The South Asian Times

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Vol.7 No. 35 Dec 27-Jan 2, 2015 60 Cents

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Pope condemns Islamic State, decries suffering of children
The Vatican: Pope Francis on
Thursday condemned the "brutal
persecution" of minorities by
Islamic State insurgents and said
the joy of Christmas was marred by
the suffering of children in the
Middle East and around the world.
Tens of thousands of people
flocked to St. Peter's Square to hear
the Argentine pope deliver his
"Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the
world) blessing and message,
marking the second Christmas
since his election last year.
He condemned Islamic State (IS)
fighters who have killed or displaced Shi'ite Muslims, Christians
and others in Syria and Iraq who
do not share the group's ideologies.
"I ask him, the savior of the
world, to look upon our brothers
and sisters in Iraq and Syria, who
for too long now have suffered the

effects of ongoing conflict, and
who, together with those belonging
to other ethnic and religious
groups, are suffering a brutal perse-

cution," he said. Later he departed
from his text and spoke emotionally of "children displaced due to
Continued on page 4

A volatile year comes to an end

he year 2014 began with a
new terrifying entity –
Islamic State – taking control of swathes of Iraq and Syria.
And before ending, it inflicted on
the world the horrific carnage of
school children in Peshawar at the
hands of Pakistan Taliban. In
between there was the usual mix of
the good, the bad and the ugly. For


OP ED 12

Uncle Sam gifts
Pak $1 billion,
mum on LeT, LeJ

Pope Francis kneels as he leads the Christmas night mass in
Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican December 24, 2014.

Indian Americans celebrate Christmas at Jersey City Catholic Church in New Jersey
on Dec 25, 2014. (Photo: Mohammed Jaffer/IANS)

By SATimes Team

Follow us on

India, it was a good year overall.
Narendra Modi rode to power
promising to end years of policy
paralysis in New Delhi. He has
unfurled a host of schemes to speed
up development, the results of
which will take time to manifest
and percolate down to the common
man. But the Hindutva hotheads,
meanwhile, are distracting from his
overt agenda of good governance
Continued on page 4


PBD 19

Happy New Year!!!
Please look out for our
upcoming collectible
Special Edition - Welcoming
2015. Coinciding with
Pravasi Bharatiya Divas
2015. Wrapping 2014 and
featuring The South
Asian Times Person of
the Year 2014.


Pakistani army chief Gen Raheel Sharif's visit to Washington DC
last month eased up the tension between the US and Pakistan,
and Islamabad beginning to free its so-called "good terrorists"
from Punjab. (right) Lashkar-e-Taiba chief and 26/11 Mumbai
attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed continues to roam freely in
Pakistan and holds anti-India rallies.

Washington, DC: A defense
authorization bill signed by
President Obama last week that
provides for $1 billion in aid to
Pakistan in 2015 conditions it on
Islamabad taking steps to disrupt
the Haqqani Network and eliminating safe havens of al-Qaida and
Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.
However, it makes no mention of
the Punjab-centric terror groups
such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)
aka Jamaat-ul-Dawa (JuD),
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and others
that are considered proxies of the
Pakistani state for use against
A review of the text of S.1847
(Carl Levin and Howard P 'Buck'
McKeon National Defense
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year
2015), shows US emphasis on calling Pakistan to account for terrorist
activity on its western flank, mainly through the Taliban, which
impacts the US drawdown in
Afghanistan, reports The Times of
But missing from the legislation
is any concern, let alone any condi-

tions, about Pakistan's fostering of
the Punjabi terror groups such as
LeT that not only attacked Mumbai
on 26/11 (in which six Americans
were also killed), but also the LeJ,
a sectarian outfit that has killed
hundreds of Pakistani Shias. Both
groups are patronized by Pakistan's
military and political establishments, which derive their power
from the country's heartland of
west Punjab, much like the terror
groups themselves.
A charitable explanation for the
legislative oversight (or lack of it)
maybe to take into account the
broad and fleeting reference to
"other militant extremist groups" in
the text of the legislation. But in a
remarkable coincidence, the
Pakistan establishment began freeing its so-called "good terrorists"
from Punjab even as President
Obama signed the defense authorization bill on December 19. The
easing up also followed the
Pakistani army chief Gen Raheel
Sharif's visit to Washington DC
last month. The Pakistani courts
Continued on page 4

excellence in journalism

December 27-January 2, 2015

Microsoft CEO Nadella meets
Modi to invest more in India
New Delhi: Keen to
invest more in India,
pledged support to
Narendra Modi's
Digital India initiative. He is the third
major tech executive
to meet Modi, after
Amazon's Jeff Bezos
Mark Zuckerberg.
Satya Nadella called on PM Modi Friday.
Nadella also met finance minister have-nots," communication and
Arun Jaitley and telecom minister IT ministry stated. Prasad also
Ravi Shankar Prasad and dis- shared with him India's potential
cussed modernization and securi- in e-commerce and how connecty of the government's digital tivity can play a role in harnessing
this potential
Microsoft is keen on collaboratThis was his second visit to
India since taking over as global ing with the government in proCEO of $86 billion tech giant viding last mile internet connectivity, especially through the WiMicrosoft.
Sources in the finance ministry Fi technology, the statement
said Nadella had informed Jaitley added.
Nadella also shared his ideas on
that Microsoft was keen on
modernization of government
"investing more" in India.
"He (Prasad) told the Microsoft with Prasad stating that Microsoft
CEO that Digital India started at can help in building secure govthe PM’s behest is designed to ernment-controlled digital infrabridge the gap between haves and structure.


New York: Sharada Bhansali, cofounder of AccountantsWorld, a
leading provider of cloud-based
solutions for accountants, has
been named one of the Top Most
Powerful Women in Accounting
by CPA Practice Advisor, a leading technology and practice management resource for accounting
and tax professionals offered in
online and print versions. The
announcement and awards were
presented at The Sleeter Group's
2014 Accounting Solutions
Conference held last month at
Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.
The award reflects the ever
increasing number of women
involved in the accounting industry and the influence that they
have in the development of technology which helps accountants
succeed and grow their practices.
"This is truly a great honor, not
only for me, but for professional
women all across the US. It
reflects how the industry has
changed, and demonstrates the
impact that women have had on
all areas of the industry be it technology, research or running their
own business" said Sharada.
Long Island based Sharada
holds a Master's in both
Engineering and Mathematics.

Madhavan B Nair, President of NAMAM, with the honorees.

dent Obama's Advisory Council on
Faith-Based and Neighborhood
Partnerships. She is the founder of
Hindu American Seva Charities and
serves on the Department of Homeland Security’s Faith-based Advisory Council and assists the President’s Interfaith and Community
Service Campus Challenge.
Padmakumar Nair (aka: Matt Kumar) is the CEO of Software Incu-


Sharada Bhansali named one of most
powerful women in accounting

NAMAM honors 5 with Excellence Awards in NJ
New Jersey: NAMAM, a cultural
organization based in New Jersey,
gave Excellence Awards to five individuals for their contributions to the
Indian-American community at a
glittering ceremony attended by over
400 people on December 13 at the
Deewan Banquet Hall in Piscataway, NJ.
Dr. Sreedhar Kavil, Anju Bhargava, Padmakumar Nair, Paul
Karukappillil, and Dr. Rasiklal Patel
were the recipients.
Dr. Sreedhar Kavil, President of
Kavil Consultants, served as the
Chairman of Department of Marketing at St. John's University and
continues there as a Marketing Professor. He is Chairman of the US Indian American Chamber of Commerce in Washington DC. He was
President of Kerala Center in New
York and now chairs the Advisory
Board of World Malayalee Council.
Anju Bhargava served on Presi-

December 27-January 2, 2015

bator Inc. He is a serial entrepreneur.
His new ventures such as InDunia
and InDuniaInt are expected to
transform Real Estate, Healthcare,
Auto and Chemical & Petroleum
markets. His offices in Trivandrum,
India employ over 300 people, 70 %
of them being poor women.
Rasiklal A Patel, MD has been
practicing Internal Medicine since
Continued on page 4

Sharada Bhansali is the
co-founder with her husband
Chandra Bhansali of Long
Island based AccountantsWorld

She has led the development of a
new class of "accountant-centric"
solutions, making a long-lasting,
significant contribution to the
accounting profession. As an
entrepreneur, she has been serving
the accounting profession for over
30 years. In 1984, she founded
Micro Vision Software, a leading
producer of desktop solutions for
accounting professionals. Micro
Vision's Tax Relief system was a

highly acclaimed professional tax
software package and the first to
take full advantage of the
Microsoft Windows platform.
Along with her husband, Dr.
Chandra Bhansali, Sharada cofounded AccountantsWorld in
Hauppauge, NY, where together
they are forging new paths with
cutting edge, accounting-centric
software such as Accounting
Power™, Payroll Relief, Cloud
Directory Listing, After-the-Fact
Payroll and Practice Relief - all
designed specifically for accountants.
AccountantsWorld has been offering a complete, integrated suite of
innovative cloud-based accounting, payroll, and practice management solutions to help accountants work collaboratively with
clients, foster greater client loyalty, and improve the profitability
of their practices.
AccountantsWorld is also the
only leading cloud solution
provider that puts Accountants
First™ by never competing with
accountants or selling services
directly to their clients.
For more information go to

US court dismisses ‘84 rights violation
case against Congress party
New York: A federal appeals court
has dismissed a 1984 Sikh rights violation case filed against the Congress party by a rights group, saying
that the case does not sufficiently
"touch and concern" the US.
A three-judge panel of the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed charges made by Sikhs for
Justice (SFJ) that the Congress was
responsible for extra judicial killings
and the riots that followed the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
The panel ruled on December 19
that "even assuming that, as plaintiffs
allege, defendants-appellees Indian
National Congress Party and (Congress leader) Kamal Nath carried out
or were responsible for acts of violence against Sikhs, those acts were
taken by Indian nationals against
other Indian nationals in India. Under the presumption against extra ter-

ritoriality, we lack jurisdiction over
plaintiffs' claims."
The panel said the victims' claim
lack "sufficient touch and concern"
with the US and also declined to rule
on the issues of plaintiffs' standing,
the sufficiency of service of process
and personal jurisdiction.
"Accordingly, because all of the
conduct relevant to the alleged ATS
(Alien Torts Statute) violations occurred abroad, defendants' alleged
presence in the US is insufficient to
displace the presumption against extraterritoriality and to establish jurisdiction under the ATS," the appeals
court said. Welcoming the ruling of
the court, Congress party's attorney
Ravi Batra told PTI that SFJ should
accept that its "lawsuit campaign is
wrong, stop now and give up." But
SFJ legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh
Pannun said that the group will re-litigate the case.


December 27-January 2, 2015

Indian-American attorney, wife
charged with insider trading
n Indian-American
attorney and his wife
have been charged
with insider trading after they
used confidential information obtained from a corporate client about a pharmaceutical company and avoided thousands of dollars in
Preetinder Grewal agreed to
pay $90,000 to settle the federal regulator US Securities
and Exchange Commission's
charges, and Shivbir also
agreed to be suspended from
practicing as an attorney before the SEC on behalf of any
publicly traded company or
other entity regulated by the
The SEC alleges that while
serving as outside counsel to
a pharmaceuticals company
last year, Shivbir learned that
the company was on the
brink of announcing a signif-


icant decline in expected revenue due to an unanticipated
drop in orders for its top-selling drug. Shivbir sold his entire investment in the company's stock within 48 hours of
getting the nonpublic information from company officials who sought the disclosure advice of his law firm.
He tipped his wife, who also
sold all of her shares on the
basis of the nonpublic information. The day after they
sold their stock, the company
issued a statement revealing
the expectation of decreased
sales of a drug and the consequent expectation of reduced
revenue, and the company's
stock price fell more than 35
per cent. The couple avoided
losses of nearly $ 45,000 by
selling ahead of the bad
news. The SEC's complaint
alleges that the Grewals violated provisions of the Securities Act.

