is a marvellous throwback to a magnificent past.

HOUSING IN UAE FOR EXPATS . . . . . . . 8 60 BN PETRO COMPLEX IN TN . . . . . 23 SALMAN RUSHDIE KNIGHTED . . . . . . 30 GENTLE NOOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 BOOK REVIEW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46

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ment dealing with Indian nationals abroad. So, we had to carefully choose the right officials to come here — most of them are from the labour departments,” a senior MOIA official said Thursday. An MOIA press release said that a “nodal department or a nodal cell would be constituted by the states to bestow mainstream attention to these issues”. Punjab and Kerala are the exceptions who have already established a separate department for NRI affairs. Besides, the states will also create a database of overseas Indians from their territory. One of the important points of an MoU would be an undertaking from the statss to monitor prosecution of offenders under the Emigration Act. Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said at the meeting, that there had not been a single conviction under the Emigration Act so far, despite the Ministry forwarding its sanction for prosecution to the states. Besides, the states will set up an Overseas Workers Resource Centre and undertake awareness campaigns. It was also decided during the course of the consultations that the Ministry and the state governments would work to develop a platform to help overseas Indians trace their roots. They would also consider the possibility of setting up fast-track courts for speedy disposal of cases of Indian women duped or abandoned by their NRI husbands. —IANS

MOIA calls for MoUs on emigration
he Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) has asked the state governments to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to facilitate legal emigration and take stringent action against unscrupulous recruitment agents. This message was put through at the Ministry’s two-day consultation meeting which was attended by officials from 14 states. According to the Ministry, the Punjab government has already signed the first such MoU with the ministry. One of the most important steps would be to set up a nodal cell in the state capitals to deal with the issues of overseas Indians. “One of the main problems was that the states do not have any dedicated person or depart-

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skills Expatriate Indian population MOIA: Emigrants’ soon upgrade scheme in Bahrain now 290,000 T
offered by the Bahraini government to illegal foreign workers to either regularise their papers or leave the country, 8,000 Indians left the country while 22,000 others regularised their visas, the ambassador said. The amnesty had ended this January 31. With new labour laws having come into effect in Bahrain in July, a total of 52,444 Indians have registered with the country’s Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA). They registered their names in the course of a labour registration festival organised in June by LMRA, which will now be the sole authority on all labour-related issues in Bahrain. “The number of expatriates on our records is nearly 500,000,” reports quoted LMRA chief executive Ali Radhi as saying. “These include about 77,000 housemaids, who have not yet registered.” —IANS

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Indian, UAE police fight human trafficking A
nodal police officer in Kerala has been working in coordination with police in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to check human trafficking and illegal migration. “A nodal police officer appointed by the Indian government and based in Kerala is working in coordination with police in the UAE to check human trafficking and illegal migration,” India’s Consul-General in Dubai Venu Rajamony said at a conference on labour management in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries on June 18. “Through this system, we can ask police in the UAE to conduct raids to bust human trafficking and illegal migration rackets,” he said. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the conference later, Rajamony said the nodal officer in India was appointed around a year ago following a visit of Kerala’s Home Minister to UAE. “We took up the issue from there and the officer was appointed. The reason he has been based in Kerala is because most of the migration from India to the UAE takes place from Kerala.” Asked if similar officers would also be appointed in other major labour exporting states in India, he said: “Not nodal police officers. The Ministry of External Affairs’ representatives in Hyderabad (in Andhra Pradesh) and Chennai (in Tamil Nadu) are working in coordination with the officer in Kerala.” Earlier, during the course of a presentation on ‘India-UAE Labour Relations: Striving for a Partnership and Win-Win Situations’ at the conference, the Consul-General said that India was taking a very pro-active approach to make migration an orderly process. To this end the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) was taking several steps to promote legal migration and prevent illegal migration. “Stringent penalties are imposed on those indulging in human smuggling. In 2007 alone, the licences of six RAs (recruiting agents) were cancelled

and efforts are on to make the RA system professional and acceptable to all stakeholders.” Rajamony said that MOIA had taken several steps to prevent abuse of Indian domestic maids. “The minimum wage of Indian domestic maids in the UAE has been fixed at $300 a month and the minimum age for domestic maids seeking employment abroad has been fixed at 30,” Rajamony said. “Also, employers of such maids here have to make a security deposit of $2,500 and provide a SIM card to the maid. Our missions here run a 24x7 helpline to help domestic maids in distress.” The Indian government had started a compulsory insurance scheme for all workers going abroad, he said. India is also implementing the egovernance process in its migration system and efforts are on to link the databases of India and the UAE, the Consul-General said. — Aroonim Bhuyan/IANS

he number of expatriate Indians working and living in Bahrain has risen to a record 290,000, according to Indian Ambassador Balkrishna Shetty. During the course of an embassy open house for Indian expatriates, Shetty said around 5,000 Indians have been arriving in Bahrain every month. “A few years ago we had around 140,000 people. The increase has been substantial and is a reflection of the faith, capacity and discipline of Indian workers.” During the course of an amnesty

he Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) will launch a skills upgrade programme for potential emigrants. This country-wide scheme would be launched in the construction, engineering, manufacturing, nursing and IT sectors. The scheme is being implemented with help from the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, state governments, industry associations and NGOs. It is part of recent initiatives that include the Overseas Workers Resource Centre (OWRC), with a toll-free helpline to provide information to Indian workers planning to go abroad. The Ministry is establishing the Council for Promotion of Overseas Employment which will serve as a “strategic think-tank”. A welfare fund for emigrants to provide financial support will be established during this financial year.—IANS

NRIs from Kerala to get identity cards

Panel on Malaysian Indians’ welfare

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alaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has formed a new governmental panel to look into the welfare of Indians that would study greater training for youth and micro-credit for ethnic Indians. The cabinet committee is chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak and Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) president S. Samy Vellu. One of the issues before the committee would be to study the fall of Indian equity ownership from 1.5 percent to 1.1 percent, raising the question whether the Indian community has the capacity to absorb more funds. The other issues to be discussed are the standard of living of the ethnic Indian community, estimated at 2.6 million, that is 8 percent of Malaysia’s

28 million, and ways to improve their lifestyles, The Star newspaper said. Badawi said that the formation of the committee was part of the Mid-Term Review (MTR) of the Ninth Malaysia Plan. Denison Jayasooria, a former executive director of MIC’s Social Strategic Foundation, noted that the incidence of poverty had dropped from 5.7 to 3.6 percent nationally. The review has made headway in addressing issues of Indian youth through skills and entrepreneurship training. It also breaks new ground in providing training to over 6,000 youth and a micro-credit of RM3 million ($900,000). Jayasooria, however, noted that the review continued to reaffirm raising the share of Indian equity ownership to 1.5 percent by 2010.

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host of programmes are being worked out for non-resident Indians (NRIs) from Kerala, including a welfare scheme. They would also be issued identity cards, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan has said. These measures would be implemented by Roots Norka, a state-run organisation that looks after the welfare of non-resident Keralites (NRKs). Around two million Malayalis are settled abroad, with close to 90 percent working in the Gulf. Manjalamkulam Ali, a legislator and director of Roots Norka, said that the “card will also act as an insurance card, where in the case of accident or death of an NRK, the beneficiary will get Rs.100,000. This card can also be used as a discount card at select shops in the state.”

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PIO leads breakthrough in AIDS research
So, HIV uses the same constant cellular attachment site to silence B lymphocytes — the antibody producing cells. The result is that the body is fooled into making abundant antibodies to the changeable regions of HIV but not to its cellular attachment site. “Immunologists call such regions super-antigens. HIV’s cleverness is unmatched. No other virus uses this trick to evade the body’s defences,” said Paul, an alumni of New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences. For the same reason, no HIV preventive vaccine that stimulates production of protective antibodies is available. First reported in the early 1980s, HIV has spread across developing countries, infecting some 33 million people by 2007 according to a WHO report. Paul’s group has engineered antibodies with enzymatic activity, also known as abzymes, which can attack the Achilles heel of the virus in a precise way. “The abzymes recognise essentially all of the diverse HIV forms found across the world. This solves the problem of HIV changeability. The next step is to confirm our theory in human clinical trials,” Paul said. A single abzyme molecule deactivates thousands of virus particles, permanently, unlike regular antibodies that act only against a single virus particle, and their anti-viral HIV effect is weaker. “The work of Paul’s group is highly innovative. They have identified antibodies that, instead of passively binding to the target molecule, are able to fragment it and destroy its function,” said Steven J. Norris of the University of Texas Medical School. “Their recent work indicates that naturally occurring catalytic antibodies, particularly those of the IgA subtype, may be useful in the treatment and prevention of HIV infection.” The abzymes are derived from HIV negative people with the autoimmune disease lupus and a small number of HIV positive people who do not require treatment and do not get AIDS. These findings have appeared in the latest issue of the journal Autoimmunity Reviews. —IANS

UAE plans housing for labourers with families

group of University of Texas researchers led by Indian American Sudhir Paul have pinpointed the Achilles heel in the protective mechanism of HIV, the virus that claims millions of lives worldwide when it develops into AIDS. The finding may give hope to millions of HIV positive people. The weak spot is hidden in the HIV envelope protein gp120. This protein is essential for HIV attachment to host cells, which initiate infection and eventually lead to AIDS. The Achilles heel, a tiny stretch of amino acids numbered 421-433 on gp120, is now under study as a target for therapeutic intervention. Paul, who led the research and coauthored the paper said: “Unlike the changeable regions of its envelope, HIV needs at least one region that must remain constant to attach to cells.” If this region changes, HIV cannot infect cells, he said, adding: “Equally important, HIV does not want this constant region to provoke the body’s defence system.”

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n a move that will benefit thousands of expatriate labourers, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is going to build labour accommodation complexes to let workers keep their families too. The Higher Corporation for Specialised Economic Zones (HCSEZ) has announced plans to build family-styled labour complexes to provide proper residential units for those with limited incomes, the staterun Emirates News Agency. The HCSEZ has taken regulatory measures to ensure good environment for residents at the current labour accommodations. The report quoted Khadem

Sawayeh Al Muhairi, executive director for labour services at HCSEZ, as saying that the corporation would construct world-class complexes at competitive prices for the limited income categories. Forty percent of the labour complexes will be allocated for families, he said, indicating that the corporation at this moment is seeking to build such complexes for workers in the industrial sector. Indian workers comprise 42.5 percent of the total labour force in the UAE and 65 percent of them are in the blue-collar category. The expatriate Indian population in this Gulf nation stands at 1.5 million.

New insurance product LIC (International), the global subsidiary of India’s Life Insurance Corporation, has launched a new insurance product targeted at expatriate Indians. Called Fortune Builder, it is a new units-linked insurance plan (ULIP) launched to mark LIC’s 20th year of operations in the Gulf. “The new product will cater to the investment as well as insurance needs of the customers,” said Sudhin Roy Chowdhury, LIC (International)’s CEO. “It also provides an option to take back your money systematically over a period of five years on maturity of the policy. The premium paying terms are also highly flexible.”—IANS

Ravi Seethapathy Receives Shastri Institute’s Honour
r. Gary vanLoon, President of the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute conferred the Institute’s Honour Roll distinction to Mr. Ravi Seethapathy in Ottawa on June 12, 2008. Ravi Seethapathy, an IIT Kharagpur (India) graduate, has been involved in developing educational structure of the country. He is now the Chair of the Institute’s Canadian Advisory Council since 2004. The Shastri Honour Roll distinction is awarded to individuals who have made an important contribution to the advancement of the institute’s goals of building knowledge and understanding between Canada and India through academic partnerships. Since its founding in 1968, the Shastri Institute has awarded this distinction to select individuals renowned for their knowledge, dedication and service.