2nd International Hindi Conference in NJ in April
New Jersey: The Consulate General of India, New York, and
Rutgers University, New Jersey have joined hands with Hindi
Sangam, the consortium of non-profit Hindi groups, to organize the second International Hindi Conference for three days
from April 3 to 5, 2015 at Rutgers. The theme of the conference is: The Expanding World of Hindi: Possibilities and Challenges. The theme reflects the growing urgency for coordinated efforts by the language education (public and private), government and business communities to expand and develop the
quality of the Hindi field inside and outside of India.
A variety of sessions will be held during the conference to discuss: 

Current status of the teaching and learning of Hindi 
Individual and organizational partnerships and leadership 
Field capacity building and infrastructure building skills
and topics, such as material selection and development funding, professional development of teachers, and volunteer management.

Uncle Sam gifts Pak $1 billion..
Continued from page 1
first released 26/11 planner Zaki-ur
Lakhvi from prison, temporarily holding him back following Indian outrage;
Islamabad then dawdled over filing
replies in court in the case against JuD
chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, saying
it is yet to get response to its questions
from the US; most recently, it released
LeJ head Malik Ishaq, who is accused
of scores of sectarian murders inside
Pakistan, before extending his incarceration for two weeks following outrage within Pakistan, adds The Times.
All this time, it has made a big to-do
over the Peshawar school attack being
a turning point in its fight against terrorism, hanging some half dozen "bad
terrorists" from the Taliban stock while
taking the heat off Punjab-based terrorist groups. The country's ruling Punjabi
elite, including the Prime Minister and
the Army chief, have made grandiose
statements about how Pakistan owes it
to future generations to fight terrorism
and how the days of terrorists are numbered etc.
In a speech earlier this week, Prime
Minister Sharif promised to take action
against all terrorist groups, including
those from Punjab. He also promised
to take measures against media sources
that "empower terrorism."
But in a review of the Pakistani
media, Tufail Ahmed, an analyst with
the Washington-based Middle East
Media Research Institute (MEMRI),
found that even as there was an
upsurge in sentiment against jihadists
in Pakistan's small liberal press (read
by outsiders and elites), the larger,
more powerful Urdu media was blaming India and its intelligence agency
RAW for the Peshawar bombing.
In a rude reminder of Pakistan's long
history of sheltering terrorists,
Bloomberg New Service this week ran
a story about the country hiding
Dawood Ibrahim, the Indian fugitive
accused in the Mumbai serial bomb
attack in 1993, under the headline
"Pakistan's Secret Guest: Why
Neighbors Doubt Terrorism Fight."

But all this has made no impression
on the US Congress or the State
Department that continues to dole out
American tax-payer money to Pakistan
without it stamping out ALL its terrorist groups. Many scholars are now
warning that the Pakistan is losing an
opportunity to squarely tackle terrorism by acting selectively against terrorists from K-P but not the terror groups
based in the Punjab that the Pakistani
establishment uses for its proxy war
against India.
Pope condemns Islamic State..
Continued from page 1
war and persecution, abused and taken
advantage of before our very eyes and
our complicit silence."
"I think also of those infants massacred in bomb attacks, also those where
the Son of God was born," he said,
without elaborating. Again without
elaborating, he spoke of "contemporary
Herods," with blood on their hands,
referring to the Biblical king who
ordered children to be killed because
he saw Jesus as a threat to his power.
He also spoke of "infants killed in the
womb" condemning abortion as a
product of "a culture that does not love
Speaking of the plight of refugees he
asked that "indifference be changed
into closeness and rejection into hospitality, so that all who now are suffering
may receive the necessary humanitarian help to overcome the rigors of winter, return to their countries and live
with dignity." He appealed for an end
to conflicts in African countries, urged
dialogue between Israelis and
Palestinians, condemned the attack by
Taliban militants that killed more than
130 students in Pakistan last week, and
thanked those helping the victims of
the Ebola epidemic.
A volatile year comes to an end
Continued from page 1
and welfare of all. India commiserated
with Pakistan after the Peshawar
attack. For once, consensus seems to
be emerging in a shaken Pakistan to

combat terrorism. But India is far from
assured that Islamabad will stop abetting proxies like LeT and using them
against India.
In America, after Democrats lost the
Senate to GOP in midterms, President
Obama, through an Executive Action,
gave some relief to illegal immigrants.
ISIS beheading of Americans spurred
Washington to act against this new
enemy. No indictment for the police
officers who killed unarmed black men
in Ferguson and New York provoked
protests. The execution style killing of
two police officers in Brooklyn
increased headaches for Mayor de
Blasio and kept the race pot boiling.
NAMAM honors 5 with...
Continued from page 3
1977. He was the Chairman of the
Department of Medicine in Irvington
General Hospital, NJ. Currently, he is
affiliated with Beth Israel Medical
Center in Newark and the East Orange
General Hospital. He has served the
Indo-American Cultural Association in
NJ as chairman for 20 years.
Paul Karukappillil, is a founding member of the Federation of Kerala Associations in North America (FOKANA) and
served it in top positions. He is the treasurer of Indian Chamber of Commerce in
New York. Paul is the Chairman and
Publisher of Kerala Times Media. He is
one of the Directors of Jaihind Television
USA and Orthodox TV.
Dr. Manoj Kumar Mohapatra, Deputy
Consul General of India in New York,
announced at the event that the Consulate will be offering new and improved
systems to avail its services. A helpline is
being opened to urgently address any issue faced by the Indian community. He
also gave updates on PIO and OCI card
merger and the visa on arrival program.
In his Presidential address, Madhavan
Nair, Founder and President, said that
NAMAM focuses on preserving family
values, Indian culture and heritage.
The evening’s entertainment was provided by Anakh E Gabroo, Daksha Arts,
Malini Nair, Sowparnika Dance Academy and Suma Nair.

New Delhi Bureau
Meenakshi Iyer

Art and Design: Vladimir Tomovski
Bhagwati Creations,
Dhiraj Kumar

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December 27-January 2, 2015


New law allows schools to consider holidays for Diwali and Lunar New Year
SATimes Team
New York: For Indian American
families living in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo gives a
Christmas gift in form of Diwali
holidays. Cuomo approved a long
sought bill allowing schools to
consider holidays on Lunar New
Year and Diwali where there is
high Asian American population.
For decades, the city closed
schools for Christian and Jewish
holidays but other religious holidays like Eid and Diwali didn’t receive the same benefit. The bill,
introduced by Grace Meng, before
she became a member of Congress
and sponsored by Assemblyman
Ron Kim (D-Flushing) and by
state Sen. Toby Stavisky (DFlushing), was signed into law last
week. “New York has always been

State Sen. Toby Stavisky, center, speaks about the new law on
school holidays with other elected officials and Asian leaders.

a leader in religious and cultural
freedom and we demonstrate that
again today with the passage of the
bill. By allowing schools where a
significant number of students are

Shree Nayar elected to National
Academy of Inventors
New York: Columbia Engineering
Professor Shree Nayar has been
elected fellow of the National
Academy of Inventors (NAI) for
demonstrating “a highly prolific
spirit of innovation in creating or
facilitating outstanding inventions
that have made a tangible impact
on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.” He is among the 170 new fellows who will be inducted during
the NAI’s 4th Annual Conference
on March 20 at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
“It is wonderful to be an academic and be recognized as an inventor,” Nayar, the T.C. Chang Professor of Computer Science, was
quoted in a university press release
as saying. “I am honored to be a
part of such a remarkable group of
innovators.” Nayar, who directs the
Computer Vision Laboratory, has
published over 200 scientific articles and has been awarded more
than 40 patents for his inventions
related to digital imaging, computer vision, human-computer interfaces, and robotics. Today, his research results are widely used in
cameras for smart phones, industrial vision systems for factory automation, and rendering engines

Columbia Engineering
Professor Nayar’s research
results are widely used in
cameras for smart phones,
industrial vision systems for
factory automation, and
rendering engines for
computer graphics.

for computer graphics. He is the recipient of the David Marr Prize in
1990 and 1995, the David and Lucile Packard Fellowship in 1992,
the National Young Investigator
Award in 1993, and the NTT Distinguished Scientific Achievement
Award in 1994. He was elected to
the National Academy of Engineering in 2008 and the American
Academy of Arts and Sciences in
2011 for his pioneering work on
computational imaging and his
seminal contributions to physicsbased computer vision.

absent because of a religious or
cultural holiday to close, we are
sending a message to students and
families that New Yorkers respect
all traditions,” said Senator

The law calls for school districts
to consider closing schools on holidays that are important to groups
that account for at least 7.5 percent
of the local population. Research
associated with the bill shows that
Asian-American students make up
almost 15 percent of the city
school population, while in
Queens 23 percent of the 2.2 million residents are Asian. In Flushing, the percentage jumps to 57
Supporting the effort at PS 20
among others was Dr. Uma
Mysorekar, president of the Hindu
Temple Society of North America,
located in Flushing; Hellen Kim,
executive director of the Korean
American Youth Foundation; and
Lois Lee from the Chinese Planning Council.

“The Hindu Community is
deeply grateful to Assemblyman
Ron Kim, Senator Toby Stavisky
and the many elected officials for
their efforts in introducing this
bill. We are indeed thrilled to learn
that the bill has been passed and
approved by the Governor,” said
Dr. Uma Mysorekar, President of
Hindu Temple Society of North
spokeswoman Yuridia Pena issued
the following statement regarding
the change: “We are committed to
having a school calendar that reflects and honors the extraordinary
diversity of our students. Adding
new holidays to the calendar is a
goal that poses some logistical
challenges and we are actively
working toward overcoming

Diplomat Khobragade stripped of
her charge; won’t resign
New York: Diplomat Devyani
Khobragade, who was stripped of
her duties over unauthorized
statements to the media, told
NDTV on Saturday that she was
not going to resign from her post,
despite facing an administrative
"There is no question of resigning (from the Foreign Service). I
have not violated any service
rules," the diplomat told NDTV.
Reports on Saturday said Khobragade has been removed from
her current post in the foreign
ministry for an unauthorized media interview and for not disclosing that her children held US
The Indian government's action
comes a week after the motherof-two spoke to NDTV about her
arrest and strip search in New
York last December while serving as India's deputy consul-general
on charges of mistreating her servant.
She had denied the charge and
subsequently returned to India, but
the incident triggered fury in New
Delhi and led to the resignation of
then US ambassador Nancy Powell.
The row saw weeks of feisty ex-

Devyani Khobragade

changes that strained bilateral ties
and left resentment on both sides.
On whether she considered her decision to speak to the media a mistake, Khobragade said, "I have spoken under the ambit of conduct
rules. The rules clearly stipulate that
you have to mention (during such interviews) that you are expressing
your personal views, which I did.

You do not say anything that
can be taken as a negative
view of government policies; I
have not done anything like
"It is true that she has been
placed on compulsory wait," a
source in the foreign ministry
told news agency Agence
France-Presse, adding that
Khobragade now faces an administrative inquiry. Compulsory wait implies that Khobragade remains in ministerial
service but without a specific
job. During the interview to
NDTV last week, she said that
her "kids were born in the US
and are considered US citizens", a statement that reportedly took the ministry by surprise.
Defending dual passports
for her children, Khobragade
said, "It is mandated by Indian as
well as US laws. Minor and dependent children are allowed dual citizenship. I had no other option but to
take the American passport to take
my children to the US."
"If there is any appeal-able action
against me, I will appeal," she



December 27-January 2, 2015

UN panel removes ‘Sahib’ from Hafiz
Saeed’s name, regrets mistake
United Nations: A UN panel has
regretted the use of the salutation
“sahib” for the Mumbai terror attack mastermind and JuD chief
Hafiz Saeed and issued a “revised”
letter removing the word after India objected to it. The chair of the
Security Council’s Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee issued a revised
letter in which it has "regretted the
mistake" in the previous letter dated Dec. 17.
The committee’s chair is Gary
Quinlan, who is the permanent representative of Australia to the UN.
Quinlan had made the reference
to Saeed in the communication on
information regarding banned terror organization Lashkar-e-Taiba
and its founder Saeed.
The new letter clearly mentions
the correct primary name of the
Pakistani terrorist as Hafiz Mohammed Saeed.
The United Nations had declared

JuD a terrorist organization in December 2008. Saeed himself is a
UN-designated terrorist.
The resolution entails the freezing of funds and other financial assets or economic resources of designated individuals and entities,
and prevention of entry into or
transit through their territories by
designated individuals.
The United States had slapped a
$10 million bounty on Saeed and
his brother-in-law in April 2003.
But Saeed roams freely in Pakistan and addresses public rallies in
which he routinely makes inflammatory statements.
Pakistan high commissioner to
India Abdul Basit had in September said, "Hafiz Saeed is a Pakistani national so he is free to roam
around," triggering a sharp response from India which termed
the JuD chief an “evil” mastermind
of the 26/11 attacks.

Maragos: $21.4M in tax refund checks
going to Sandy damaged homes
Mineola, NY: Nassau County
Comptroller George Maragos
announced that 6,700 refund
checks will be mailed now on
through early January 2015, to
compensate homeowners whose
tax assessments were not adjusted lower for tax years 2012/13
and 2013/14 to reflect the damage from Superstorm Sandy. The
average refund is $3,100 with
five percent receiving amounts
greater than $5,000. There are
approximately an additional
2000 applicants whose claims
require further determination by
the County Assessor. These refund checks may take somewhat
longer and represent an additional $8 to $9 million in possible refunds. “I am happy that Superstorm Sandy affected homeown-

ers and businesses are finally
getting relief for the damages
they suffered,” said Comptroller
George Maragos. “I apologize if
the payments took longer than
originally expected but we had to
verify every claim and ensure
that our residents received the
maximum reimbursements allowed by law.” County Executive Mangano announced the
Sandy relief initiative on October 30th of 2013. Under the “Superstorm Sandy Assessment Relief Act” Nassau County adjusted, retroactively, any property
tax assessment to account for
losses in value due to Superstorm Sandy. The County bonded $35 million to pay for the anticipated Sandy property tax
over-assessments with the com-

mitment from Governor Cuomo
that the County would be repaid
by New York State.
“My administration helped develop this program so that homeowners and employers impacted
by Superstorm Sandy would receive relief for the damages they
suffered,” said County Executive
Mangano. "While some taxpayers received a credit on their tax
bills already, I'm happy to learn
that checks are now on their way
to those who haven't yet received
this important tax relief."
The table below shows the top
12 municipalities which will receive 90% of the refund checks.
Long Beach will receive 1324
refund checks, the most, followed by Massapequa with 878


Neeta Bhasin in NYC Comptroller’s
advisory council
o accelerate the inclusion of diverse firms in public and private
sector, New York City Comptroller
Scott Stringer has reached out to leaders
from government, corporate, academia
and advocacy organizations. Neeta
Bhasin, President and CEO of ASB Communications and Event Guru Inc., was one
of the leaders that the Comptroller
reached out to become a member of his
advisory council on Economic Growth
through Diversity and Inclusion.
The mission of the council is to develop
innovative ideas and approaches that will
result in increased opportunities and
greater success for minority and womenowned business enterprises (MWBEs) in
the public sector. Bhasin, along with other members of this council will be advising the Comptroller on how to improve
agency performance, increase transparency of city agencies and improve data entry to identify M/WBE contracts etc.
In addition to focusing on boosting procurement opportunities for M/WBE in the
public sector, the council is also focusing

New York Seniors mark 40th
event with music show


Neeta Bhasin

on improving diversity in corporate
America, from the boardroom to the factory floor to the supply chains.
Bhasin also plans on assisting Comptroller Stringer and his office in organizing educational seminars for South Asian
business owners, where they can learn
how to apply for public and private sector

Greater NY Senior’s 40th event was organized by Shashikant Patel and
Gopi Udeshi at Hindu Temple Community Center in Flushing, NY on
December 14. Singer and music director Bappi Lahiri entertained 700
strong crowd along with singers Rakesh Raj and Sarvari.
Congresswoman Grace Meng (center) highly appreciated
Mr. Patel and Udeshi for their selfless service towards the
Greater NY seniors’ community.


Indian-American alumni offer support
for Houston University

The Mehtas (left), The Agarwals (right)

Washington, DC: Two Indian-American families have offered financial support for the construction of a new research and engineering
building in the University of Houston campus.
The Mehta family with four siblings, who all
are alumni of the university's Cullen College of
Engineering, together with engineering graduate Durga Agrawal and his wife, Sushila, have
made significant contributions to construction
of the $51-million Multidisciplinary Research
and Engineering Building scheduled to be ready
for occupancy in 2016, according to a varsity
press release.
The new research facility will house "core
facilities shared by researchers from departments around the campus, including high-performance computing facilities, a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer lab and imaging
Renu Khator, University of Houston president, said the gifts highlight the university's
global student body.
"We continue to take pride in the University
of Houston's international stature, serving students, scholars and researchers from around the
world who are working to address global prob-

lems," she said.
"The enlightened generosity of the Mehta and
Agrawal families is helping to build a worldclass facility that allows UH to remain a welcoming and innovative place for this important
work," Khator added without giving details of
the contribution made by the Indian-American
The ground floor of the building will be
named the Mehta Family Engineering Research
Centre, while the second floor will be the Durga
and Sushila Agrawal Floor.
Both families have high regards for "the environment" offered by the university to its international students.
"It influenced us, and it gave us the ability to
adjust to the United States. And it wasn't just us.
They were dedicated to every international student," Jay Mehta, who earned his mechanical
engineering degree from the varsity, was quoted
as saying.
"The University of Houston was unique,
because I was able to continue working on my
education and also my life," said Durga
Agrawal, who has a long record of involvement
as a University of Houston benefactor.

Modi a leader with 'Plan Of Action':
Tulsi Gabbard
Washington, DC: Recalling Prime Minister
Narendra Modi's visit to America, United States
Congress member Tulsi Gabbard described
him as ‘man on a mission’ and as leader with
‘plan of action’ for India.
"I think that many of the elected leaders who
were there (Madison Square Garden) were not
quite prepared for the electric energy that was
in that room and the excitement, I can guarantee you none of us get welcome like that anywhere we go," Gabbard said.
Speaking at an event hosted by National
Association of Software and Services
Companies, she said "....I think that for the
elected officials who were there and even those
who didn't go, but heard about it later and
wished that they had gone, I think they recognized that Prime Minister Modi has strong
vision for where he would like to see India and
the opportunity that is there...."
"He is a man on a mission and he has a plan
of action -- that was made very clear.....," she
said. The sole Hindu member of the US
Congress and a Democrat Representative from
Hawaii is currently on visit to India.
Hailing Modi's initiative on International
Yoga Day, Gabbard said "....I have been a practitioner of Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga, I look
forward to working with him to be able to help
bring that about, the understanding about the

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard
meeting Indian PM Narendra Modi
in New Delhi

whole practice of Yoga...."
Speaking about her visit to India, she said
"....this trip is not only professional but is of
spiritual significance for me, as a devotee of
Lord Krishna and a follower of Bhagavad Gita,
I will be going and spending some time in
Vrindavan, and visiting some holy places
"It is a great opportunity to see how we can
highlight the opportunities that exist between
our two countries, how we can strengthen the
partnership and the friendship between United
States and India," she said.

December 27-January 2, 2015


Indian trade policies delayed American
export to India: USITC
Washington, DC: Restrictive Indian trade
policies have delayed American export and
investment to India, a USITC report has said
with the U.S. lawmakers asking the Narendra
Modi government to address these significant
areas of concern as both countries work to
strengthen economic relations.
"U.S. exports to and investment in India
would be significantly higher if not for Indian
policy barriers," the U.S. International Trade
Commission (USITC) said in its report "Trade,
Investment, and Industrial Policies in India:
Effects on the U.S. Economy."
Prepared at the request of lawmakers, the
report provides information on the effects of a
wide range of Indian policies that limit US
exports to and investment in India.
"U.S. exports to and investment in India
would be significantly higher if not for Indian
policy barriers," the U.S. International Trade
Commission (USITC) said.These policy measures include tariffs and customs procedures,
foreign direct investment restrictions, localcontent requirements, treatment of intellectual
property, taxes and financial regulations, regulatory uncertainty, and other non tariff measures, such as unclear legal liability, price controls, and sanitary and phytosanitary standards.
"We remain concerned about systemic and
continuing market access barriers identified in
the ITC's report that undermine a market-based
path to development for India and diminish
opportunities for U.S. workers and businesses," said the House Ways and Means

Committee Chairman Dave Camp, Ranking
Member Sander Levin (D-MI), and Senate
Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden and
Ranking Member Orrin Hatch in a joint statement. "We urge the Indian government to
address these significant areas of concern as
the United States and India work to strengthen
our economic relationship," the four American
lawmakers said. We are at a pivotal moment
for the U.S.-India relationship.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who recently
took the helm of the Indian government, has
spoken of a pro-growth vision for India. We
are hopeful that we may see a deepening
expansion of our long-term trade and investment relationship, which has already risen to
nearly $100 billion," the joint statement said.
In an effort to obtain the most comprehensive
and up-to-date information possible, in light of
India's national elections, the four lawmakers
requested in September that the Commission
conduct a second investigation of India's trade
and investment practices, scheduled to be
delivered to Congress on September 24, 2015.
The purpose of this second investigation is to
seek information concerning India's policies
since the first investigation, they said. The
report released on Monday features the results
of a USITC survey of US firms in selected
industries that are currently doing business in
India, a quantitative analysis (using economic
modeling) of the effects of Indian policy measures on US workers and the US economy, and
qualitative research into these effects.


December 27-January 2, 2015


More power to Indian diaspora in US
By Arun Kumar
Washington: Notching successes
in fields as diverse as poetry and
politics, some three million- strong
Indian American community
packed more power and influence
far beyond their numbers in the
year gone by.
A record 30 Indian Americans
jumped into November's electoral
battle with Republican Nikki Haley
and Democrat Kamala Harris handily winning back their jobs as South
Carolina governor and California's
attorney general respectively.
But Republican Neel Tushar
Kashkari lost an uphill battle
against California's popular governor Jerry Brown, while Rohit 'Ro'
Khanna nearly upset seven-term incumbent Mike Honda in a Democrat versus Democrat House contest
in Silicon Valley.
Amiresh 'Ami' Bera, the lone Indian American in the US House of
Representatives, repeated history
by winning a tight California
House race two weeks after the
elections as he had four years ago.
Eight Indian Americans scored
victories in the states with 23-yearold law student Niraj Antani, a Republican, creating history by winning a House seat in Ohio to become one of America's youngest
President Barack Obama, whose
administration has more Indian


Winning a second term, South
Carolina Governor of Indian
origin, Nikki Haley has
already been to India on a
trade mission.