India to connect with African hospitals, universities

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Hollywood tieups to boost Bollywood: WSJ
film ‘Saawariya’ this year, the biggest joint projects are coming from Indian emerging media powers UTV and the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani (ADA) Group, which aim to become global media giants. Reliance ADA’s deal to invest over $500 million to help build a company with Steven Spielberg would help Adlabs, its main listed media unit, the Journal said. UTV, which is building a media empire encompassing movies, television and the Internet with 32 percent ownership by Walt Disney Co, is already producing films in Hollywood. It coproduced the recent M. Night Shyamalan’s fairly successful horror flick ‘The Happening’.’ These Indian groups stand to profit more than investors in Hollywood because they can use the US connections to make more money in India’s booming media market, WSJ said. With Indian incomes climbing, receipts from the domestic movie industry are rising at 15 percent a year compared with the US, where the growth rate is under 5 percent. The growth inthe Indian market is marshalled by smarter distribution. Bollywood producers use DVDs, cable television, the Internet and even mobile phones to reach moviegoers to generate more money out of each film. India makes 1,000-odd movies a year and earns a revenue of $3 billion while Hollywood makes just 600-odd movies, earning revenue in excess of $80 billion.

isplaying its prowess in the field of information technology, India will be setting up an e-networking infrastructure in 53 African nations to share its expertise in the field of medicine and education. The government of India initiative will connect 12 hospitals in the country with five African hospitals to assist in remote diagnosis and staff training. Seven Indian universities will also be networked with five African universities for providing tele-education as part of a $53 billion project. HCL Infosystems Ltd will be the technical

partner in this project setting up. “There is a huge potential for increasing the pace of development in Africa by usage of IT by institutions of learning,” said Ajai Chowdhry, chairman and chief executive officer of HCL.

Obama thanks South Asians for support

recent string of joint ventures and investments cementing ties between Bollywood and Hollywood might turn Indian entertainment shares of Adlabs Films and UTV Software Communications into blockbusters, the Wall Street Journal has said. Although Viacom has started a joint venture in India to do television and films and Sony Pictures Entertainment released its first Hindi

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emocratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has thanked South Asians for supporting his campaign and stressed that they played a big role in enabling the US to “overcome the politics of division and distraction”. In a letter to South Asians for Obama (SAFO), a voluntary organisation, he wrote: “I truly can’t thank you enough for doing your

part and for helping us get this far.” The organisation is led by national coordinator Hrishi Karthikeyan, Dave Kumar, Anhoni Patel and Nicholas Rathod. “Together, we are sending the message that ordinary people can still do extraordinary things. We are doing something extraordinary, and you are an important part of that,” Obama said.

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What rubbish, it’s money down the drain!
By Joydeep Gupta
ubbish is not rubbish, it’s just money being thrown away, says Colin Drummond, an entrepreneur from Britain who made his millions managing waste and generating electricity out of it. Drummond, who recently led a group of British experts in this field to India, said there that his company Viridor Waste is now making a profit of 45 million pounds ($88 million) on a 350million pound annual turnover, by managing 87 cubic metres of landfill and generating 75 MW of

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The Tama Berin Landfill, England.

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Garbage dump is India’s biggest environmental problem. The edge of every human settlement in India is strewn with solid waste. While others hold their noses, Drummond and his colleagues can smell money there.
gets segregated waste, it can generate energy both by conventional methods and by new ones such as pyrolysis and gassification, he added. Power generation from landfill gas has increased six-fold in Britain to 4,424 Gigawatt Hours, said Drummond. “It represents 24 percent of total UK renewables, with energy from waste combustion a further six percent and anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge another three percent. And there is a corresponding reduction in methane emissions to the atmosphere.” Methane is a greenhouse gas 21 times as potent as carbon dioxide. Methane’s contribution to climate change is still relatively unstudied. Other entrepreneurs in the British delegation were as enthusiastic about business in India as Drummond was. Helen Fairfield would like to reiterate the benefits of compost with a little innovation. The firm she works for has developed a compact composting unit that can handle all the fruit and vegetable waste from Manchester’s wholesale market on the spot, something that would be very handy in the major markets spread around India, she pointed out. Shantanu Banerjee, who works in Britain-based firm Enviros, has designed landfills that can provide energy and clean water in Britain, Hong Kong, Malaysia and South Africa. He would now like to do the same in the land of his birth and says he now knows the special problems of designing landfills in the tropics. “Every sizeable landfill site in the UK generates power. There is no reason why a similar success story cannot happen in India,” Banerjee said.
(Joydeep Gupta can be contacted at joydeep.g@ians.in)

energy from it, among other projects. “Profit has grown by over 20 percent each year since 2000 and the market value (of the firm) has grown from 200 million pounds to over a billion pounds,” Drummond told a group of would-be entrepreneurs from around India. If you ask the average Indian what the country’s biggest environmental problem is, he/she is likely to point to a garbage dump. The edge of every human settlement in India is strewn with solid waste. While others hold their noses, Drummond and his colleagues can smell money there. “Of course there are some pre-requisites,” Drummond told Indo-Asian News Service. “The waste has to be segregated. The landfill has to be lined.” Once the segregation is done, the amount of garbage sent to a landfill decreases automatically. Britain reduced it from around 16 million tonnes in 2001 to less than 12 million tonnes in 2007 and aims to reduce it to five million tonnes by 2020. At the same time, household recycling and composting rate in Britain has grown from 10 percent in 2001 and 26 percent in 2006 and the plan is to increase it to 50 percent by 2020, Drummond said. Once the landfill

Garbage island rises from the sea

An ariel view of the Semakau Landfill, Singapore.

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mage of An Indian Landfill.

nce there was a dirty bit of sea next to the world’s busiest port here. Today it is an island where birds nest and people play, though the entire island is made of rubbish. You wouldn’t know unless you were told. There’s no sight or smell at Semakau landfill to indicate it is the last depository of Singapore’s garbage. The corals and all the animals of the beach have been fooled too — they think it’s a natural island, and they have grown in droves around it. Singapore has been incinerating its waste for decades. A place had to be found to dump the ash that’s left behind. Since the city state has hardly any space left, the planners looked at the sea. They put a seven-kilometre perimeter wall around 350 hectares, divided up the area inside into small portions, and started filling it up with ash in April 1999. Today, four of the portions are full, but the rate at which

the ash is being generated is going down, much to delight of the municipal authorities. Singaporeans are getting more aware of the need to recycle what they used to throw away earlier. At the current rate, the landfill will be operational till 2045, the planners estimate. The place is so clean it has turned into a new holiday spot. School and college students come in droves for intertidal walks where they gawk at mangrove roots, seagrass, coral reefs, crabs, starfishes, sponges, shrimps and many other forms of life that thrive in the belt between high and low tide marks. Birdwatchers come to glimpse at some of the 66 species recorded at Semakau, sport-fishermen love its artificial lagoon and even amateur astronomers prefer it because they can get away from the glare of the city lights. The last thing on their minds is that they are standing on an island made of rubbish... —IANS

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Gislene La Salle (foreground) and others working at the waste management plant in the Carrefour-Feuilles district of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photo by Patralekha Chatterjee

India helps Haiti slum dwellers turn trash to cash
by Patralekha Chatterjee

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aiti hits the headlines with its coups, rebellions, crushing poverty and food riots. But now there’s a ray of hope in one of the toughest slums of its capital here thanks to a tricountry initiative that includes India. Nowhere is gnawing hunger, the daily struggle through power cuts, street violence and constant political upheavals more apparent than in

the shanties of this fragile Caribbean island state of almost nine million people. However, there are stirrings of change. India is one among three countries helping poor communities in a sprawling slum on the edge of Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, break through the cycle of poverty, violence and despair. “I know we have a bad image. But

the violence is going down in my neighbourhood,” said Gislène La Salle, a widow and a mother of six from Carrefour-Feuilles, the site of an innovative community-based waste management project funded by India, Brazil and South Africa (the IBSA alliance) along with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). IBSA has already committed

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provide more possibilities to people so that they can buy something to eat. That is why the local population is so happy with the project. It is not easy to choose who to hire in a place where so many are desperately in need of work. “Many people beg us for work but we don’t have vacancies at the moment. If we can hire even 100 more persons, it would solve a lot of problems,” Massenat said. But three years and a UN award down the line, there are concerns about the continuation of the project. The first phase is over. “We are waiting for the results of a feasibility study before taking a final decision on the second phase,” Malay Mishra, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi, told Indo-Asian News Service. The results of the feasibility study are expected in July. The second phase focuses on marketing the recycled products. Paper waste is already being recycled into fuel briquettes to be sold in local markets. Money from the sale of these briquettes will be reinvested into the project. “IBSA is committed to the construction of a composting centre, for which it has already allocated resources. The procurement process is under way and completion of work is now planned for the end of the year,” said Francisco Simplicio from UNDP’s Special Unit for SouthSouth Cooperation. Workers at the site hope donors will continue to support the project that has changed the face of the Carrefour-Feuilles slum. Can employment to 385 people really end vziolence in one of the most notorious slum areas of Portau- Prince? “Most people in this area never knew real work. Now, they have experienced it. They also have families. The area is cleaner; the women who lost their husbands in gang wars and police firing are happier. It’s a beginning,” said Massenat. —IANS

$1.17 million to the project. “India’s objectives in promoting South-South cooperation is one of the key factors behind the project, currently implemented in partnership with UNDP,” India’s honorary consul in Haiti Eddy Handal told a visiting Indo-Asian News Service correspondent. When the project began in 2005, Carrefour-Feuilles was synonymous with guns and gangsters. Today, residents like Gislène who have found work in the recycling project exude a hope rare in the impoverished nation. Gislène was one among the tens of thousands of street vendors who make up the informal economy in the western hemisphere’s poorest country. “But when the security situation deteriorated sharply, I could not work in the streets. Luckily, six months ago, I found work in this project. Now, life is more stable. I have a regular income,” she said. “The money I earn allows me to feed my family better and send three of my six children to school,” Gislène told Indo-Asian News Service in a mixture of Creole and French. Georginette is also a widow. Like Gislène, this mother of seven is thrilled to find a regular job. “Earlier, only three of my seven children went to school. Many children from the neighbourhood roamed the streets. But since November 2007 when I began working here, I can afford to send five...” Proud in their cobalt blue uniform, the two are among the 385 men and women currently working for the IBSA-funded waste management plant. “Twenty-five persons who work at the ‘triage centre’ sorting out the garbage so that it can be recycled or composted receive $6 per day for an eight-hour shift,” said Eliana Nicolini, the UNDP project coordinator. “The 360 others who work four hours every day, collecting trash from the streets, get half that amount. Half of the workers are women in a neighbourhood where most households are headed by a single parent. Impressed

Everest turning into world’s highest cesspool
Expedition introduces bio-degradable toilets on Mount Everest
deadly peril lurks on Mount Everest, the highest summit in the world, which is far more dangerous than the freezing cold, gale winds and recently posted security forces who are empowered to shoot at the sight of political activities. The new hazard comes from human waste scattered along the mountain slopes, which could run into hundreds of tonnes. “Toilet paper and human excreta litter the Everest base camp (at an altitude of 6,400 metres), the slopes, and even the summit (8,848 metres) itself,” says Ang Tshering Sherpa, chief of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, which is entrusted with promoting mountaineering in this country. “In summer, when the snow melts, the frozen human waste comes into sight and starts raising a stink. The grave health and environmental hazard the untreated excreta pose is a matter of great concern,” Sherpa added. While conscious mountaineers have been trying to clear the garbage left on the mountains, nothing has been done so far to treat the human waste lying there. In the past, expeditions have collected used oxygen cans, tents, food tins and other litter and brought much of it down but the human waste remains. “As it remains frozen during the expeditions, it is very difficult to remove it and bring it down,” Sherpa told Indo-Asian News Service. In a bid to prevent the world’s tallest mountain from turning into the highest cesspool, an expedition is now introducing, for the first time in the history of the Everest, bio-degradable toilets. Sherpa’s son Dawa Steven Sherpa recently led a 24-member Eco Everest 2008 expedition to the summit in memory of the peak’s greatest benefactor, Edmund Hillary, to try and clean the garbage. The team carried three “Clean

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by the positive results so far, the Haitian government would like to replicate this model in other regions of the country,” Nicolini added. The idea of turning trash into cash came from watching garbage pile up along Haiti’s ill-maintained roads. The waste not only clogged the capital’s drainage system and canals, it also posed a security hazard as armed gangs used the mounds of trash as barricades, local media reports suggest. It was against this backdrop that the IBSA/UNDP project was conceptualised in 2005. “Every morning, a group of workers go out and collect waste from house to house,” said Patrick Massenat, a local youth heading a committee created to implement activities contributing to waste management and to ensure effective involvement of governmental institutions. “The trash is brougzzzztic, metals and all that. Then, part of the waste is made into fuel briquettes. The project aims to reduce violence in the community, clean up the area and to

Mountain Cans” with them, a portable toilet manufactured by an American company. The bins were lined with bio-degradable bags that decompose the human waste deposited in them. The expedition was armed with 200 such bags. The attempt was to remove the frozen waste on the summit, put it in the bags and bring it down to the base camp. The cans, which can be bought for $75 a piece in the US, cost a thumping $150 when brought to Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world. “The cans were gifted by the American Alpine Club, while some of the bags were donated by the factories

that made them,” Sherpa said. Sherpa, who runs Asian Trekking, one of the leading trekking agencies in Nepal, said his company would henceforth use the cans and urge other agencies to employ them too. The expedition that also highlighted the dangers of climate change in the Himalayan slopes, is tying to put into action a banner in Kathmandu that urges citizens to use garbage wisely and turn it into money. It is offering each climber who brings down human or other waste down from the peak to the base camp $1 for each kg of junk. —IANS

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conomy

Kerala bets on public-private partnership in IT
India’s IT sector has set new global benchmarks. And Kerala adds another feather in its cap by introducing the Private Public Partnership model in its own Silicon Valley. Venkatachari Jagannathan looks at the emerging IT boom in Kerala.