Becoming Microsoft CEO,
Satya Nadella is the most
powerful Indian-born tech
executive in the world.

Americans than any other before,
added many more, including former key Hillary Clinton aide
Richard Rahul Verma as the first
envoy from the community to New
With Nisha Desai Biswal heading
the State Department's South Asia
bureau, Indian Americans would be
watching US interests in both
Washington and New Delhi when
Verma takes up his post.
Puneet Talwar took over as assistant secretary for political-military
affairs to serve as a bridge between
the State and Defence departments,
while Arun Madhavan Kumar became assistant secretary of commerce and director general of the

US and Foreign Commercial Service. Dr Vivek Murthy became the
youngest US Surgeon General and
the first of Indian descent after
cooling his heels for more than a
year for Senate confirmation as
'America's doctor' in the face of
strong opposition by powerful gun
Software giant Microsoft named
Hyderabad-born Satya Nadella as
its new CEO in place of Steve
Ballmer, making him perhaps the
most powerful Indian-born tech executive in the world.
Indian Americans yet again paid a
price for running more than half of
America's 150,000 convenience
stores with many of them becoming

machandra Guha and five Indian
American writers in its list of 100
notable books of 2014.
Two Indian American youngsters
made history as Sriram Hathwar
and Ansun Sujoe were declared cochampions in the Scripps National
Spelling Bee contest after 52 years
and for just the fourth time in the
contest's history.
New York's US attorney Preet
Bharara, known in India for his
dogged prosecution of Indian
diplomat Devyani Khobragade,
tasted his first defeat in July after
winning 85 insider trading cases.
Among those he sent to jail were
Rajat Gupta, the former Indian
American director of Goldman
Sachs Group, and Mathew Martoma, former portfolio manager
SAC Capital Advisors.
But Dinesh D'Souza, maker of a
highly critical 2012 documentary
on Obama, escaped jail time after
pleading guilty to violating the federal campaign finance law.
High-profile hotel magnate Sant
Singh Chatwal also was spared jail
time after pleading guilty to federal
campaign finance fraud.
Recognizing the contributions of
Indian Americans from workers
who built some of the first railroads
in the West to the creator of Hotmail, Smithsonian mounted a first
of its kind exhibition called "Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation".

A year of 'Modification' in India-US ties

By Arun Kumar
Washington: India-US relations are
poised for a takeoff after an eventful
year and a historic election that
transformed India's new leader
Narendra Modi from a US pariah to
a partner ready to "chalein saath
Modi hobnobbing with Russian
President Vladimir Putin and doing
"business as usual" with Moscow,
signing deals including one for 12
Russia-built nuclear units when the
landmark India-US nuclear deal still
remains stalled, made the US
The American media too raised
questions about how India could be
"BFF" with both the US and Russia,
but President Obama was unwilling
to spoil the party with an "important
partner" and stuck to his plans to
make a "historic" visit to India as
guest of honor on its Republic Day
and build on Modi's "hugely successful" US visit in September.
At the turn of the year, in the midst
of a major diplomatic row over the
arrest and alleged strip search of an
Indian diplomat in New York, US
diplomats were still tying themselves
in knots over how to deal with an as-

targets when Ferguson exploded after a white policeman killed an unarmed black teenager in August.
Amid growing protests over the
treatment of blacks, Obama named
Vanita Gupta to lead the US justice
department's civil rights division
charged with enforcing laws that
prevent discrimination.
Kerala-born Stanford University
Professor Thomas Kailath received
the Medal of Science from Obama
for his "transformative contribution
to science and technology", while
Arun Majumdar, an IIT-Bombay
alumni, was chosen to serve as one
of four US Science Envoys.
Chennai-born scientist Subra
Suresh was inducted into the Institute of Medicine (IOM), making
him the only university president to
be elected to all three national academies.
Delhi-born Sujit Choudhry, a noted expert in comparative constitutional law, became the first Indian
American dean of the University of
California-Berkeley, School of
Law, a top US law school.
Indira Talwani and Manish Shah
became the first Asian American
federal judges in Massachusetts
and Obama's home state of Illinois
Bengaluru-born Indian American
poet Vijay Seshadri won the 2014
Pulitzer Prize for poetry while the
New York Times included the
works of Indian historian Ra-

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with President Obama
in White House

cendant BJP's PM candidate.
It was only in mid-February long
after all its Western allies had read
the writing on the wall that US Ambassador Nancy Powell chose to
travel to Ahmedabad to meet the man
whom the US had denied a visa for
nearly a decade over his alleged inaction during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
But it would be another month and

a half that, that the US would declare
that it was ready to do business with
and welcome whoever may be India's new prime minister.
In the end it just took a May 16
congratulatory phone call from Obama to Modi on the BJP's "success in
India's historic election" with an invitation to visit Washington "to further strengthen our bilateral relation-

ship" to cut the visa knot.
As a somewhat wary US began
wooing Modi in right earnest with
Obama again calling Modi the day
he took up the mantle of prime minister with a pledge to work closely
together with him "for years to
come", the media also discovered a
'new fashion icon' in him.
Defying prophets of doom, Modi
reciprocated in equal measure and
came calling in September-end for
what he himself later called a "hugely successful journey", hitting it off
with Obama, hard selling India to big
business and wowing Indian-Americans.
Breaking the ice at a 'warm' White
House dinner, a fasting Modi, sipping warm water and talking yoga,
and an indulgent Obama vowed to
"chalein saath saath - together we go
forward" to realize the full potential
of a renewed US-India partnership.
If Modi promised to take their
stalled landmark civil nuclear deal
forward and invited US defence
companies to invest in India, the US
committed to make joint and concerted efforts with India to dismantle
terrorist safe havens, including four
Pakistan-based groups.
With Modi promising a more busi-

ness-friendly environment, corporate America too reaffirmed its faith
and hope in the future of the US-India trade relationship with a commitment to invest $41 billion in India.
More was yet to come. With India
standing firm on its subsidized food
security program, the two agreed on
a so-called "peace clause" that ultimately paved the way for a historic
multilateral trade deal at the World
Trade Organization.
Amid the growing bonhomie,
Modi played another diplomatic
card, inviting Obama to join Republic Day celebrations as chief guest the first US president to get the honor and the first to visit India twice
while in office.
Modi's surprise whirlwind diplomacy earned him a spot in prestigious Foreign Policy magazine's list
of "100 Leading Global Thinkers"
while Time readers voted him as the
"Person of the Year."
Meanwhile, despite stunning reverses for his Democratic party in
the November Congressional elections, Obama issued an executive fiat
to shield about five million of an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, including over 450,000 Indians, from deportation.


December 27-January 2, 2015


Mayor-police tensions rise after NYPD cops killing On Christmas, Obama
New York: The point-blank shooting of
two New York City police officers last
week is testing whether Mayor Bill de
Blasio's brand of unapologetic liberalism
can work in a city that's spent decades under mayors who made law and order a top
De Blasio's pledge to reform police
practices helped sweep him into office
last year. And in recent weeks he's pushed
for the right of demonstrators to gather to
protest the killings of Michael Brown and
Eric Garner, two unarmed African-American men, at the hands of white police officers. But critics -- including those in the
police force -- are accusing him of fomenting an anti-police fervor that contributed to the killings of officers Wenjian
Liu and Rafael Ramos. They were ambushed Saturday by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, an
African-American with a criminal history, after he had made threatening posts
online. After shooting the officers, Brinsley ran into a subway station and committed suicide.
On Monday, de Blasio tried to reduce
tension in the city. "We have to get everyone to move away from anger and hatred," he said. "If there are differences,
we have to address them peacefully. We
have to give people faith that their concerns can be heard peacefully across the
spectrum and we have to move forward."
But during his afternoon press confer-

marks end of
Afghan combat

Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were killed in Brooklyn by a black man
who had come from Baltimore to carry out execution style cop killings.

ence, he also pushed back against his critics, calling remarks from the head of the
city's police union "wrong and mistaken." President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have spoken out on the
killings of Brown and Garner, calling for
Americans to open up a dialogue on race
and law enforcement and sharing their
own experiences with racism. Obama has
launched a task force to examine cases
where there may be uneven applications
of the law and propose fixes.
Past NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani and
others — largely Republicans — have
blamed de Blasio and even the President
for the blacks vs police issue boiling

6.4 million signed up for 2015 plans
Washington: About 6.4 million
Americans have selected a new
individual healthcare plan or
have been automatically signed
up again for a 2015 insurance
plan through the
website, a top U.S. health official
said on Tuesday, putting the
agency nearer its 9.1 million
The government agency's goal
of having at least 9.1 million people enrolled in the government
backed plans in 2015 compares
with about 7 million in 2014, the
first year of this new insurance
created as part of the national
healthcare reform law and offer
income-based subsidies.
The 6.4 million figure includes
only plans sold in the 36 states
that use The rest
of the states, including California

and New York, have their own
online exchanges and have started to report data separately.
U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services Secretary Sylvia
Burwell said during a webcast
press briefing that she expects to
release nationwide enrollment in
a monthly report soon.
Out of the 6.4 million sign-ups,
about 1.9 million are new customers and 4.5 million are re-enrollments, Burwell said. People
who actively signed up for coverage in 2015 accounted for the mid
to high 30 percent range of re-enrollments, she said. had set a Dec.
15 deadline for customers to actively shop for a new plan or to be
re-enrolled automatically for coverage beginning Jan. 1. The enrollment period closes Feb. 15.

over. "We've had four months of propaganda starting with the President, that
everybody should hate the police. I don't
care how you want to describe it, that's
what those protests are all about," Giuliani said.
"He (de Blasio) never supports us on
anything," a police officer quoted by the
New York Times said.
NYC Police Commissioner Bill Bratton cautioned against politicizing the issue, but agreed that the shooting of the
two officers "was a direct spinoff" of the
recent protests, and that de Blasio has
work to do in rebuilding support within
the police community.

Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii: President Barack Obama
marked the end of more than a decade of combat in
Afghanistan by paying tribute to America's military,
telling troops on Christmas Day that their sacrifices have
allowed for a more peaceful, prosperous world to
emerge out of the ashes of 9/11.
At an oceanfront Marine Corps base in Hawaii, Obama told troops that while tough challenges remain for
the U.S. military in hotspots like Iraq and West Africa,
the world as a whole is better off because American
troops put country first and served with distinction. He
said Americans and their president could not be more
thankful. "Because of the extraordinary service of the
men and women in the American armed forces,
Afghanistan has a chance to rebuild its own country,"
Obama said to applause from Marines and their families.
"We are safer. It's not going to be a source of terrorist attacks again." Thirteen years and $1 trillion later, the U.S.
is preparing to pull the vast majority of its combat troops
out of Afghanistan by year's end, as the U.S. and its partners seek to turn the page on a bloody chapter that started the day that al-Qaida militants struck American soil
on Sept. 11, 2011. From a peak 140,000 troops in 2010,
the U.S. and NATO plan to leave just 13,500 behind for
training and battlefield support. Although there are reasons for cautious optimism, including a new Afghan
president whose seriousness of effort has inspired U.S.
confidence, the broader picture still looks glim.

Staten Island Rep. Grimm pleads guilty to
tax evasion, won’t resign
New York: Staten Island Rep.
Michael Grimm has pleaded
guilty to a federal tax evasion
charge that he fought as he won
re-election this fall.
Grimm entered the plea Tuesday in federal court in Brooklyn
in a case stemming from an investigation of his campaign financing.
He pleaded guilty to one count
of aiding in the filing of a false
tax return. He’d been set to go to
trial in February.
Sentencing is set for June 8.
Prosecutors said between 24 and
30 months in prison would be appropriate; the defense estimated
the appropriate sentence as 12 to
18 months.
According to an indictment,
the tax fraud began in 2007 after
Grimm retired from the FBI and


began investing in a small Manhattan restaurant called Healthalicious.
The indictment accused him of
underreporting more than $1
million in wages and receipts to
evade payroll, income and sales

taxes, partly by paying immigrant workers, some of them in
the country illegally, in cash.
Asked outside court if he
planned to resign his seat,
Grimm said no. He added that he
planned to “get back to work.”


December 27-January 2, 2015


BJP holds key to
J&K government formation

Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP won 28, the BJP 25, the National
Conference (NC) 15 and the Congress 12 seats
in the 87-member state assembly.

Srinagar: Government formation
eluded both the National
Conference (NC) and the Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP) with the
BJP holding the key in Jammu
and Kashmir.
Both the NC and the PDP leaders say they are open to discussions regarding an alliance with
the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
to cobble a ruling alliance.
The BJP's pre-condition of a
Hindu chief minister in the state,
at least for half the six-year term
the new government would have
in office, has become the Adam's
apple the NC and the PDP can
neither swallow nor throw up.
"That is something we fought
elections to stop from happening
because of the fact that the only
Muslim majority state of the

country should not be forced on
an emotional issue like that," said
a senior NC leader who also confirmed that as of now the NC
favours sitting in the opposition
and let the party's arch rival, the
PDP, grapple with the prospect of
aligning with the BJP.
The PDP won 28, the BJP 25,
the National Conference (NC) 15
and the Congress 12 seats in the
87-member state assembly. Seven
Independents also won.
Though the Congress has
offered support to the PDP for
government formation, the two
together make a figure of 40
while they need 44 seats to form a
simple majority.
Seven Independents hold the
key to government formation, but
their leanings are already clear.

The People's Conference headed
by Sajad Lone has two seats and
he is believed to have come closer
to the BJP after his meeting with
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
before the elections in the state.
Hakeem Yaseen of the People's
Democratic Front (PDF) has said
he would support the BJP while
the lone Independent from the
Jammu region, Pawan Kumar, is a
BJP dissident who fought elections from Udhampur seat. He is
likely to return to the BJP in near
Syed Bakir Rezvi, who won
with NC support from Zanskar in
Kargil district, would go either
way if promised a ministerial
berth, sources said.
This leaves just two others
Independent Engineer Rashid and
Yusuf Tarigami of the CPM.
Tarigami would not support a BJP
alliance while Engineer Rashid
would finally go where Hakeem
Yaseen chooses to go.
Despite Omar Abdullah's decision that he would not make government formation any easier for
either the PDP or the BJP, sources
here told IANS the BJP has sent
feelers to Omar's father Farooq
Abdullah, who is recovering after
a successful kidney transplant surgery in London. The NC offer of
support to the PDP for government formation initially made by
Omar On his Twitter account has
again been repeated. Despite its
repetition, the offer is seen here
more as a political taunt than a
serious workable proposition.
"Let them approach us in writing and only then would we be
able to consider it," said Altaf
Bukhari, PDP candidate who won
elections from Amira Kadal in
Srinagar district.

Raghubar Das
to be Jharkhand
chief minister

Raghubar Das, seen with Narendra Modi, is elected
as the BJP state legislature party leader.

Ranchi: Jharkhand is all set to
get its first non-tribal chief
minister with Raghubar Das
elected as the BJP state legislature party leader.
The BJP emerged as the single largest party with 37 seats,
while the AJSU bagged five in
the 81-seat assembly.
Das, a five-time legislator
from East Jamshedpur, will be
the 10th chief minister of
BJP legislators met at the
state party headquarters in
Ranchi in presence of central
oberservers J.P. Nadda and
Vinay Sharsabuddhe to elect
their leader in the state legislature.

Neelkanth Singh Munda proposed the name of Raghubar
Das, which was seconded by
two BJP legislators, C.P. Singh
and Saryu Rai.
After being elected as party
leader, Das told reporters: "The
development of the state is priority. The development of all
sections of the society will be
The BJP will stake claim to
form the government after
meeting Governor Syed
The Bharatiya Janata
Party-All Jharkhand Students
Union alliance won a clear
majority in the assembly

Is Jammu and Kashmir heading for Governor's Rule?
Srinagar: With no party in a
position to form a government
and with the PDP and the
National Conference not too
eager to ally with the BJP, is
Jammu and Kashmir inching
towards Governor's Rule?
No one is sure. But equally, no
one seems to know which two
parties or more can come together
in the hung 87-member legislature to cobble a majority.
The assembly polls threw up a
hung house, with the Peoples
Democratic Party winning 28
seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party a
record 25, the ruling National
Conference 18 and the Congress
slipping to 12 seats.

Smaller parties and independents collected the remaining
seven seats.
The predicament of the four
major parties is understandable.
The BJP started the election
campaign with a much hyped 44
plus agenda. Midway during the
campaign, it revised its target and
said it could garner more than 55
The PDP kept on asserting it
would form the next government
on its own as it expected nothing
less than 44 seats, the minimum
number needed to take power.
PDP spokesman Naeem Akhtar
put up a brave face even when the
last round of vote count was on.

The National Conference said it
would win more than the 28 seats
it had in the outgoing house with
a better showing in the Muslimmajority Kashmir Valley. That
didn't happen.
After the results came out, outgoing Chief Minister Omar
Abdullah said there was victory in
defeat since many, including the
media, had predicted that the
National Conference would not
reach the double figure.
Now the big question is: which
of the parties can come together
to form a government in the country's only Muslim-majority state.
Initially it appeared the National
Conference had reached some

kind of an agreement with the
BJP. The speculations were
fuelled by Abdullah's visit to New
Delhi Dec 24.
But when Abdullah landed in
Srinagar, some of his legislators
came out publicly against an
alliance with the BJP. There is
also uneasiness in the Kashmir
Valley about a Hindu chief minister.
This shifted the media focus to
the PDP. When BJP general secretary Ram Madhav reached
Srinagar Thursday, senior PDP
leader and MP Muzaffar Hussain
Baig held two rounds of talks
with him.
It was then widely felt that the

PDP and the BJP might shake
hands after all.
But PDP spokesman Baig clarified he had met Madhav in his
individual capacity and not as a
PDP negotiator.
It is increasingly clear that both
the National Conference and the
PDP are shying away from admitting that they can stitch an
alliance with the BJP. But the BJP
is no more coy about its dealings
with them.
This posturing by the National
Conference and the PDP is likely
to delay the possibilities of an
early government formation in
Jammu and Kashmir.


Vajpayee, Malviya named for Bharat Ratna
New Delhi: The government
named former prime minister Atal
Bihari Vajpayee and late freedom
fighter-educationist Pandit Madan
Mohan Malaviya for India's highest civilian honor, the Bharat
A Rashtrapati Bhavan communique said: "The president has been
pleased to award Bharat Ratna to
Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya
(posthumously) and to Shri Atal
Bihari Vajpayee."
The announcement comes a day
ahead of Vajpayee's 90th birthday
and coincidentally Malaviya's
153rd birth anniversary on
Christmas. The Narendra Modi
government is observing Dec 25 as
Good Governance Day.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
hailed the announcement. The
Congress also welcomed it.
"Bharat Ratna being conferred on
Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya and
Atal Bihari Vajpayee is a matter of
great delight. The country's highest
honour to these illustrious stalwarts
is a fitting recognition of their service to the nation," the prime minister said in a statement.
The honor for Gwalior-born
Vajpayee, who was the country's
prime minister first in 1996 and
then again from 1998 to 2004,
came after years of demands from
people across party affiliations and
the public at large.
The announcement came in the
first year of the Modi government.
Modi, during his Lok Sabha cam-

Atal Bihari Vajpayee and late freedom fighter-educationist
Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya

paign, had promised Bharat Ratna
for Malviya, founder of the
Banaras Hindu University.
Bharatiya Janata Party leaders,
including party veteran L.K.
Advani, had been demanding
Bharat Ratna for Vajpayee for several years. Advani had even written
about the matter to then prime minister Manmohan Singh.
Vajpayee will be the seventh
prime minister to receive the
award, after Jawaharlal Nehru,
Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi,
Morarji Desai, Lal Bahadur Shastri
and Gulzarilal Nanda.
Modi also tweeted his happiness:
"Atal ji means so much to everyone. A guide, inspiration & giant
among giants. His contribution to
India is invaluable."
Modi also posted an image of

himself with Vajpayee on his
Twitter account.
He also said Malaviya was
remembered as a phenomenal
scholar and freedom fighter who lit
the spark of national consciousness
among people.
The Congress welcomed the
announcement. Party general secretary Ajay Maken tweeted a congratulatory message after the
announcement was made.
Union ministers Sushma Swaraj,
Nitin Gadkari and Jaitley met
Vajpayee at his residence after the
Vajpayee has not been keeping
well for the past few years.
Advani said that among all the 14
prime ministers since independence, Vajpayee was one with a
"blemishless tenure".

December 27-January 2, 2015


Good Governance Day:
Modi gives citizen first mantra
New Delhi: Prime Minister
Narendra Modi said that "citizen first" was the mantra of his
government and promised a
transparent and accountable
administration as various ministries launched initiatives
towards e-governance to mark
the Good Governance Day.
In his message to the nation,
Modi said that it had been his
dream to bring government
closer to citizens so that they

become active participants in
governance and consistent
efforts had been made in this
direction over the last seven
"Citizen First is our mantra,
our motto and our guiding principle," he said.
The National Democratic
Alliance government had
decided to observe Good
Governance Day on December

Prime Minister Narendra Modi participating in cleanliness
drive at Jagannath Gali near Assi Ghat, Varanasi,
Uttar Pradesh.

Punjab Minister BS Majithia Pomp, gaiety mark Christmas across India
appears before ED
Jalandhar (Punjab): Enforcement
Directorate (ED) officials questioned Punjab Minister Bikram
Singh Majithia with regard to a
multi-million rupee international
synthetic drugs racket busted last
Majithia, who is the younger
brother of Union Minister for Food
Processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal,
faces allegations of having links
with certain non-resident Indians
(NRIs) who have been accused of
international money laundering
related to the drugs racket.
Majithia arrived at the regional
office of the ED in Jalandhar city,
150 km from Chandigarh.
The ED, a wing under the union
finance ministry, had sent summons
to Majithia, who is the revenue minister in the Parkash Singh Badal-led
government in Punjab, to appear
Dec 26.
The Punjab police had busted the
Rs.6,000-crore international synthetic drugs racket in the state in
2013. The ED conducted separate
investigations in the drug racket
case after serious allegations of

Punjab Minister Bikram Singh

money laundering emerged.
ED sources said that Majithia is
likely to be asked over 50 questions
by the officials regarding his links to
three NRIs and the money laundering racket associated with the drugs
Majithia is also the brother-in-law
of Punjab Deputy Chief Minister
and Shiromani Akali Dal president
Sukhbir Singh Badal (Harsimrat's
He is considered very powerful in
Punjab's ruling circles due to his
proximity to Sukhbir Badal.