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erala would rather emulate Tamil Nadu than Karnataka — considered the cradle of India’s information technology (IT) industry with its own Silicon Valley in Bangalore — to attract IT infrastructure investments. “We do not want to repeat Karnataka’s mistake of promoting just one city, Bangalore, as the destination for IT investments. We would rather follow Tamil Nadu’s model,” N. Radhakrishnan Nair, director of Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd (KSITIL), told Indo-Asian News Service. Tamil Nadu, leveraging the spread of industrialisation across the state, is promoting Tier-II cities like Coimbatore, Madurai and Tiruchirapalli as IT park and special economic zone(SEZ) destinations. It is this recipe that Kerala has decided to follow, said Nair, who is also chief executive of Technopark, the IT hub in Thiruvananthapuram.

“Our idea is to develop IT parks in all districts in the state. The two major IT parks, Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram, and Infopark in Kochi, will be the hubs while the proposed district IT parks will be the spokes,” Nair said. The Kerala government has acquired land in Kozhikode for a proposed 75-acre IT park, called Cyberpark. Land is also being acquired in other districts for setting IT parks and SEZs. Similarly, Nair said 100 acres of land has been acquired for the proposed 500-acre integrated IT township project, Technocity, on the Thiruvananthapuram-Kochi highway. Another 200 acres would be acquired by the month-end and the entire land acquisition is expected to be completed by the year-end, he said. Unlike Tamil Nadu where several private promoters have built IT parks, Kerala’s focus is on public-private

partnerships with KSITIL as the primary vehicle. KSITIL is a proposed joint venture with the Kerala government holding a 51 percent share and the balance to be held by private equity investors and non-resident Indians. Nair said the process to select a consultant to advice on attracting private investors is on. “Once the partner and funds are in place, separate special purpose vehicles (SPV) will be formed for each project, in which KSITIL will hold 26 percent and private promoters the balance.” This will be done to help develop the ambitious Technocity project as well. According to plans, the project land will be parcelled into six lots and allotted to different private developers. An SPV will be formed with each developer, with KSITIL holding 26 percent share and the developer owning 74 percent. “We have got 10 Requests for

Qualification (RFQ) proposals from real estate developers, which will now be scrutinised,” said Nair. While that is for the future, Technopark, the single largest IT park in the country spread out on 260 acres and generating an annual revenue of about Rs.400 million ($9.25 million), will also be expanded. “In the first phase, we developed Technopark and rented out the premises. In the second phase, land was allotted to companies such as Infosys Technologies and TCS which in turn built the infrastructure. Now, in the third phase, we will acquire land and develop the infrastructure jointly with private players,” Nair said. The third phase of expansion will be on 100 acres, and land acquisition is about to be completed. According to Nair, the state has targeted creating 200,000 jobs in IT by 2012, compared to the 40,000 currently. —IANS

An aeriel view of

Technopark
Thiruvananthapuram

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Medium and long-term plans to increase agricultural production while moderating the prices of steel and cement are also required to curb inflation

More monetary steps likely as inflation climbs

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ndia’s annual rate of inflation for the week-ended June 21 maintained an upward trend, rising to 11.63 percent compared to 11.42 percent for the week before. The wholesale price index (WPI) for all commodities released on July 4 by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry showed an increase in the prices of tea, fruits, vegetables, unrefined oil, tanning materials, texturised yarn, tyre cord, steel and chemicals. More monetary measures to rein in inflation may be likely. “The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will think of monetary steps to contain inflationary trends,” a senior official said. The Reserve Bank, India’s apex bank, on June 24 hiked repo rate or lending rate by 50 basis points to 8.5 percent and the cash reserve ratio or the minimum balance a bank is required to maintain to 8.75 percent from 8.25 percent. The RBI is likely to hold a meeting on July 29, where the issue of fresh fiscal measures could be discussed. “The government needs to evolve medium and long term plans for agricultural production increase, moderating the prices of steel and cement,” said Anjan Roy, economic adviser at the Federation of Indian Chambers

of Commerce and Industry, an industry lobby. “An increase of 0.21 percent in inflation is not alarming, but calls for measures to bring inflation down to 10 percent first and finally to the tolerable level of 5 percent. The supply side needs to be strengthened,” Roy told Indo-Asian News Service. Sajjan Jindal, vice-chairman and managing director JSW Steel, and president of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham), also agrees: “Costlier

prices of edible oil, food products, fruit and vegetables and even iron and steel fuelled the inflation to 11.63 percent and if their supplies are not maintained, inflation will exceed even 12 percent.” “Rising crude oil prices and higher food prices internationally will also further escalate inflation as these are not showing reversal trends,” Jindal said, adding that fiscal steps from the government to contain inflation may bear fruit in the coming weeks. The index for primary food articles comprising tea, fruits and vegetables rose 0.6 percent while that of nonfood articles like raw cotton rose 0.4 percent in the week under review. Some of the items registering high price rise for the week-ending June 21 were unrefined oil (8 percent), texturised yarn (9 percent), basic and foundry pig iron (8 percent), steel sheets, plates and strips (6 percent) and components and accessories of switch gears (10 percent). G. Srivatsava, director, economic policy, Confederation of Indian Industry, said: “High prices of oil and commodities are driving up inflation.” The WPI of fuel, power, light and lubricants declined 0.1 percent, while the index for manufactured products like oilcakes rose 0.5 percent. The data showed an increase of 4 percent in the price of tea while that of fruits and vegetables, maize, bajra and fish marine went up 2 percent each. The final wholesale price for all commodities stood at 229.1 points for the week-ended on April 26 and the annual rate of inflation based on final index calculated on point to point basis stood at 8.27 percent. —IANS

Tamil Nadu to build Rs.60 billion petrochemical mega-complex

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amil Nadu Industrial Development Corp Ltd (Tidco) is planning to develop the Cuddalore-Nagapattinam belt as a petroleum, chemical and petrochemical investment region at an investment of Rs.60 billion ($1.4 billion), said a top official. Talking to reporters after signing a gas cooperation agreement with Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) there on June 6, Tidco chairman and managing director S. Ramasundaram said that the state and central governments would develop the infrastructure while the prospective investors would have to source the required land for the facto-

ry. “The infrastructure development in the region is estimated to require an investment of Rs.60 billion ($1.38 billion),” he added. However, the project needs to be cleared by the central government. The first meeting with the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas was held on June 11. Ramasundaram added that Tidco wants to develop a petrochemical plant at Nagapattinam. Chennai Petroleum Corp Ltd (CPCL) has been requested to consider Nagapattinam as an alternative location instead of Ennore to build its greenfield refinery and petrochemical complex, he said. About the gas cooperation agree-

ment, he said that GAIL would conduct preliminary techno economic feasibility study for gas demand potential in industrial, commercial, transport, residential sectors and evaluate the medium and long-term gas demand potential of the state. GAIL will also assess pipeline infrastructure and associated facilities required for supply of natural gas including optical fibre network. “The agreement between GAIL and Tidco would help in preparation of the future roadmap for realising the natural gas potential in Tamil Nadu,” said GAIL chairman and managing director U.D. Choubey. —IANS

Moser Baer to invest Rs. 20 bn in Tamil Nadu

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ptical storage device major Moser Baer India Ltd on June 9 signed a memorandum of understanding with the Tamil Nadu government to set up a photo voltaic and nano technology plant at Oragadum, near Chennai. The plant, to be set up at an estimated investment of Rs. 20 billion ($476 million), will come up in the Small Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu (Sipcot) industrial estate there, said a government release. The deal was signed by Industries

Department Secretary M.F. Farooqui and Moser Baer chairman and managing director Deepak Puri in the presence of Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and Minister for Communications and Information Technology A. Raja. The Moser Baer deal comes after Signet Solar Inc announced its plans to set up a photo voltaic product plant at Sriperumbudur special economic zone (SEZ) near Chennai at an outlay of Rs. 20 billion ($463 million). —IANS

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Urban Indian tourists opting for special interest relaxed holidays

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uxury tourism is redefining itself in urban India with special interest holiday packages to meet the mature market needs in which customers look for “deeper satisfaction” rather than the usual gamut of vacation activities. Such holidays also provide greater freedom to explore destinations at one’s own pace and time. As the high-end leisure segments of outbound Indian travellers — those holidaying abroad — curtail their holiday durations because of increased work pressure, entrepreneurs and travel firms are going out of their way to come up with emotionally satisfying “short-haul” packages to give customers the best and the most innovative tours that money can buy. The cornerstones of the new holiday packages on the shelves are “freedom, flexibility, relaxation and space”, unlike holidays of the past when outbound tourists packed in the maximum activities and destinations in their itineraries to make most of the money spent. “These specialised and short-haul holidays will drive the Indian tourism industry in the future,” P. Srinivas, senior vice-president of SOTC’s Special Interest Tours, told Indo-Asian News

Service from Mumbai. To cater to the growing tribe of special interest tourists, comprising mostly stressed corporate executives, double-income working couples taking a break from work and affluent baby boomers who have travelled early in life but now want to relax with their children, Six Senses Resorts and Spas, a leading wellness holiday chain, has unveiled a new package called “Destination Spas”. The first destination wellness resort, a place devoted exclusively to wellness tourism away from the bustle of daily life and cut off from the mainland, is Naka Yai, an island off Phuket. “It is different from other spas. This wellness centre is a destination in itself where tourists can avail of complete therapies of the mind and the body without interruption throughout their holidays without having to indulge in the usual holiday chores like shopping, sight-seeing, eating out and having to rub shoulders with the local lot,” says Vasudha Sondhi, managing director of Outbound Marketing Private Limited, which represents the Thailand-based Six Senses in India. “It is another world where we do not allow tourists to smoke on the island except on designated zones, do not

admit children below 16, do not serve meat and egg and discourage mobile phones and contact with the world outside,” Sondhi adds. The pace of life is slow, relaxed and “disciplined”. The target audience this year, according to Sondhi, is the “moneyed” segment from Tier-II and III cities across India. “We have a fixed clientele in Bollywood and in the metros, but we are getting maximum business from places like Lucknow, Kanpur and cities in Punjab where travellers are becoming more discerning, hip and informed,” Sondhi says. They are the ones who are looking for more spaced-out holidays at the moment. “As most of them go on foreign holidays at least two to three times a year now instead of the once-in-a-year trip till a couple of years ago, there is no rush to cram holiday schedules with every major attractions and activity on the way,” she says. Her travel firm, which fetched only five percent of its business from the second and third rung towns till 2003, now generates nearly 35 percent business from the smaller cities. “Small-town tourists are opting for

destinations that are isolated and prefer packages with a lot of space and variation,” Sondhi says. Seema Kundra, the chief executive officer of a public relations firm in the capital, who is just back from Bali, agrees. “I just chilled out in my resort. I did not venture out except for my meals and to explore the beaches,” says the genial corporate honcho. Most vacationers feel that packing a schedule with too many stops is tiring. “The traveller returns exhausted. It requires another holiday to overcome the fatigue,” Kundra says. Industry watchers feel that one of the reasons why special interest holidays is becoming popular in India is the growing need to spend quality time with the family and loved ones, and indulge in favourite pastimes which are not possible in the western lifestyle models that most Indian metros have embraced to adapt to the new globalised economy. Mumbai-based SOTC for instance is cashing in on the Indian passion for sport. It has launched the country’s firstever Formula One sports holiday package jointly with the Singapore Tourism Board. Called the SOTC Sport Abroad, the holiday schedules will coincide with Singapore Grand Prix to held September 20 to October 5. It will feature various Formula One themed entertainment and lifestyle activities allowing Formula buffs the freedom to enjoy the races as part of the holiday packages. Formula One Singapore Grand Prix is the world’s very first night-race on the Formula One calendar. “More and more Indians are travelling abroad to play or watch sporting events. Cricket and football are no longer the main draws and neither is corporate travel, nor incentives for dealers and employees driving the growth in sports tourism. “Instead, groups of friends and families travelling abroad to catch a sporting event form the majority of our sports tourists,” says Srinivas. According to him, the SOTC Sport Abroad packages are not only restricted to watching the race on the tracks “but go much beyond this”. —IANS