New Delhi: Pomp and gaiety
marked Christmas celebrations
across India. President Pranab
Mukherjee and Prime Minister
Narendra Modi greeted the people
on the occasion.
In Delhi, Christmas was celebrated with prayers being offered
for the country's "well-being" as
well as the victims of the Dec 16
Peshawar school attack.
"We prayed for the well-being of
the country and also for those
innocent children who lost their
lives in Peshawar," Delhi Catholic
Archdiocese spokesman Father
Savarimuthu Shankar said.
"The celebrations went off very
well despite the rapid increase in
the number of non-Christians, who
visit the churches on Christmas,"
he said.
Midnight masses were held at
various churches across the capital. In Mumbai, the festive spirit
started with Midnight Mass in
hundreds of churches. It was
accompanied by prayers and
singing of carols.
Christian homes were illuminated with fairy lights and a welcoming Christmas tree, including the
country's biggest naturally growing Pine Conifer at the home of

A girl prays at St Paul's Cathedral on Christmas in Kolkata.

Douglas Saldanha in Worli, now
standing nearly 57-foot tall.
In Kerala, people from all walks
of life celebrated Christmas, starting their day with the mass and
savouring scrumptious meals such
as appam with fish molly, beef
roast and homemade cakes.
In most Christian homes, people
got up early and attended mass.
After the customary wine and a
piece of cake given by the parish
priest, they rushed back home for
the Christmas meal.
Christians make up 22 percent of
Kerala's 32 million population but
celebrations were evident even in

non-Christian homes sporting the
traditional star and a Christmas
tree. Christmas was also celebrated across northeast India with special prayers, hymns, and mass in
churches, besides the traditional
spread of delicious food.
Over 5.3 million Christians live
in Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya
and Manipur while there are a significant number of Christians in
the other northeastern states.
In Kolkata, people ushered in
Christmas with the wintry air
laden with the aroma of cakes and
wines and the lilting sounds of



December 27-January 2, 2015

India needs district-level governing autonomy for prosperity and stability
An Open Letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi
By Chandra K. Mittal,
M.S., Ph.D., FCP
Dear Honorable Prime Minister
Congratulations on your courageous move to dismantle the outdated Soviet-styled “Planning
Commission of India” and replace it
with the new body “Team India” to
decentralize planning and development of India. As you embark on
this critical task, please consider the
progressive concept of district-level
governing autonomy, which is
directly linked with economic
development. People indeed live
and experience life in cities and districts, and that is where citizens can
directly exert control over governance and their economic activities.
The concept of centralized economic planning and development is
alien to the institution of “democracy”. Historically, it has failed everywhere.
Given India’s political diversity
and population mass, State-level
controls for all aspects of economic
development have not yielded
results as has been witnessed since

independence. This is evident from
the current economic disparity
among the States. Decentralization
needs to percolate to the district
level to have any meaningful impact
on India’s stability and economic
Mr. Prime Minister, to the common citizen greatness of a country
consists in the conveniences of civil
life, personal safety, neighborhood
cleanliness, reliable health care,
quality education, employment
opportunities, etc. It does not matter
if some pockets of the country have
high GDP, or that country has a

strong military force, or impressive
foreign policy, or beautiful historic
monuments, if it lacks basic attributes of personal happiness for all its
citizens. Societies which have such
dichotomy need introspection and
take corrective measures to improve
life of its citizens – essence of a successful democracy.
At present, India has an over-centralized political, administrative and
budgetary controls at the National
and State government levels.
Despite economic reforms initiated
since 1991, the “top-down democracy” has allowed only a slow paced
e c o n o m i c
g r o w t h .
Political freedom is the prerequisite for economic growth.
Today, the decisions for Indian
citizens’ lives
are made in the
State capitals.
India is still suffering from the

“colonial hangover” where a few at
the top decide destiny of most citizens –a typical feudal mindset.
India has an average of about 2
million people residing in each district, which either equals or exceeds
total population of more than 100
countries in the world. These countries are autonomous and are able to
successfully provide public safety,
education, healthcare, civil infrastructure, etc for their citizens. But
in India, city-level administrations
with similar or bigger population
size are mostly relegated to collecting garbage, cleaning roads, or regulating building permits -- that too
not satisfactorily.
The solution to modernize India
lies in building city/district-level
autonomy for integrated development of the districts. The civil services under district autonomous control should be supported by public
funds from local, state and national
Because our constitution defines
Republic of India as Union of
States, the status-quoists would
argue that too much decentralization
of authority and freedom will lead
to political destabilization, social
unfairness, and even national disintegration. This is far from the truth.
If anything, it is too much Statelevel autonomy and control that is a
risk to national integrity because of
political diversity in India.
Commission” era, India has to be
innovative in creating conditions
conducive to economic development at the district level. The citizens of the districts (both rural and
urban areas) should be involved in

the economic and industrial development planning, policy formation,
budgetary planning, execution and
control of development of their districts. District-level Chambers of
Commerce or their equivalent
should be encouraged to solicit
funds for development, and support
and help their resident-entrepreneurs unleash their talent and energies under appropriate national and
state oversight. India is not short of
entrepreneurial talent. It is the governing system of India that has
chocked its economic growth.
Mr. Prime Minister, this change
would not be easy because of the
vested political interests in the present governing system. But, strong
national leadership and the “will of
the people” can overcome such hurdles. As US President John F.
Kennedy once said, true leaders do
things not because they are easy but
because they are hard. And they do
it for the larger good of the society.
The current president, Barack
Obama recently called you a “Man
of Action” based on your dynamism
and leadership that you have so ably
demonstrated in the short duration
since taking office. It is only a
leader of your caliber, vision,
courage and fortitude who can create a strong, prosperous, and peaceful India for the future, and deliver
on the promise of your dreams.
Prof. Chandra K. Mittal
The author is Professor of
Biotechnology & Medical Industry
Adviser, and Co-Founder, IndoAmerican Association, Houston.

Lok Sabha records highest
productivity in last five years

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718.821.3182, www.AtlanticDialysis.Com

New Delhi: The Winter
Session of the Parliament that
ended on Tuesday saw the Lok
Sabha recording its highest
productivity in the last five
years, working more than 105
% of its scheduled time.
According to the Parliamentary Affairs
Ministry, the Lok Sabha session saw 105.71
per cent productivity, slightly higher than the
104 per cent in the first Budget Session of the
16th Lok Sabha in July-August.
The reason was the absolute majority the
Modi government enjoys.
In fact, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M.
Venkiah Naidu said: "It was evident that while
the majority in the Lok Sabha was used constructively, the same was used to obstruct legislation in the Rajya Sabha."
The government is in minority in the Upper
House with the NDA having just 59 members
in the 245-strong House.
Productivity is calculated on the basis of

number of hours the House
functions, compared to the
number of scheduled hours.
This stands in sharp contrast
to the performance during the
15th Lok Sabha. The Lower
House, in last Winter Session
of 2013 recorded only 15 per cent productivity, while the Monsoon Session in 2013 had 58
per cent productivity and the Budget Session
was at 49 per cent, according to data compiled
by PRS Legislative Research.
In last five years, the closest the Lower
House came to this performance was in the
Budget Session of 2009 reaching 104 per cent.
This was the first Budget Session after the
UPA government returned to power.
Marred by disruptions this winter session,
the Rajya Sabha was the exact opposite. It
lagged with just 67.18 per cent productivity.
The percentage of questions answered orally
in the lower house is also high at 23 per cent
in this session.

The views expressed in Op Eds are not necessarily those of The South Asian Times.


By Saeed Naqvi

December 27-January 2, 2015


Where have all the flowers gone?

ver since US Deputy Secretary of
State Richard Armitage threatened to
bomb Pakistan to the stone age unless
it joined the post 9/11 global war on terror,
Pakistan has faced an existential tragedy of
choice. It was being called upon to kill the
very mujahideen it had trained to become
hardened Islamic fighters, also at America’s
behest, to help expel the Soviet Union from
Some in the Pakistan Army got into the
drill, led by the Americans, to eliminate the
mujahideen; some did not. The world’s
mightiest power and the world’s only nuclear
Islamic state have been fighting the Al
Qaeda, Taliban, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan
(TTP), one mutating into the other, for the
past 13 years without any conclusion.
Every year, specifically since 2010, the US
threatens to leave Afghanistan but finds itself
unable to. Islamabad and Kabul are both
obliged to fight a continuous war against
their own people. To get even in an asymmetrical war, a faction of the TTP has heaped
such brutality on the families of school children in Peshawar as to leave human beings
everywhere numb and speechless.
Immediately after the carnage in Peshawar,
Pakistan Army chief General Raheel Sharif
and ISI chief Lt. Gen. Rizwan Akhtar flew to
Kabul for an emergency meeting with
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. They also
met NATO commander Gen. John Campbell.
There is no Afghan counterpart to Raheel yet
in harness.
What would they have discussed? Hot pursuit of Maulana Fazlullah, the faction of the


A child attends a protest to condemn Taliban attack on the Army public school in
northwest Pakistan's Peshawar.

TTP allegedly responsible for the massacre?
Can Ghani, who held onto the presidentship
only by the skin of his teeth, oblige? His
political rival and the CEO, Abdullah
Abdullah, has already raised the bar for both
sides. There is no such thing as a good
Taliban as opposed to a bad Taliban, he says.
The implication is to have no talks with
Taliban -- which knocks out the Pakistani
expectation to have a structure in Kabul
which is leavened by Talibani
presence.Remember the spells of Hamid
Karzai and his Pakistani opposite numbers.
When they coordinated action against the
Taliban, Pushtoon nationalism grew in geometrical progression. When the two became

suspicious of each other and relaxed a bit,
Taliban mopped up all the sympathy. That
dynamic has not changed.
Among the numerous flip flops of the
Americans in Afghanistan has been their
inability to have a consistent policy on
Taliban. Initially, the Taliban had to be
destroyed. Then they had to be only weakened. This latter line suited Kabul’s calculations. A weakened Taliban was useful so long
as it expanded horizontally. The Pushtoons in
control in Kabul believed Taliban expansion
was Pushtoon expansion which, in the long
run, was in their interest.
NATO never had a strategy in the region
because it had no policy towards Pakistan.

They knew they could never defeat the
Taliban without hitting hard at their bases in
Pakistan. And that, NATO could not do. And
now, NATO are packing up their bags.
With the emergence of the Islamic
Caliphate of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in Iraq
and Syria, a new dimension has been added
to the TTP narrative. Names of Maulana
Abdul Aziz and his brother Abdul Rashid
Ghazi were media headlines when the
Pakistan Rangers attacked the Lal Masjid in
July 2007, which gave phenomenal boost to
mutual bitterness. The school massacre in
Peshawar is a continuation in that zigzag.
A nuclear Pakistan will invite American
oversight from the Afghan Machaan or watch
towers which will be required for a long time.
On the other front, meanwhile, the bail to
Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi has brought out the
hawks in India on their shrillest howl.
Pakistan, shortsightedly, has decided to
accord a “low priority” in the management of
cross border terrorism in Kashmir. In other
words, it will attend to the Afghan front first.
The outcome is clear as daylight: it will fall
between stools.
There was the hope that after picking up
the trophy in Cuba, Barack Obama may be
eyeing the bigger prize in Tehran. But that
may give heart to the Northern Alliance elements in Afghanistan. Would that not bring
the Pushtoons on both sides of the nonexistent Durand line closer together? Why would
the Americans worry on that count?
As former US ambassador in Kabul,
Zalmay Khalilzad, used to say: There can be
no coherent US game in Afghanistan and Iraq
without Iran being on board. Khalilzad was
the US ambassador to Iraq too.