Kazakhstan wants a Palace on Wheels along Silk Route

purred by the success of the Palace on Wheels and other luxury train services in India, Kazakhstan has sought help from India’s tourism ministry for similar packages along the famous Silk Route that dates back over two millennia. “We would like to have a luxury train along the Silk Route, which is similar to India’s luxury trains, including the Palace on Wheels,” Kazakh Vice-Minister for Tourism and Sports Kairbek Uskenbayev said. “We could even consider joint partnerships to improve the quality of our product,” Uskenbayev told Indo -Asian News Service after attending a presentation organised there by the Indian Tourism Ministry. The presentation, at the invitation of the Kazakh government, was to address tour operators, hoteliers, investors and officials on brand and logo development for the hospitality industry and share their expertise in luxury trains. Officials said a train service on the Silk Route via Kazakhstan runs through Central Asia covering Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, but the tracks needed to be standardised to broad gauge and wagons upgraded. The new luxury train will be a part of five tourism projects on Kazakhstan’s list of priorities for which it has a budget exceeding $30 billion, explained the Kazakh tourism and

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sports minister. The Silk Route, which dates back to around 110 BC, stretched from China and the Indian subcontinent to Central Asia and Europe. It was used not only by the traders to transport their merchandise but also by monks, pilgrims and soldiers. Kazakhstan’s economy is expanding as fast as India’s and China’s with a growth of 10 percent expected this year, due mainly to its huge hydrocarbon reserves and mineral resources. M.N Javed, Deputy Director with India’s Ministry of Tourism, said as part of the growing bilateral ties, a two-day road show will be held in Almaty this September to push the relationship further, especially in the hospitality sector. The event will coincide with a meeting of mayors from cities falling on the Silk Route train service to discuss common visas to present the region as a single tourist destination. “We would like to learn from India’s experience in brand building to build our own brand,” said Uskenbayev, referring to the Incredible India campaign of the Indian tourism ministry that has secured worldwide acclaim. At present Kazakhstan receives around six million visitors a year with a target to grow to 10 million by upgrading its infrastructure over the next four years. —IANS 2008

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India third most attractive market for apparel retailers
ndia has emerged the third most attractive market destination for apparel retailers, according to a new study by global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney. India comes after Brazil and China in the A.T. Kearney Retail Apparel Index, which looks at ten drivers, including apparel consumption and clothing imports/exports, to rank the top 30 emerging markets for retail apparel investments. “In India, apparel is the second largest retail category, representing 10 percent of the $37 billion retail market. It is expected to grow 12-15 percent per year,” said Hemant Kalbag, principal, Consumer Industries & Retail Practice, A.T. Kearney. “The top seven apparel companies account for less than 10 percent of the total apparel retail market in India and

Jaguar, Land Rover acting CEO to head new Tata-JLR

Corporate Snippets
India’s direct tax collections up 38%
n spite of a slowdown in the growth of both industrial production and merchandise exports, India’s direct tax collections rose by as much as 38.61 percent in the first quarter of the current fiscal, the finance ministry said on July 4. The direct tax collections, according to an official statement, rose to Rs. 573.73 billion ($13.27 bn) during the period against Rs. 413.91 billion ($9.5 bn)in the like quarter of the previous fiscal.

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Indian consumers tend to be more loyal to a specific retailer than to an apparel brand. The result is a thriving private label apparel market,” the study said. “Like many developed countries, apparel retail in India is driven by sales promotion,” it added. “The Retail Apparel Index was published for the first time this year as a companion to A.T. Kearney’s Global Retail Development Index (GRDI), a study of retail investment attractiveness among 30 emerging markets conducted annually since 2001,” said Saurine M. Doshi, a partner of A.T. Kearney India. “The analysis evaluates more than 20 apparel markets to identify the top 10 countries in terms of market size, growth prospects and consumer affluence,” Doshi added. Turkey, Chile, Romania, Argentina, Thailand, Russia and the United Arab Emirates are the other countries in the top-10 list. —IANS

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Motorola backs Wimax over 3G as India’s next broadband technology

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elecommunications giant Motorola Inc., a Fortune 100 company, says that the newer Wimax technology scores over 3G in data transmission capabilities and that it’s the broadband route India needed to take. Wimax or Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access is a non-cellular telecommunications technology, which like 3G has the capability to transfer data wirelessly over long distances. But while 3G offers speeds in the range of 5.8-14.4 mega bits a second, Wimax has the potential to “deliver 70 mega bits over the same spectrum”, a senior Motorola executive says. “This technology enables better speeds than the standard 3G and even traditional broadband connections,” Tarvinder Singh, Motorola India’s head of marketing and product management, told Indo-Asian News Service. Incidentally, the Department of Telecom will auction the 2.1 GHz and higher spectrum band — which will support both the technologies — some time this month. And Singh says service providers winning the bids ought to opt

for Wimax. His assertion comes on the heels of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) inducting the Wimax technology as part of its 3G standard, the first non-cellular telecommunication technology to get ITU approval. Researchers at Nokia-Siemens Networks and Heinrich Hertz Institute have showcased a futuristic 3G technology, the Long Term Evolution or LTE, which has a transfer speed of 100 mega bits per second. But Singh is unimpressed. “Those who swear allegiance to 3G bank upon its development into LTE, which is still in its development stage and cannot be introduced before 2011 commercially,” he added. Singh said India could not wait till 2011 to provide Internet access and modern technology to its towns and villages. “We are already lagging behind other nations. Wireless broadband in the form of Wimax can solve the problem of building infrastructure for wired Internet access.” —IANS

he Tata group, India’s largest business conglomerate, on June 2 said that they had formally acquired British marquees Jaguar and Land Rover (JLR) from Ford Motor Company. The business was acquired at a function in Gaydon, Britain. JLR’s acting chief executive officer (CEO) David Smith, who has had 25 years experience with JLR and Ford, will be the new CEO of the business, Tata Motors announced. The business has been acquired for $2.3 billion on March 26 in an all-cash transaction. Ford has contributed around $600 million in the JLR pension plans, the announcement said. Ford Motor Company’s executive vice-president and chief financial officer Lewis Booth, who looks after the company’s responsibilities for Europe, Volvo and JLR, was present at the June 2 ceremony at JLR headquarters. Describing it as a “momentous time” for Tata Motors, Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata said that Jaguar and Land Rover are two iconic British brands with worldwide growth prospects. Tata Motors would extend full support to the JLR team to realise their competitive potential and help retain their distinctive identities and continue to pursue their respective business plans as before, Tata said. JLR has been acquired at a cost of

$2.3 billion on a cash-free, debt-free basis. The purchase consideration includes the ownership by JLR or perpetual royalty-free licences of all necessary intellectual property rights, manufacturing plants, two advanced design centres in Britain and a worldwide network of national sales companies. Tata Motors has also entered into long-term agreements for supply of engines, stampings and other JLR components, plus transition support from Ford, including IT, accounting and access to test facilities. The two companies will continue their cooperation in areas such as design and development through sharing of platforms and joint development of hybrid technologies and powertrain engineering. The Ford Motor Credit Company will also continue to provide financing for JLR dealers and customers for a transition period. Tata Motors is negotiating with leading auto finance providers to support the JLR business in Europe and the US and is likely to select financial services partners soon. The JLR deal catapulted Tata Motors, India’s largest automobile company with revenues of $8.8 billion in 2007, to international headlines when it announced the Ford deal in March-end 2008. —IANS

Daimler Hero to roll out vehicles in Tamil Nadu
aimler Hero Motor Corp, a JV floated by German auto major Daimler AG and Indian twowheeler giant Hero group, on July 7 signed an agreement with the Tamil Nadu government to manufacture commercial vehicles there. The JV will set up the manufacturing facility at the Sipcot industrial estate near Chennai to roll out 70,000 light, medium and heavy vehicles annually. Daimler holds 60 percent in the new company, with the Hero group holding the rest.

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Tata Motors launches fuel efficient buses
ata Motors, the world’s second-largest bus and fourthlargest truck manufacturer, is introducing a new range of fuel-efficient Super Milo buses with a starting price of Rs. 8,50,000 ($19,795). Available in two variants, City and Highway, the buses will have customised parameters, fuel efficient and eco-friendly engines which will result in better pickup and mileage, the company’s executive director for commercial vehicles business unit P.M. Telang said on July 8. —IANS 2008

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The Hanuman factor in Indian support to Barack Obama!
! WASHINGTON ndian Americans are switching their loyalties from the Clintons to the likely Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, thanks to Hanuman, so suggests a columnist in the Washington Post. When it comes to American politicians, former U.S. President “Bill Clinton has been the darling of India”, wrote Matthew Mosk in his column titled “Indian Americans Take Note of Obama, Thanks to Hanuman” — with a picture of the Hindu monkey god. “That love extended to Hillary

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Clinton during the Democratic primaries — especially so with respect to fundraising among Indian Americans, who grew to become a significant base of support for her White House bid.” “But now a surprise revelation during an off-the-cuff exchange in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has turned Barack Obama into the talk of the Indian news media,” he said referring to the brouhaha in India over one of the lucky charms that the Democratic nominee reportedly carries. “One of the trinkets, it turns out, was a tiny figurine of Hanuman — the Hindu monkey god,” said

Mosk definitively though the first media reports described it only as what looks like a “tiny monkey god”. Neither Obama nor his campaign has acknowledged if the figurine was indeed that of Hanuman. More likely it was just a trinket given by one of his supporters. As the columnist recalled it was at a town hall meeting a woman asked Obama what kept him grounded, and in response he emptied his pockets. “People are so generous to me, investing their hopes in me,” he said, holding up a cupped hand full of trinkets. “This I usually don’t show in these town hall meetings. I have all these things that people give me — all these different little good luck charms.” But for the Indians “It’s a big deal,” said the Post citing Bhavna Pandit, 28, a political fundraising consultant based in Washington “who thinks the revelations will lead to new interest in Obama among Indian American donors”. The daily quoted Pandit as saying “news of the Obama trinket has swept across Indian American living rooms and through Indian newspapers and TV networks. She said the people she knows as “aunties and uncles” — women and men from her parents’ generation — are suddenly taking note of Obama in a way they had not done before. “They think it’s kind of neat. They rarely see our religion played out in the mainstream media in America.” And, she said according to the post, “In India, they’re like, ‘Wow! The person who can be the president has a connection to us that’s very personal. Commenting on the column, a reader ‘Chaya’ reminded Pandit that ‘Obama was given these trinkets and I wouldn’t be surprised if he did not know who Hanuman is’.” “Let us not be too dumb to think this somehow connects Hindus to the senator,” said a blogger. “His policies and his abilities to bring change should bring Indians closer to the president, not a trinket. That’s where Clintons proved themselves and are loved by Indians.”

Sunita Williams receives Padma Bhushan
! WASHINGTON ndian-American astronaut Sunita Williams has received India’s third highest civilian award, the Padma Bhushan, for her feat of completing the longest space flight for a woman. “It is a great honour. I am elated,” said Williams as she received her award from Indian Consul-General S.M. Gavai at a function in Houston on July 4. Among this year’s Republic Day honourees, she could not receive the award in person from Indian President Pratibha Devisingh Patil in New Delhi. Recounting her 195 days stay in space, she said: “The Earth looks beautiful from space as there are no borders on the planet. Sometimes we think we have borders because we are male, female, of different religions or have differently coloured skin. Well,

US organisation honours Sikhs
he US-based Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE) held a function in Chandigarh on July 6 to honour prominent Sikh personalities and organisations for excellence in their fields and humanitarian service. “In America we have been working for the past five years to bring Sikhs in the mainstream of the society,” Rajwant Singh, chairman of Washington-based SCORE said. “American Sikhs have done wonders in the fields of Information Technology, electronics, agriculture and education so we are just trying to underline their contributions among the political leaders of America,” he said. “Our endeavour is to honour those people who have created a positive image of the Sikh community and those who have been doing pioneering work in different areas,” he added. Sikhs were honoured at the ‘Excellence among Sikhs’ programme. Many Indians residing in countries like Canada, the US and Britain, attended the event.

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you don’t, they are just in your mind and they are not real. I could see this borderless world only after I went to space, but there are people like Mahatma Gandhi, who could visualise all this even without going to space. Gandhiji’s vision of keeping people at peace together is really a cornerstone of humanity,” Williams added. Launched to the International Space Station on space shuttle Discovery on December 9, 2006, she returned to Earth on June 22, 2007, after 195 days in space. She also set a world record for women with four spacewalks totalling 29 hours and 17 minutes. Astronaut Peggy Whitson subsequently broke the record in 2008 with five spacewalks. Among the personal items Williams took with her on the flight were a copy of the Bhagwad Gita, a small figurine of Ganesha and samosas.

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Ravi Shankar honoured in US
! NEW YORK ndian spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been honoured by the New Jersey general assembly and by the city of Edison for his organisation’s initiatives in the U.S. and its service to the world at large. The state assembly passed a resolution acknowledging that the guru, in the US recently, has been “furthering the best of human instincts, traits and characteristics, and promoting sustainable growth in poor rural communities”. It also praised his Art of Living Foundation, “which assists at-risk youth in turning away from gang violence, drugs and alcohol towards a life of greater generosity and service”.

Indian student in US television show

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The Foundation’s projects in the US include inner city youth leadership programmes, free trauma relief for survivors of tragedies such as Hurricane Katrina and the Virginia Tech shootings, special programmes for returning war veterans, prisoner reform, stress-elimination programmes for corporations and working adults, and human-values based programmes for children and youth.

elhi-bred Kunal Nayyar went to the US to study marketing, but as luck would have it he became an actor and now features in the popular American TV show “The Big Bang Theory” as Rajesh Koothrappali. “It is quite crazy and weird. I went there as a student and became an actor,” said Kunal. “It is interesting to play Rajesh as I see him not as a character but as a person trying to fit in America,” Kunal said. He says that there are lots of similarities between him and his character. “I also have a lot of nerdy elements in me and at the same time I act as a geek like him. I love playing video games and just like him I also like a lot of epic stuff.”

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Mittals now eye country hotels in UK

Mittal buys third house on London Billionaire’s Row
Gardens that he bought for £57 million in 2004. The paper quoted a spokesman for a topend estate agent in London as saying that Mittal had already raised the value of his main property. “The Mittals have carried out substantial improvements to their main home, which is probably the largest private house in Central London after the Buckingham Palace,” said Noel de Keyzer, a director at Savills. “I would put its current value at close to £250 million.” The paper said the £70 million price tag for Mittal’s latest property was all the more remarkable since the former Philippines embassy was in need of modernisation. “The 16,250 square feet home is also not the largest on the road but it looks on to Kensington Palace.”

! LONDON ust a month after buying Britain’s most expensive home, India-born billionaire Lakshmi Niwas Mittal has reportedly acquired a third house on London’s costliest street for £70 million. The house in Kensington Palace Gardens is the former Philippine embassy and looks on to Kensington Palace, home of the late Princess Diana, the Evening Standard reported. It is the third acquisition on the street for Mittal, chairman of steel giant ArcelorMittal, with a fortune of £27 billion. He paid £117 million a month ago for a home for his son Aditya in Palace Green, an extension of Kensington Palace Gardens. The industrialist himself lives in a large house in Kensington Palace

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fter stately homes, the Mittals are now eyeing heritage hotels of Britain. One of the world’s richest families, they are considering investing in the company behind upmarket country hotels including Cliveden, near Heathrow, and The Royal Crescent in Bath. An agency representing Mittals is said to be in talks with Von Essen Hotels, one of Britain’s largest privately-owned collections of luxury hotels. The hotels are seeped in British history. Cliveden House, set amid 376 acres of formal gardens, has a past going back 300 years. Several prominent persons have called it their home over the years, the most famous being Nancy Astor, the first woman MP of Britain. Queen Victoria, a confidante of the original owner, the Duchess of Sutherland, used to drop in for a cup of tea. Guests have included every British monarch since George I as well as Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill, Harold Macmillan, Roosevelt, George Bernard Shaw, to name a few.

Mallya to make diet whisky and vodka, has US patent
! LONDON he United Breweries Group of India has been granted a US patent for manufacturing diet whisky and vodka, chairman Vijay Mallya said in what he described as an example of “thinking out of the bottle”. The flamboyant Indian entrepreneur told students at the London Business School that his Vittal Mallya Scientific Research Foundation (VMSRF) in Bangalore had developed the technology to convert the active ingredient of an Indian fruit that helps fight obesity into a safe liquid version. The plant called Garcenia contains some natural substances that works on your digestive system and actually breaks down your sugar cells and fat cells,” Mallya said. “It has been used in the United States health food industry for decades. But making this Garcinia soluble in liquid is a technology that we have developed and patented in the US,” he added. “So we now have a legitimate diet whisky and a legitimate diet vodka which had been successfully tested for calories. We sent it to a lab to check the calorific value and we proved it,” Mallya said. Mallya said manufacturing and marketing was delayed “because of the fighting with the European Union over classification”. “All of this was developed by us in India. We do think out of the box — no, make that out of the bottle,” he said during a lecture and interaction session with LBS students — an event organised by the UK India Business Council and the business school’s India Business Forum. Research by VMSRF has centred around a fruit from the Garcinia family, the Malabar Tamarind (biological name, Garcinia Cambogia), whose primary acid, hydroxycitric acid (HCA), can help bring about weight loss. Garcinia fruits have been used as a common natural food flavouring agent on the Malabar coast “for ages”, VMSRF says on its website. The research says it has developed a unique soluble salt after extracting HCA acid from the Malabar tamarind, which not only lowers appetite but also helps control cholesterol.

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Indian poet felicitated by Romanian Writers Union
! BUCHAREST

Kumar Sanu brings Toronto show alive
! TORONTO

Salman Rushdie is finally knighted
ndian-origin author Salman Rushdie received a knighthood for services to literature from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II on June 25, saying he was proud of the honour and had “no regrets” over the controversy sparked by his work. Sir Salman, as the Anglo-Indian writer will now be known, said the knighthood was in recognition “not for any specific book but for a very long career in writing and I’m happy to see it recognised”. Speaking after the ceremony, and displaying his knighthood medal, he said: “I’m very proud, very happy.”

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“It’s been a long time — my first novel was published 33 years ago but I think the thing you hope to do as a writer is leave behind a shelf of interesting books and it’s great just to have that work recognised.” Asked about the recent controversy surrounding his knighthood, he said: “At this stage, you know, it’s certainly not a day to talk about controversy, it’s a day for myself and my family to celebrate this.” Asked if, with hindsight, he had any doubts about writing the controversial Satanic Verses, Rushdie said: “I really have no regrets about any of my work. If you’re lucky enough to have one book that gets into people’s consciousness in that way then it’s fortunate,” said Rushdie.

Indian doctor turns film star in Britain

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octor by profession, actor by accident. An Indian-born British radiologist became the cynosure of all eyes as his debut film, ‘Accident’, premiered in London on July 4. Mahesh Kumar Neelala Anand from Oldham, near Manchester, plays the role of a singing, dancing, murdering gangster in the Kannada film, said to be a success in India. Anand is the head of radiology at Pennine Acute Trust, which runs hospitals in Oldham, Rochdale, Bury and north Manchester. He temporarily traded in the radiology rooms to travel to Bangalore last October when his friend Ramesh Aravind, a successful Indian film director, offered him the role out of the blue.

ndian poet, writer and journalist Surender Bhutani was felicitated by the Romanian Writers Union on July 5 when a collection of his poems was released in Romanian language. George Anca, an Indologist, has translated Bhutani’s poems from English and Urdu into Romanian. Bhutani’ s earlier works have been translated into Polish. A known Urdu poet, Bhutani has written six volumes in the language and has now started writing in English also. “It was a sheer delight for me to translate his amazing poetry into Romanian. I felt privileged when I started receiving his poems and immediately I started working on his poetry. The universal appeal of his poetry warms the heart of every poetry lover whatever may be his language,” said Anca during the book release ceremony.

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ollywood singer Kumar Sanu brought the 23rd annual North American Bengal Conference (NABC) alive in Toronto with his high-voltage performance. By belting out his hit Bengali and Hindi numbers, the playback singer on July 6 night provided a befitting finale to the North American Bengali mega-show which came to town after 10 years. Singing to a packed house at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the Bengali heartthrob had the audience shouting for encore as he regaled them with Bollywood hits — ‘Ek Sanam Chahiye’, from the 1990 musical hit ‘Aashqui’, and ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha’, from ‘1942: A Love Story’ — and Bengali versions of Kishore Kumar’s hit songs. Before him, Arnab Chakrabarty had the audience spell-bound with his renderings of some of Rabindranath Tagore’s musical compositions.

The famous Calcutta Choir performed the closing ceremony by creating a riveting display of colour, dance and puja, making Bengali expatriates nostalgic about life back home in its all aspects. Conceptualised by Calcutta Choir, the show by Toronto dancers sent the 6,000-strong gathering away with sweet memories of “Bangala Sammelan”. The highlight of the last day of the three-day conference was NextGen events. Under the event called Ice Breaker, second-generation Bengali youth met with one another to network. Under Speed Dating, they were encouraged to know the opposite sex to find — if possible — their perfect match. 2008

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iaspora Minimum wage fixed for Indian domestic workers in Oman
during 2007 it registered 7,797 labour contracts of household workers from India and helped in repatriating home 65 household workers who were facing problems. According to Wadhwa, the Embassy was also taking several steps for the welfare of Indian household workers in that Gulf nation. These include making prior attestation of labour agreements by the Embassy mandatory to allow household workers to leave India. An orientation programme for household workers prior to their leaving India and a contract signed by the sponsor agreeing to provide a pre-paid mobile phone to the household worker on arrival have also become mandatory. The sponsor must also allow the household worker to report to the Embassy within four weeks of his/her arrival in Oman. They will also be provided free legal and other assistance should they be ill-treated while the Embassy will pay for medical treatment and airfare in

Australians want Indian roses
! SYDNEY

! DUBAI ndia has fixed the minimum wage for Indian domestic workers in Oman at 75 Omani riyals ($195) per month, effective from June 1. “The Embassy of India in Muscat, Oman, has, under the instructions of the Government of India, decided to raise the wages of Indian house maids coming to the Sultanate from the existing RO50 ($130) per month to RO75 per month with effect from June 1, 2008,” the Indian Embassy said. India’s Ambassador to Oman, Anil Wadhwa, said in the statement that this was necessitated by inflation and rising cost of living worldwide, particularly in Oman, as the wages of Indian household workers have remained static for over 15 years. Other countries supplying household workers in Oman are the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Indonesia, Tanzania and Bangladesh. The Embassy also stated that

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deserving cases. The Embassy, in collaboration with Oman’s Ministry of Manpower, has also prepared flyers in six languages, including four Indian regional languages, containing ‘dos and don’ts’ for Indian household workers in Oman. These have been placed at all immigration counters and in commercial aircraft, which are normally used by Indian household workers coming to Oman.

ore and more Australians may soon be expressing their enduring love with roses from India as a delegation heads to Bangalore to facilitate a joint venture between India’s largest producer of fresh cut roses, Tanflora, and Australia’s largest provider of floral bouquets, The Lynch Group. “The aim is to increase the market shares of Indian roses in Australia and make them more affordable and accessible,” director of Sydney-based Roses Galore, M.A. Khan, who first introduced Indian flowers to Australia in 1996 and is helping to facilitate the joint venture, said. Tanflora is preparing to export 10 million roses all over the world, including Australia, come Valentine’s Day 2009. In recent years, there has been a growing demand for Indian producers to meet the Australian flower industry requirements. Every day, roses, gerberas, lilies, carnations and other fresh flowers from India are sold at Australia’s largest trading market for fresh flowers, the Flemington markets in Sydney. The Moorebank-based Lynch Group, the dominant suppliers of fresh flowers to the Australian wholesale market, recently launched Tanflora’s new premier red rose variety named ‘Tajmahal, Symbol of Love’, in Sydney.