Sony hacking: Cyber vandalism or cyber terrorism?

By Monish Gulati

s South Asia was watching the terrible tragedy at Peshawar unfold
another drama was coming to head
in Hollywood. At the eye of the storm was
‘The Interview’, a comedy by Sony Pictures
Entertainment that depicts a fictional assassination of North Korea's leader Kim Jongun.
What began with the hacking of Sony
Pictures computer systems at the end of
November escalated when the hackers
threatened 9/11-like attacks against movie
theaters scheduled to show the film that
fanned US-wide security fears and resulted
in the four top US theater chains pulling the
movie from their screens, ultimately causing
Sony to cancel the film's release.
US President Barack Obama has vowed to
respond “proportionally” to what he called
"cyber vandalism" after the Federal Bureau
of Investigation (FBI) blamed North Korea
for it. Addressing his annual end-of-year
news conference at the White House,
Obama said Sony “made a mistake” in canceling the release of the movie and that “We
cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship
here”. North Korea responded stating that it
is not involved in the cyber-attack and US
claims were "groundless slander”.


At the eye of the storm was ‘The Interview’, a Sony film that depicts a fictional
assassination of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un.

On November 24 as workers at Sony
Pictures Entertainment in Culver City,
California, logged on to their computers
they found a screen message saying they
had been hacked by a group calling itself
Guardians of Peace (GoP). The massive
breach resulted in the leak of tens of thousands of documents, including sensitive

emails and personal information.
The hackers have reportedly caused tens
of millions of dollars in damage to Sony
Pictures' computers, destroyed valuable
files, leaked five films, including four of
them yet to be released, and exposed
employee information including 47,000
Social Security numbers.

The views expressed in Op Eds are not necessarily those of The South Asian Times.

Sony had spent about $80 million to make
and market the ‘The Interview'. The cost to
Sony from new software and hardware,
employee labour to clean up the malware,
investigation, lost productivity, and reputational damage, is estimated to be at least
over a $100 million.
The attack was reportedly routed through
servers in Singapore, Thailand and Bolivia.
However, it was concluded that there was no
sign that North Korea worked together with
another country on the cyber-attack. Experts
believe that since North Korea lacks the
capability to infiltrate Sony's computers on
its own, it would have required the assistance of mercenary computer hackers, and
possibly disgruntled Sony insiders.
The possible US options, according to
experts, could include cyber retaliation,
financial sanctions and criminal indictments
against individuals. However, in the case of
North Korea, the US and its allies have
already imposed repeated economic sanctions on the country for its nuclear and missile programs leading to economic hardship
and global isolation.
Information technology innovation, particularly on the internet, has no effective
national, regional or international rules,
while the online dependency has created
vulnerability to malicious interventions and
other digital catastrophes.


December 27-January 2, 2015


Black money leads to black politics in India
Just holding free and fair elections in a peaceful manner does not mean all is well with Indian democracy.
The real issue is how we tackle the underlying problem of political finance - the mother of all sins!
By Dr.



rvind Kejriwal’s recent
short trip to Dubai and the
US gave political parties
like the BJP and the Congress
another chance to bash the new kid
on the block. Notwithstanding the
Delhi High Court’s dismissal of
similar allegations of illegal foreign
funding, the established political
parties have gone ahead and played
the role of the judiciary by terming
the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as
‘guilty’ on the counts of violation
of the Foreign Contribution
Regulation Act (FCRA), and the
Representation of People’s Act.
Compare this with another scenario. A report released by
Association for Democratic
Reforms (ADR) on December 9
states that 29 out of 45 recognized
political parties in India had not
submitted the donation report to the
Election Commission of India
(ECI) till the deadline of Nov. 30,
2014. It further reveals that BJP is
the only single party that has not
submitted list of donors contributing more than 20,000 rupees for the
Interestingly, BSP has declared to
ECI that it did not receive even a
single donation exceeding the sum
of Rs 20,000! According to another
report published by ADR last year,
75% of the funds to major political
parties come from unknown
sources. Also, out of all the known
sources, 87% of the donations come
from the corporate sector.
Above instances raise the important issue of political finance.
World over, democracies - emerging and mature alike – have grappled with the problem of regulating
money in political arena. Money is
a necessary evil for the functioning
of political parties. But unregulated,
undisclosed and opaque political
funding can threaten the very fabric
of democracy and governance.
While a resource-strapped political
party may struggle to make a sufficient public outreach program, the
parties slushed with illicit money
make a merry-go-round! Rather


than respond to aspirations of masses, they tend to cater to the interests
of their financiers.
India - the world’s largest democracy- has its sets of problems. You
do not have to be a student of political science to understand that
India’s polity is infested with 3 Cs:
Corruption, Clientelism and Clan.
Volumes can be written about the
saga of endemic and pernicious
corruption in our country. India
continues to squirm under the pain

Gandhi clan, the syndrome of family rule has literally reduced our federal polity to ‘princely’ states governed by close knit families or their
associates. From Jammu &
Kashmir to Tamil Nadu, the dynastic rule is a recurring theme.
The cocktail of corruption, clientelism and clan results in a perpetual power concentration, creation of
coterie, and elite dominance.
Backed by illicit money, the parties
and leaders do not hesitate to resort

money power, lung power and muscle power.
The solution lies in tackling the
basic malady of money and corruption. We need reforms to bring
about regulations in political
finance and effective implantation.
It goes without saying that open
and transparent funding of political
parties and candidates is of paramount importance to create a
vibrant democracy. Given this,
there is a pressing need to curb the

Despite all the talk from
the BJP and Congress
about how cumbersome
it would be to maintain
the record of every
single donor, Aam
Aadmi Party has shown
that this is feasible, by
maintaining a list of
their donors on their
website and updating
it in real time.
of corruption and unaccountability.
It has resulted in incalculable damage to the nation in terms of economic and social development. The
abysmally high level of graft in
India has resulted in what many
experts call a ‘revolving door’ electoral democracy. The lack of transparency and accountability has also
slowed the process of building up
strong institutions of democracy.
Clientelism manifests in Indian
polity in the form of vote buying,
distribution of money and gifts and
returning favors via jobs, contracts,
licenses and permits and admissions (in academic institutions).
Clientelistic network also puts
women candidates at disadvantage
because of their lack of access to
personal network, thus creating
gender gap.
The phenomenon of clan in
Indian polity is so entrenched that
many of us seem to have accepted it
as our fate. Notwithstanding the
egregious example of Nehru-

to electoral fraud and violence to
maintain power. In extreme cases,
even sham elections happen, further
leading to a dysfunctional democracy.
Thus, it emerges that just holding
free and fair elections in a peaceful
manner does not mean all is well
with our democracy. The real issue
is how we tackle the underlying
problem of political finance - the
mother of all sins!
Funding of political parties and
elections is an important function in
a democracy. What is needed is sufficient amount of funds that comes
from clear channels without any
strings attached. But over the
decades, the influence of money
has grown so significantly that it
has disturbed the level playing field
for political players and alienated
masses from political participation.
Hyperbolic growth in campaign
expenditure has rightly created a
perception that electoral politics
only belongs to those who have

loophole of allowing parties not to
disclose the source of donation if
the amount is less than Rs 20,000.
Internal attitude and behavior of a
political party towards finance also
matters. For example, despite all
the talk from the BJP and Indian
National Congress about how cumbersome it would be to maintain the
record of every single donor, Aam
Aadmi Party has shown that this is
feasible, by maintaining a list of
their donors on their website and
updating it in real time.
Public funding of political parties
and elections is another solution
that looks attractive, albeit it may
have side effects. Various government panels instituted in the past
have taken up the task of coming up
with the recommendations on state
funding. Notable among those are:
Indrajit Gupta Committee (1998),
the 1999 Law Commission of India
Report, National Commission to
Review the Working of the
Constitution 2000, and the Report

The views expressed in Op Eds are not necessarily those of The South Asian Times.

of the second Administrative
Reforms Commission 2007 (Ethics
in Governance). State funding will
reduce the level of corruption and
influence of black money. It will
also cut down the costs of elections
and provide a level playing field to
the political parties.
However, one disadvantage of
funding the parties through public
exchequer is that political parties
tend to become complacent and
may not work hard to maintain their
social base and grass root mobilization for funding.
The government can also encourage small donor public funding to
decrease the influence of wealthy
donors, interest groups and criminal
groups. Under such a schema, the
government would match a political
contribution by a citizen with an
equal amount or even multiple of
that. This will also encourage the
political parties and candidates to
go for micro-donations via crowdsourcing.
As said earlier, internal party
working and its finance behavior
also plays a role when it comes to
political finance. A legislative push
for more democratization of political parties should be made. A case
in point is the need to introduce
concept of primaries to select candidates for election. This will
decrease the incidence of elite representation and dynastic rule within
the parties and pave way for more
openness and transparency in the
functioning of political parties.
Serious efforts to increase the
voter registration and turnout would
certainly help in reducing the role
of the ‘influenced voters’ over the
eventual outcome of the elections.
Giving more powers, particularly
judicial, to the Election
Commission would certainly bring
more discipline to the entire political process. Lastly, in order to bring
the desired traction to the democracy, electoral reforms must be complemented with judicial and economic reforms.
The author is a Chicago-based
socio-political commentator.
Twitter: drmunishraizada

December 27-January 2, 2015

JAN. 2015


December 27-January 2, 2015


'PK' - provocative,
yet gentle and cute
oticed how the word god rhymes with fraud? Tired of
anaemic films in 2014? Then here comes the year-end
heartwarmer about the fraud that's pulled on unsuspecting humanity in the name of that overworked miracle-maker
called god.
"PK" is a film designed to warm the cockles of the heart. And I
use the word 'designed' on purpose, and with emphasis. Many
times you feel that the aura of childlike innocence that emanates
from Aamir Khan's character, is deliberately manipulating our
feelings by questioning the sacred cows and haloed institutions
in that tone we often hear little children adopt in ads for insurance schemes.
Let's straightaway say this. Rajkumar Hirani and Abhijat
Joshi's writing is smooth, skilled and sexy....Quite like what
Katrina Kaif achieved in her "Chikni chameli" item song. You
can see the words being polished, sparkled and flaunted, just like
Katrina's waist line. She gyrated with her hips. Aamir does from
the lips.
In his state of innocence, accentuated by his Dr.Spock ears,
Aamir looks as spaced out as Munnabhai on speed. And that is
not an undesirable thing at all. The film requires the outsider to
be chronically bewildered by all the things that we earthlings
take for granted.
Why do we depend on god-men to take us to god when god is
supposed to be omnipresent? This is not the first time that theological questions have been raised in a satirical film. Umesh
Shukla did it with a lot use a a term from
"PK" does it with a lot more tenderness. In fact, the mood gets
perceptibly treacly specially towards the end when our alien hero
turns all moony-eyed over the television-journalist. He's in love
although he thinks it's 'bhest of time'.
The story moves forward in episodic abundance, not caring
whether it would all finally come together at the end or not. Of
course, it all does. Effortlessly. The plot winds breezily through
episodes like 'PK Meets Bhairav Singh' (cue for Sanjay Dutt to
get all bovine and boisterous as a traditionally-dressed
Rajasthani), 'PK Challenges Godman Tapsavi' (Saurabh Shukla
plays the religious fraud without cheesy overtures).
This could well have been a television serial about an alien
who delivers some down-to-earth homilies. While Aamir owns
most of the narrative as though born to play the alien, the film's
most tightly narrated episode is the Sushant-Anushka Indo-Pak
love story.
And shine, Aamir certainly does, in spite of the exaggerated
Bhojpuri dialect that seems to have been put there to get
applause. And yes, those crimson-red lips look like they've been
designed by lipstick rather than stained by paan.
It tells us, life is beautiful even when it seems to suck.
Provocative and yet gentle, evocative and quite often, heartbreakingly artless, "PK" is just what the healers ordered after the
savagery in Peshawar.