“The Taj Mahal variety will be available in the retail market later this month,” informs Khan, who migrated to Australia in 1986 from Hyderabad and is one of the largest importers of fresh flowers from India. “This exclusive rose variety, with its unique colour, shape, vase life, stem length and overall vigour, for which Tanflora holds world rights, has been received with great enthusiasm by local buyers,” said Khan, who is also one of the 25 growers at Tanflora’s 50 hectare facility and has been closely linked with the formation of the company. A joint venture between the Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation Ltd. (TIDCO) and the Agricultural & Processed Food Products Development Authority (APEDA), Tanflora floriculture facility is based in Hosur (Tamil Nadu) with an annual production capacity of 70 million roses. In May, a memorandum of understanding was signed between TIDCO, Tanflora and the Lynch Group on strengthening ties and introduction of value added products in the rapidly growing Indian and Australian markets. Tanflora, which is among the top five rose growers of the world, is hoping to reach the top spot with a proposed expansion of an additional 300 hectares in the next five years and boosting production to a million stems per month.

Texas man fulfilling ex-Assam militant’s dream
! NEW DELHI

Musician magician unravels superstitions
! KOZHIKODE mmer Bhai teaches music at a school in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). But back home in Kerala he dons the robe of a magician to tell children the truth behind superstitions and black magic. Ummer, who is based in the Umm al-Quwain emirate, has taken four months’ leave to spend time in his native state, but he has no time to sit at home as he prepares to stage magic shows in the schools of Malappuram and Kozhikode in northern Kerala. “Sometimes tricksters tell a person that his neighbour has tried to poison him through black magic and even pretend to draw out the poison. But I show children how such a trick is per-

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formed,” Ummer said. Ummer, who teaches the harmonium, keyboards and even vocals at a school in Umm al-Quwain, takes his role as a magician seriously and does not even take remuneration for his performances except the transport cost to the venue. One magic show costs around Rs. 1,500 to Rs. 3,000, which he spends from his own pocket. “This year I will be here for four months. I have plans to conduct 100 shows. This will cost more than Rs. 150,000,” he says. In the last nine years, he says, he has spent around Rs. 1 million performing such shows. “I have already covered 50 percent of the schools in Malappuram district. This year I am planning to concentrate on schools in Kozhikode district.”

Ummer, who is in his 40s, says schools are free to raise funds through his shows. “I do not take any money for the shows. If any amount is collected, it is given back to the school authorities to buy books for the school library or to help poor students. “If a show is organised to mobilise funds, children’s parents are also encouraged to attend,” Ummer says. He said the maximum he has raised from a show so far is Rs. 35,000. School officials where his programme is staged vouch that his programme is good even if it did not raise much funds. “His programme was good. He did not take any money,” said a school principal in Malappuram district.

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task left unfinished by a militant-turned-good Samaritan in the little village of Saraipani in Assam has now become the “mission” of a Texas-based IT professional of Indian origin. After the untimely death of surrendered United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) militant Jugal Bhuyan in March last year, Ankur Bora, a native of Assam, has now pitched in to help Prajnalaya, a home for destitute children that was set up in 2002. The orphanage, now home to 115 children, was built by Bhuyan on the banks of the Saraipani river in Jorhat district. The death of Bhuyan — he died of a massive heart attack — left the orphanage without a mentor. To make things worse, a high intensity storm almost razed the children’s

home to the ground early this year. But a ray of hope has appeared for Prajnalaya after Bora stepped in to provide solace to the children. Bora recently donated a sum of $5,000 to rebuild the damaged structure of Prajnalaya. The 41-year-old IT professional participated in the AT&T Austin Marathon race in February to raise money. Asha Austin, a US-based NGO, supported Bora’s run. “It was during my visit to Assam to participate in Bhogali Bihu festivities in January this year that I came to know about the plight of Prajnalaya. Almost instantaneously I decided to do something to help the children,” Bora said. “Now I am also trying to motivate the entire Assamese community based in the US to generously donate money to help rebuild the orphanage,” he added.

Bora’s effort has not gone unnoticed. The Association for India’s Development (AID), a US-based organisation, has also vouched to help rebuild the children’s home. “We are thankful that several USbased organisations have come forward to help us. After Jugal’s death the home was facing several crises and the financial part hurt us all,” said Maina, Bhuyan’s widow. Like many idealistic college-goers, Bhuyan wanted to work for an egalitarian society. He joined the rebel group in 1989 with the aim of changing society. But after roughing it out in the jungles for two years, he became disillusioned and subsequently surrendered. Initially Jugal built a bamboo hut for the children in his own ancestral land and he refused money from any government or private body. 2008

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amous Pravasi

Gentle NooR
A person of high integrity, former President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Noor Hassanali, made history by having been appointed to the nation’s highest office by two different ruling political parties for two consecutive terms...
Crown Counsel in Attorney-General’s Chambers. In 1965, he was appointed Assistant Solicitor-General and the following year he was appointed Judge of the High Court. In 1978 he was appointed to the Court of Appeal, after which he retired on April 14, 1985. He was elected President in 1987 following elections which brought the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) to government. Although the office of President was largely ceremonial (similar to that of Governor General before the country became a republic), he was such a popular national figure and he was re-elected in 1992 by the People’s National Movement (PNM) administration. Hassanali was described as “one of the most neutral, reserved, and dignified figures in the history of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago politics”. When he was inaugurated as President in 1987 he was described as “a person of impeccable credentials who has a reputation for honesty and humility of the highest order”. As a Muslim, Hassanali chose not to serve alcoholic beverages at President’s House. Despite reservations on the part of then-Prime Minister A.N.R. Robinson, the decision was never seen as controversial by the public. He was married to Zalayhar Mohammed and had two children, Khalid and Amena Hassanali-Sutton. Together with his brothers, Noor Hassanali was an avid and skilful footballer, playing both for Naparima College and for his club Spitfire. Hassanali got double first class colours for football and cricket at Naparima College, and was also a member of the Southern Amateur Football Association Team. He also played in national inter-league competition. In 2003 he published a book of his speeches entitled Teaching Words in conjunction with the Naps Charitable Foundation. His brother, Fyzul Hassanali has written two books on cricket. His cousins include Manny Ramjohn

Former First Lady Zalayhar at the funeral of her husband, former President Noor Hassanali.

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President Noor Hassanali and First Lady Zalayhar Hassanali at President House in 1996.

oor Mohammed Hassanali was the second President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (1987 to 1997). A retired High Court judge, President Hassanali was the first Indo-Trinidadian to hold the office of the President and was the first Muslim head of state in the Americas. The sixth of seven children, Hassanali, descended from Indian forbears, was born in San Fernando and was educated at Canaan and Corinth Canadian Mission (now Presbyterian) Primary Schools and Naparima College. After graduating he taught at Naparima from 1938 to 1943. In 1943 he travelled to Canada, where he read law at the University of Toronto. While in Canada he served as a member of the Canadian Officers Training Corps from 1943 until the end of the war in 1945. He was called to the bar at Gray’s Inn in London in 1948. Hassanali worked as a lawyer in private practice from 1948 to 1953, when he was appointed as a magistrate. In 1960, he was appointed senior magistrate and later that year was appointed Senior

As a Muslim, Hassanali chose not to serve alcoholic beverages at President’s House. Despite reservations on the part of thenPrime Minister A.N.R. Robinson, the decision was never seen as controversial by Trinidadians.

Sir George with Noor Hassanali

who was an Olympic long-distance runner, and Dr. Jean Ramjohn-Richards, First Lady of Trinidad and Tobago and wife of its fourth President, Professor George Maxwell Richards. Hassanali succeeded acting president Michael Williams and was himself succeeded by Arthur N.R. Robinson (President 1997-2003). Hassanali died on August 25, 2006, aged 88.

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RI of the Month

A journey from

Kanpur to Houston
Her credo: When life gives you lemons and everyone else is busy making lemonade, think about making margaritas.
he was just 18 years when she left India as a young bride and is today among America’s premier university administrators. Dr. Renu Khator is one of the first Indian Americans to become a provost at a comprehensive research university in the United States. She is now the President and Chancellor of the University of Houston. Khator has a doctorate in political science from Purdue University and earned her bachelor’s degree from Kanpur University in India. She has served as Provost at South Florida since 2003, and was Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for three years before that. Author or editor of five scholarly books and numerous articles concerning global public administration, environmental policy and South Asian politics, Khator came to the US in 1974 after her marriage to Suresh Khator. Both pursued graduate degrees at Purdue University and later accepted teaching positions at the University of South Florida.

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She enjoys writing poetry and short stories, several of which have been published. In addition to her duties as provost, she has been teaching a course in Hindi at the University of South Florida this year. The Khators were honoured by India in 2007, receiving the ‘Jewel of India’, a special award recognising non-resident Indians for making outstanding contributions in their field. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services included Renu Khator among its 2006 Outstanding American by Choice awardees. The award recognises outstanding achievements of naturalised US citizens. Also in 2006, Khator received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Purdue University’s College of Liberal Arts and the Outstanding Educator Award from the American Foundation for Greek Language and Culture for enhancing Hellenic studies. Khator and Suresh have two daughters, both of whom are ophthalmologists. Her life philosophy, she says, is simple: “When life gives you lemons and everyone else is busy making lemonade, think about making margaritas.”

‘Indians are known for their intelligence’
It is the “fire in Indian students’ belly” that defines their character and pushes them towards greater heights. It is not just their dream but of their families’, said Dr Renu Khator keeping Indian value high in an e-mail interview with Indo-Asian News Service.

Q What were your thoughts when you as the first Indian were
named the president of the Houston University System? What was the sense of it all? Did you ever imagine that you would one day come to occupy such a significant position in the American educational system? I felt honoured, humbled, and elated all at the same time. Having grown up in a small town in India and having come from the “Marwari” clan where I had few role models if any, it was impossible for me to have dreams that expanded to becoming Chancellor/President of such a reput-

ed and large university system. This milestone has been possible only because I did not take this journey alone. Many people — my parents, siblings, husband, daughters, teachers, mentors, friends, and family — all have been part of this exciting and unbelievable journey. Dr. Khator, travelling back in time, how did you manage the transition from India to the US — that is, how did you successfully strike roots in an alien society and culture? What were the ‘unlearnings’ and learnings?

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A I cameI to thefascinated by newa United States as teenager. was

things, new approaches and new ideas that America had to offer. But since I brought a strong sense of culture and values from India, I was able contextualise everything within this learned framework. Looking back, I feel that I was able to get the best of both of the worlds. I quickly learned the American way of connecting with people — at tailgate parties with casual conversations and by respecting others’private space. Among the things that I had to unlearn were showing affection through food, and giving unsolicited advice. The most important thing for me was to observe, learn, and respect American ways without being judgmental. Today, I am equally comfortable at a football game and at a havan. 2008

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Q Indian students are among the best in US universities. What
work ethic or ethos drive such excellence? Indian students who come to the United States are crème of the crème. They are intelligent, hardworking, tenacious, and focused. Most are willing to sacrifice common pleasures, considered to be necessities in America (Friday night clubs or Saturday night football games), in order to accomplish their goals. They are not easily distracted because they are looking to fulfill not just their dream but that of their families’. It is the “fire in their belly” that defines their character and pushes them toward greater heights.

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ence and engineering fields as governors, newscasters, directors, artists, painters and poets. I think they are being noticed and it will help change the stereotypes. India stands on the cusp of significant transformation — in terms of its economic and political clout. Have you ever felt you could perhaps participate in some manner in the story that India represents today?

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Q How would you describe the differences in the education sysA The two systems have their own strengths. The most striking differences relate to (i) curriculum; (ii) governance; and (iii) partnerships. In terms of curriculum, I find the Indian education system to be theorybased, while the American education system to be translational. College education is approached in a structured and specialized way in India while the approach in America is more comprehensive and unstructured. For example, an aspiring scientist and engineer in India selects his/her path in the 9th grade, while an American student does not have to make such a decision until after completing two years of college tems of India and the US?

education. All college students, irrespective of their intended degree, must complete two years of common coursework which includes liberal arts, humanities, and sciences. Furthermore, the American system allows a person to enter college at any age and change his or her mind during the course of the degree. I have seen grandmothers and granddaughters receiving degrees at the same commencement and I have seen people completing their Ph.D well into their 70s. In terms of governance, the American system seems to enjoy more autonomy and flexibility than its Indian counterpart. Academic decisions are controlled by the faculty with as little intrusion from political and social influences as possible. In terms of partnerships, the American system relies heavily on the

private sector to build its resource base. The top public universities today are receiving only 10-15 percent of their budgets directly from the government. Private philanthropy supports educational mission as does the contributions from the alumni who take pride in building their alma matter. Industry also plays a significant role in defining educational needs and then supporting the quality of the outcome. Would you at some point of time collaborate with Indian institutions?

States to meet their educational needs. There are several complications, including accreditation and tuition, which need to be worked out, but I am convinced that we will be able to accomplish the goal in the very near future. What aspects of the Indian education system you think could perhaps in some substantive way contribute to the American system of education?

A afar. I thatproudparticipate transI feel I do albeit from am to see the
formation and do not fail to avail any opportunity to educate people about it in any part of the world.

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Q Your of Indian origin in the Q Itbelong tothat the century as a personmost defining moment is said would India and China. United States of America. What are the perspectives that mould contemporary perceptions A From the visibility point of view, about India in the West, particu- I must say that the appointment as
larly America? known for their intelligence, work ethics, and loyalty. Indians face stereotypes as well, the strongest one being that all Indians are math wizards. Sometimes, it prevents children of Indian immigrants from finding their true potential in non-math fields. Lately, I see Indians shining in non sciChancellor/President of the University of Houston topped everything. The story was covered in over 165 newspapers, radios and television stations in many parts of the world and was hailed as the “American Dream”. However, at a personal level, I would say that the most defining moment was when I heard American students, who did not know how to say “Namaste”, carry on a 10-sentence conversation in Hindi at the end of my Hindi 101 class. 2008

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A Theconversationofwith more is cur-a University Houston rently in than
dozen universities in India. We are exploring joint degree programmes as well as seamless pathways for students to travel between India and the United

A Indians are colleagues. They are A of offer to the world. system has by their Americanheld in the high regard The Indian education a lot The Indian
Institutes of Technologies and the Indian Institutes of Management are among the world’s best institutions. I personally found that my theoretical background, which I acquired in India, was extremely strong and helped me grasp the practical components better.

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Tomb of Hoshang Shah

ravel

MANDU: Hidden & Forgotten
Mandu is a celebration in stone, of life and joy, of the love of the poet-King Baz Bahadur for his beautiful consort, Rani Roopmati...

andu, known as ‘the city of joy’, is situated in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Its origins are uncertain. However, available literary and archaeological references date it to the end of the first millennium, when the Palmara rulers in the Malwa region took advantage of its natural defences and built a fortified place under the name of Mandovgarh, the capital of some of their short-lived kingdoms. At the end of the 14th century, the city fell to Dilawar Khan Ghori, the governor of Malwa, who was at the service of the Sultanate of Delhi. He took advantage of the circumstances of the siege of Delhi by the Mughal troops of the fearsome Tamerlain, to become independent, nominating himself as the first Sultan of Malwa, and establishing his capital in Mandu. The city was then renamed Shadiabad or the ‘City of Joy’. Today, a traveller can see even in the middle of nowhere curious baobabs beside the walls and domes of any of the countless cenotaphs, graves, huge stepwells or small mosques, sometimes almost overrun by weeds. It is almost baobab country... A walk through the different monumental areas from the north on the road to Indore through one of the strong gates (Alangir or Bangui) takes one to the ‘Royal Enclave’ where lie some of the most impressive palaces of Mandu. The Jahaz Mahal or the ‘Ship Palace’, long as a ship and situated in the middle of two artificial lakes, welcomes the beholder, and in the full-moon night and romances him with the oriental flavours of the tales of the thousand and one nights. The fourth Mughal emperor, Jahangir, a great admirer of the site, was reported to have often talked about its beauty. Nur Jahan, the most famous of his wives, also admired the beauty of the place. Not far from there, is the Hindola Mahal, a palace with a strange architectural attraction, built in an odd style that from the outside reminds one of a ptolomeic temple, with successive archs looking like small viaducts in the interior. It was here that the king gave an audience to his subjects. A few metres further, the Nilakanta temple melds with a curious fountain designed like a snake. Not far from there are two big baolis or step-wells, Ujala Baoli and Champa Baoli. These huge step-wells with several rooms and halls were used by the royalty to rest in the hot days of summer. From there can be seen the remains of old palaces like Gada Shah Shop and the Royal Palace next to the northern lake. The mosque of Dilawar Khan is another monument whose ruins are scattered in the area. In the middle of the village stands out the huge Jama Masjid, inspired by the great mosque of Damascus. The Masjid is regarded as the finest example of Afghan art in India. Its considerable size together with the austere elegance of its interiors holds out an aweseome architectural effect. Inside are 17 polychrome mihrabs, the biggest of them in the middle preceded by a graceful pulpit with dec-

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The Tomb of Hoshang Shah is made of white marble and was one of the sources of inspirations for the famous Taj Mahal of Agra. It is said that Shah Jahan sent four of his architects to Mandu to study the architecture of the mausoleum.
orated steps. In front of the façade is the tomb of Mahmood Shah Khilji and the Palace of the Golden Coins or Ashrafi Mahal, originally an important madrassa. Today, only one of the eight towers remains of the celebrated Victory Tower, commemorating Khilji’s famous victory against the king of Mewar. The tower, still bearing polychrome marble etchings, was perhaps the most important monument in Mandu. Behind the Jama Masjid is another jewel of Mandu — the Tomb of Hoshang Shah. This mausoleum is located in the middle of a big courtyard with four towers in the corners of a cloister with arcaded galleries. The ‘tunnel vision’ effect created by row after row of carved columns seeking to converge on an infinite point is reminiscent of the Great Mosque of Cordoba. The main building houses the tomb of Hoshang Shah as well as five other smaller graves of his family. The building is made of white marble and was one of the sources of inspirations for the Taj Mahal. It is said that Shah Jahan sent four of his architects to Mandu to study the mausoleum’s architecture. Another beautiful monument is the Roopmati Pavilion. People in Mandu say that they still hear the echoes of songs about the love of Roopmati and poet-king Baz Bahadur! Roopmati’s Pavilion was built over an old fort. From there she looked north at the palace of her beloved king and from the other side longingly gazed at her birth place — the valley of River Narmada. Today, Mandu is located in an evergreen plateau in the middle of lush vegetation. Surrounded by lakes, exotic baobabs and splendorous monuments, it is an astonishing throwback to a magnificent past.

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IPL likely to be the part of ICC calendar

In Brief
India wins four gold at Asian Youth Judo Champ

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Gagan sets world record at Olympic test
ndian shooter Gagan Narang won the gold and surpassed the air rifle men’s world record at an Olympic test event held at Hannover in Germany. Narang’s score of 704.3 was 1.2 more than the existing world record of 703.1 set by Austrian shooter Thomas Farnik in the World Cup finals held at Grenada in 2006. Gagan shot a score of 599 in the range and I feel it might take a lot of time before anyone can break this record,” said national coach Sunny Thomas. “I am happy he is training and shaping very well for Beijing Olympics. There is a lot of difference between shooting a high score in a training session than that from shooting it in a competition. But I am very sure that this will boost Gagan’s confidence and inspire him to shoot a great score in the Olympics,” he added. —IANS

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qualifications and then followed it up with an excellent score of 105.3 in the final round on July 2. In the sixth qualification series he shot 9.9 which prevented him from obtaining a perfect score of 600/600. “By any standard this is a wonderful performance and it is above the world record score. The range authorities were naturally happy with this highest ever score made by anyone in their

he International Cricket Council (ICC) is likely to include Indian Premier League (IPL) in its calendar. The multi-million dollar Twenty20 tournament has been included in the final draft of a radical proposal to revamp ICC’s international programming. The suggested schedule includes IPL and will be presented to the ICC’s executive board, reports The Australian. Leading players and player associations have demanded a space for the IPL for fear that emerging crick-

India to host Commonwealth Basketball Championship

eters will abandon playing for their country and instead take the big money on offer in the IPL. A recent survey by the Federation of International Players Associations (FICA) showed that more than half of the 64 players polled from seven of the nine active Test countries, including Australia, were willing to sacrifice the end of their international career for IPL money. The new proposal has each of the nine active Test nations playing each other over a two-year period in threeTest series. The top four nations would then play semi-finals and a final in the third year, while the fourth year of the cycle would be kept free for “icon” series such as the Ashes. The current future-tours program, which runs on a sixyear cycle, does not end until 2012 but the ICC has already begun discussing what will replace it. —IANS

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ndian judokas won eight medals, including four gold, at the Asian Youth Judo Championships in Sana’a, Yemen. Balinder (boys, 42kg), Amit Kumar (boys, 50kg), Sandhya Devi (girls, 48kg) and Pooja Dhanda (girls, 57kg) won the gold medals for India on July 3. Ichal Devi (girls, 63kg) won the silver while Neha Thakur (girls, 40kg), Sushila Devi (girls, 44kg) and Romen Singh (boys, 60kg) won the bronze medal. The 12-member Indian team were second in both the boys and girls sections.

Tendulkar named best Asian batsman

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Indian woman runs in Olympic torch relay in China

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n a major boost to basketball in the country , the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) declared that India will host the first Commonwealth Basketball Championship in July 2010. FIBA President Bob Elphinston hoped that the tournament will popularise the sport in India and help it close the gap with other Asian giants like China. “We thought the best way to popularise the sport in India is to hold big tournaments and so

we decided to have the first Commonwealth Championship here in India. The youth here will know that basketball is a prominent sport across the world. And hosting it before the Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Delhi is the best way to go about it.” “Basketball is not included in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010. But the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has told us that it will extend all possible support for basketball,” Elphinston saidduring his three day visit to India. Eight teams will feature in the tournament, including Canada, New Zealand, Nigeria, England, South Africa and hosts India. BFI secretarygeneral Harish Sharma said the tournament will help the sport grow in the country. —IANS

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usiness executive Meena Barot on July 7 created history by becoming the only Indian to take part in the Olympic torch relay in China, a moment she called the “most beautiful” in her life. Cheered and clapped by thousands of Chinese and a handful of expatriates, Barot, 36, who lives in China, ran with the Olympic torch for around 50-60 metres in Lanzhou city in Gansu province around 8.30 a.m. (6 a.m. IST). “It was like a celebration. I have never seen anything like this in my life,” an excited Barot said after her run that lasted just a minute but is sure to remain etched in her memory all her life. Barot, who moved to China in March 2005 and speaks Mandarin fluently, was ecstatic that she got to keep the torch. —IANS

Podium for Karun in GP2 Feature race

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ndia’s Karun Chandhok has struck a purple patch at Silverstone, U.K with a stunning drive that saw him starting 10th on the grid and finishing third in the GP2 Feature race. The 24year-old from Chennai, who is backed by Red Bull, Punj Lloyd, JK Tyre, Amaron, ICSA Logistics and Sidvin, added to his previous podium finish

t a glittering ceremony held at the majestic 19th century Mohatta Palace on July 6 night, the Indian players cheered as Sachin Tendulkar’s name was announced by Rameez Raja as the continent’s best one-day batsman at the inaugural Asian Cricket Council (ACC) awards ceremony. Former India and Pakistan captains Sunil Gavaskar and Imran Khan were also honoured with special awards titled “legendary cricketers” of the neighbouring countries.

this year (at another classic track in Monaco) with a stunning performance on July 6 that included a vast array of passing manoeuvres. “That has to be my best race ever in GP2,” said Karun, the iSport International driver who is already a winner in Formula 1’s feeder formula after his victory at SpaFrancorchamps last year. “I was quicker than Lucas di Grassi, who finished second, but I just did not have the time to catch him. But to finish third from 10th on the grid after passing a lot of guys feels awesome,” he added. —IANS

Professional basketball league soon in India

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fter football, now the professional basketball league in the country. The Basketball Federation (BFI) is ready with the blueprint for a pro league and is in the process of tying up sponsorship deal. FIBA president Bob Elphinston told reporters in New Delhi on July 4 the world body will do everything it can to raise the standard of the game in the country. The BFI is ready with a six-team league and it is in the process of finalising a sponsor. —IANS 2008

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ollywood

‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’ shines at National Film Awards
Marathi film ‘Shevri’. The film’s producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra and director Raj Kumar Hirani will get a Swarna Kamal and a cash award of Rs. 200,000 each. Malayalam film ‘Pulijanmam’, directed by Priyanandanan, bagged the best feature film award. The film, based on the eponymous play by N. Prabhakaran, portrays the relentless struggle between oppressors and those who have the courage to resist them. Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee won the best actor award for his role in debutant director Suman Ghosh’s ‘Podokkhep’. Tamil actress Priyamani claimed the best actress award for her acclaimed performance in Ameer Sulthan’s ‘Paruthiveeran’. The three-member jury for the awards comprises Buddhadeb Dasgupta, K. Bikram Singh and Madhu Jain. The awards were announced on June 10 are for films made in 2006.

Star Buzz
South Indian composers create music for Oympics

Bangkok Indians go ga-ga over Bollywood idols

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cores of fans, mostly young, gathered outside the Dusit Thani Hotel, one of the oldest five-star hotels in Bangkok, to catch a glimpse of the stars during the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards, the June 6-8 extravaganza that drew the cream of Bollywood led by the Bachchan clan. From Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek, Aishwarya Rai, Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor to Fardeen Khan, Akshay Kumar, Govinda, Zayed Khan, Katrina Kaif and Vivek Oberoi — people went gaga over the superstars as well as budding actors. But the Bachchan family was the most popular of them all. Fans turned out in huge numbers to see the Bollywood’s most sought after couple Aishwarya and Abhishek — they had the longest line of autograph seekers. “IIFA means a lot for us Indians living here. It is a perfect showcasing of India in terms of our stars and glamour,” said Ravi Mathur, who works as general manager in a company in Bangkok. Thailand has a nearly 85,000-strong Indian diaspora, with families of many having settled in the country threefour generations ago. Ashima, a young woman, was over

the moon as her autograph book was full. She said: “It is like a dream come true for us. We usually see them (stars) in films and admire them. But the experience of meeting them in person is ecstatic. I can’t explain in words how I am feeling right now. And Bollywood stars were at their best behaviour and went all out to please their NRI fans, who came in droves and stood outside the main IIFA venue for hours to see them.” The IIFA, which has Amitabh as its brand ambassador, has till date been held in nine different locations across the world, including Dubai, Sun City and Singapore. “I am so happy that IIFA happened here this year. When I watched the award function in London, I never thought it will come here this time. Finally, it happened here. I am so delighted,” said Richa Sachdev, who runs a provision shop in Bangkok. The grand IIFA awards ceremony was held at Siam Niramik on the evening of June 8, complete with glitzy performances and Boman Irani and Riteish Deshmukh as hosts had the crowd in splits with their easy repartee.The 2,000-capacity hall was full, with a majority of the audience comprising the Indian community.

ollywood blockbuster ‘Lage Raho Munna Bhai’, based on Mahatma Gandhi’s ideology, hit the jackpot by winning four national awards. Starring Sunjay Dutt and Vidya Balan, the film was cited for “revalidating the philosophy of non-violence in a strife-torn world and helping rediscover the Gandhi within the common man”. Besides, Abhijat Joshi, Raj Kumar Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra got the best screenplay award. The best lyricist went to Swanand Kirkire for the song ‘Bande Mein Tha Dum - Vande Mataram’. Dilip Prabhavalkar was adjudged best supporting actor for his roles in ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’ and in the

riginal tracks by south Indian composers, Lekha Rathina Kumar, have been chosen for the gymnastics events at the Beijing Olympics, starting August 8. “While my music available in the Germany-based Sonoton Library was selected earlier for the warmup events, I am composing original tracks to suit gymnasts’ body language during the Olympics,” said Kumar. The special symphony is being created by Kumar in collaboration of keyboard player Mani Sharma, flautist Sudhakar and sitar maestro Janardan.

Amitabh voted Asia’s sexiest vegetarian

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Yash Raj Films to create entertainment district in Dubai
op Indian entertainment house Yash Raj Films (YRF) has entered into a multi-million-dollar joint venture with investment firm Dubai Infinity Holding (DIH) to create an entertainment district in this West Asian metropolis. To be called Yash Raj Films Entertainment District, it will comprise theme park attractions, a movie palace, unique hotel concepts and Indian genre entertainment concepts, according to a DIH statement. All the components of the entertainment district will be themed around the YRF banner. “Bringing such a honoured name into the UAE (United Arab Emirates) has been a strategic move as it attracts the core demographic of the country,” DIH chief executive Samira Abdulrazzak said in the statement. “Furthermore Indian cinema has an increased general following within the region, as cinema statistics highlight that Bollywood films gross higher than Western films. This will be a one-of-a-kind partnership here in the UAE, which we are very proud to be associated with,” she added. The UAE is home to around 1.5 million expatriate Indians. “DIH is a dynamic investment company and what really counts is that we share a similar vision,” YRF head Yash Raj Chopra said. The first phase of the Yashraj Entertainment District is scheduled to be completed by 2012.

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egendary Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan has been voted Asia’s sexiest vegetarian male in a survey conducted by animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). While Hong Kong’s actress Faye Wong was voted Asia’s sexiest vegetarian female in the poll conducted among members of PETA .

DQ Entertainment ties up with MoonScoop

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yderabad-based animation entertainment company DQ Entertainment International (DQE) has entered into a strategic five-year alliance with Paris-based entertainment company MoonScoop to jointly produce television programmes and feature films, including those with Indian mythology and stories. MoonScoop group is a leading worldwide brand management and entertainment company engaged in the production, distribution of animated creations. 2008

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ook Review

The world of ‘girmitiyas’
From enforced opium cultivation, Indian indentured workers forge a world far from their homes in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar — amid the expanse and nether shores of the Indian Ocean...
Brahmins and other upper castes among the indentured workers. There were also a large number of Bengalis. The moment of departure was a time of loss and displacement, but the indentured ‘girmitiyas’ found the means to endure it — their greatest resource was their capacity to take pleasure in the little things of life, in their songs and rituals... The sailing ship Ibis had a varied group of characters among whom were the girmitiyas, who were thrown together in cramped conditions in the ship. It was an alien world out at sea with a frightening, unknown destiny awaiting them. But they slowly forged new relationships, enmities and rivalries also sprang up. The girmitiyas also forged the beginnings of a new community — they become ‘jahazi bhai and behen’ (ship brothers and sisters). Sea of Poppies links the decline of the opium trade and the emergence of the indenture migration with the rollicking world of the lascars — the Asian sailors of Indian, Malay and Javanese origin who ruled the Indian Ocean and beyond. The first part of Ghosh’s planned trilogy ends with a violent falling-out on the ship — a small group stealthily departs in the ship’s longboat by night, leaving the reader eagerly awaiting the second instalment of the saga. —By Shubha Singh

Making investment in India easier for overseas Indians.

Author: Amitav Ghosh Publisher: Penguin Viking Price: Rs.599.00; Pages: 528
he 1800s were a time of enormous social disruption and displacement in large parts of India. Poverty and loss of land holdings forced people to move to distant places. In his latest book Sea of Poppies, best-selling author Amitav Ghosh draws a connection between largescale opium cultivation in India for the Chinese market and the beginnings of the indenture system, which took over a million Indians through a span of 90 years to work on plantations in new colonies of the imperial powers. Ghosh brings it together, painting a wide canvas of life in northern India in early 19th century in a saga full of action, drama and adventure. He reveals a little known fact of the history of opium cultivation in 19th century India — it formed about 20 percent of the country’s revenue till the 1920s. It was grown in India under an extreme form of contract farming in parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the 1830s to be sold by the East India Company (EIC) to China. The large-scale enforced farming of a single cash crop disturbed the subsistence agriculture of the region for it did not allow the farmers to grow food for their own consumption. Opium cultivation impoverished the farmer as the monopolistic EIC offered low returns for the poppy

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crop. The trade declined after the Chinese banned its import and the British launched the opium wars to force open the Chinese market. It was about that time when slavery was abolished in the British Empire and plantation owners in Mauritius and other colonies urgently required workers to replace the newly freed slaves on the sugarcane plantations. The slave ships were quickly divested of their chains and shackles and perfunctorily refurbished to carry the indentured workers to Mauritius. The social and economic disruption caused by the colonial policies resulted in many people accepting the indenture contract and eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar became the epicentre of the indenture movement. During his research, Ghosh discovered that contrary to popular perception, many people came back home after completing their contract, though most people chose not to return to India. Some of those who returned went back later to Mauritius. He also found letters written by people in Mauritius inviting their relatives and friends to join them. It was, in fact, those who had returned home that became the most actively involved in the organisation of migration in India. Another myth of indenture is that it was mainly the lower castes who migrated, but Ghosh discovered many

For details contact:
Col. Harmit Singh Sethi Chief Executive Officer - OIFC & Director, CII 249-F, Sector 18, Udyog Vihar, Phase IV Gurgaon - 122 015, Haryana, INDIA Tel: +91-124-4014060-67 / 4014071 Fax: +91-124-4014070 Website: www.oifc.in

Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs

Confederation of Indian Industry

46 pravasi bharatiya | july 2008

NALANDA: SEAT OF LEARNING

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alanda, founded in the 5th century AD, is well-known the world over as an ancient seat of learning. The ruins of this erstwhile residential university of Nalanda near Patna, in Bihar, are the silent reminders of the high levels of accomplishment attained in the field of education and learning in India in the past. Nalanda was one of the best known universities of its time, attracting thousands of students from far off places. Scholars all over Asia and other countries in the Middle East had learnt about Nalanda and continued to visit Nalanda till its destruction by Turkish and Afghan invaders in the 12th century. Though the Buddha visited Nalanda several times during his lifetime, this famous centre of Buddhist learning shot to fame much later, during 5th-12th centuries. Hieun Tsang stayed here in the 7th century AD and left detailed description of the excellence of its education system and the purity of monastic life practised here. He also gave a vivid account of both the ambience and architecture of this unique university. In this first residential international university of the world, 2,000 teachers and 10,000 monks students from all over the Buddhist world lived and studied here. The Gupta kings patronised these monasteries, built in the old Kushan architectural style, in a row of cells around a courtyard. Emperors Ashoka and Harshavardhana were some of its most celebrated patrons who built temples, monasteries and viharas here. Recent excavations have unearthed elaborate structures here. An International Centre for Buddhist Studies was established here in 1951. Nearby is Biharsharif, where an annual urs is celebrated at the Dargah (tomb) of Malik Ibrahim Baya. Baragaon, two kilometres away has a sun temple, famous for its Chhath puja. The place is now one of the biggest tourist destinations in Bihar and attracts tourists, especially Buddhists, from all over the world.

Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs
www.moia.gov.in, www.overseasindian.in

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