Aamir Khan and Anushka in a scene from the film 'PK'
hey have success, they have a fan following, they
have stardom and yet Bollywood actors are craving
for more. The quest for more led some top-notch
actors to film production in 2014 - for a variety of reasons.
If in the past, the likes of Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir
Khan turned to production business, 2014 saw more A-listers like Priyanka Chopra and Sonakshi Sinha jumping on
to the bandwagon. Priyanka said that she took up the producer's role to "make small movies and introduce
new talent", while for "Dabangg" fame
actress Sonakshi Sinha, it's all about family.
For her maiden production venture
"Madamji", Priyanka has teamed up with
National Award-winning director Madhur
Anushka Sharma, on the other hand, started shooting for her maiden production venture "NH10" early this year. The
action thriller, directed by
Navdeep Singh, revolves
round a road trip that goes
awry. Same was the case
with Abhay Deol’s debut
production "One By
Two". It hit the screens
early this year, but couldn’t impress moviegoers.
But he doesn’t want to
quit. "Iqbal" fame actor
Shreyas Talpade turned


to production in 2008
with Marathi film
" S a n a i
Chougade". He
co-produced it
with Subhash
Ghai’s Mukta
Arts. This
year he went
solo and
film "Poshter
Boyz", which
struck gold at
the box office.
Former beauty queen
Dia Mirza too turned producer in 2011 with "Love Breakups Zindagi", simply
because she fell in love with the industry. When
Saif Ali Khan joined hands with friend
Dinesh Vijan to float Illuminati Films and
produced "Love Aaj Kal" in 2009, he said
that he decided to turn producer because he
wanted to "own the work that is done" and
that he wanted to be more "creatively
involved in a project apart from just acting
in it and take the responsibility".

actors to film

Priyanka Chopra and Sonakshi Sinha
have jumped on to the bandwagon.

FIR lodged against Aamir, Hirani
f Aamir Khan's nude poster wasn't enough to put PK under
the radar, the film has yet again invited the wrath of many for
offending their religious sentiments. Prashant Patel, secretary
of Hindu Legal Cell has apparently lodged an FIR against director Rajkumar Hirani, Aamir Khan, producer Vidhu Vinod
Chopra and Sidharth Roy Kapur.
Reportedly, Patel thinks that makers have portrayed Lord
Shiva in a bad light. It does not stop here, he has further alleged
that there have been disapproving comments on Hindu rituals
that does not go down well with many believers.
Also, the dialogue from the film, 'Jo darta hai vo hi mandir
jaata hai' has been mentioned in the FIR.
But this is not the first time that the film has courted controversy. The film's first poster which showed a nude Aamir Khan protecting his decency with a transistor attracted wrath. An FIR was
lodged against the makers on charges of obscenity.


'Theory of Everything' to open in India in 2015
New Delhi: "Theory of Everything", a biopic on theoretical physicist
professor Stephen Hawking, will hit Indian screens on February 6,
2015. Universal Pictures International India will release the Golden
Globe nominated film across Indian theatres, said a statement.
Starring Eddie Redmayne as Hawking and Felicity Jones, the movie
has received four Golden Globe nominations, including those for Best
Motion Picture - Drama, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion
Picture - Drama, Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture Drama, and the Best Original Score - Motion Picture. "The Theory of
Everything" begins in the 1960s where Cambridge University student
Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) falls in love with fellow collegian Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones). At 21, Hawking learns that he has
motor neuron disease. Despite this -- and with Jane at his side -- he
begins an ambitious study of time, of which he has very little left,
according to his doctor.

'Theory of Everything' is a biopic on
theoretical physicist professor
Stephen Hawking



Sonakshi to turn serious
with Amrita Pritam biopic?

'Liar's Dice'
misses Oscar
ndian filmmaker Geetu Mohandas's "Liar's Dice",
which was India's official entry for the foreign language film category at the Academy Awards, has
not made it to the first phase of the nomination shortlist. "Liar's Dice", which tells the story of a young
mother who takes her daughter in search for her missing husband, was chosen by the Film Federation of
India (FFI) out of among 30 shortlisted movies, to represent the country at prestigious Oscars in the foreign
language film category.
"Liar's Dice" was a part of the 83 films that had originally been considered in the category. But now, it has
failed to make its way into a list of nine feature


December 27-January 2, 2015

A scene from the film 'Liar's Dice'
movies, which will advance to the next round of voting
by the jury for the 87th Academy Awards, according to
an update on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and
Sciences website.
The foreign language film nominations for 2014 are
being determined in two phases. The phase-1 committee, consisting of several hundred local Academy
members, screened the original submissions in the category between mid-October and Dec 15.
The 87th Academy Awards nominations will be
announced live Jan 15, 2015 at the Academy's Samuel
Goldwyn theater.

Sony to make 'The Interview' available in future?
fter Sony Pictures pulled
the plug on the theatrical
release of "The Interview"
recently following threats of major
disruption by hackers, one of the
studio's lawyers is assuring consumers that the movie will be available in the future. "Sony has been
fighting to get this picture distributed. It will be distributed. How it's
going to be distributed, I don't think
anybody knows quite yet. But it's
going to be distributed," Sony
lawyer David Boises said on "Meet
the Press", reports
Reports have indicated that the
movie will be shown online for free
on Crackle, an online streaming
service backed by Sony. The studio,
however, has yet to confirm the
news. Earlier this weekend, the
Facebook page for the Seth Rogen


Sonakshi Sinha

aving gone down
the commercial road
as far as possible,
Sonakshi Sinha, whose latest masala film "Action
Jackson" has received a
mild response, is apparently
set to take the more sober
route with a biopic on eminent author-poet Amrita
The movie is to be directed by debutante Jasmeet
Reen. Sonakshi, known so
far for her bubbly and effervescent characters, is all set

Sony Pictures has pulled the plug on the
release of 'The Interview'
and James Franco comedy was
deleted. The film's Twitter account

is still active, even though all past
tweets have been removed.

to take a serious shot at an
intense and real performance. A source very close to
the actress said: "Though no
formal announcement has
been made Sonakshi is playing Amrita Pritam. She is
very excited about the challenge of playing her first
real-life character."
This won't be Sonakshi's
first realistic character. She
earlier did Vikramaditya
Motwane's "Lootera", for
which she received appreciation.

'I might have been a Punjabi kudi in previous life'

he is from Denmark and lives in the
US, but it does not take much of an
effort to get Anita Lerche to sing 'bhajans' in Hindi, 'shabads' (hymns) in
Punjabi, even popular Bollywood numbers
and other international compositions back-to-back - any time, anywhere. She
says she might have been a "Punjabi kudi"
(girl) in her previous life.
At ease performing in small towns and
religious events in Punjab and elsewhere
in India or recording in top studios in the
US, she quipped "I might have been a
Punjabi kudi in a different life."
Anita, who has released two albums of
Punjabi songs - "Heer from Denmark" and
"Sadke Punjab Ton" - said her first
encounter with Punjabi music and songs in
2005 brought out her inner voice of "this is
where I belong". Born and raised in a

small town, Herlev, on the outskirts of
Copenhagen, Anita had come to India in
2005 with a group of Danish friends.
While the group returned, she stayed back
and was helped in her pursuit of Punjabi
music by the Hoshiarpur-based family of
businessman Anurag Sood.
"It was during a nine-hour journey from
Kullu (in Himachal Pradesh) that I first
heard Punjabi music and songs. I realised
that this was the music that I was looking
for. It touched my heart," Anita, who has
sung in 16 different languages, said.
When she sang her first Punjabi song,
she had already sung in 13 languages from
different parts of the world.
"Before that, I did not even know about
the word Punjabi. I had sung in 13 languages till then, but I never felt the same
love that I felt for Punjabi music and

songs," she said.
Anita says she will always remain
indebted to her guru in India, Rattan Singh
Rajput (who passed away last year), for
teaching her the pronunciation and meaning of Punjabi words.
"I did not want to sing Punjabi songs
without knowing their meaning, pronunciation and feeling them. He (Rajput) was a
very good teacher who helped me learn a
lot," she said.
"Punjab has become my second home
(after Denmark). In the last nine-and-ahalf years, I have lived in Punjab for
almost five-six months every year," said

Anita Lerche sings 'bhajans' in Hindi,
'shabads' (hymns) in Punjabi and even
popular Bollywood numbers.


December 27-January 2, 2015


For 5,000 years divine culture flourished in China. Now, through breathtaking music
and dance, Shen Yun is bringing back this glorious culture.
By Evan Mantyk
here are rare moments in history when
a show, a book, or a piece of art takes
its viewers to a whole new realm.
Boundaries previously thought unmovable,
like those between the stage and the backdrop, are erased and reinvented, never to be
the same.
Watching Shen Yun Performing Arts is witnessing just such a moment. And when Shen
Yun arrives at Lincoln Center in New York in
January 2015 for a 12-show run, its newest
innovations will be on full display. For
alongside its talent-laden cast of dancers and
musicians, Shen Yun’s ingenious animated
backdrops are leaving the entertainment
industry astounded.
“Going to the theater and the movies at the
same time,” is how Robert Stromberg,
Academy Award-winning production designer for the sci fi film ‘Avatar’, described it. “It
was so inspiring, I think I may have found
some new ideas for the next ‘Avatar’.”
What Shen Yun’s projection designs do is
seamlessly synchronize all aspects of the
performance. The costumes’ colors, specific
dance movements, drums, lighting, particular
notes played by the orchestra—are all timed
with animated movements on an enormous
digital backdrop.
In one dance, the Monkey King, a sort of
Buddhist superhero from ancient China,
soars through the air with exquisite dexterity,
gracefully delivering kicks and twirls of his
staff to his enemies. As the enchanting scene


Shen Yun Performing Arts returns to Lincoln Center for 12 shows in January.
Photo: © 2012 Shen Yun Performing Arts.

continues, the Monkey King literally pulls
the moon down from the sky onto the stage.
In several other dances, celestial fairies and
divine beings descend to Earth, magically
transitioning from digital backdrop figures
into flesh and blood on stage. The effect is
like a beautiful painting coming to life.
“It starts off very simple,” said Mike
Hogue, who animated movies from Titan
A.E. to Anastasia and television shows like
George of the Jungle. “Then when you all of
a sudden have these surprises of people coming out of the screen, it’s just, ‘Oh my gosh,
okay, this is something really different, really

An Epic Journey
China is one of the world’s most ancient
civilizations, at about 5,000 years. Its rich
dynastic history, majestic landscapes, and
diverse ethnic groups become destinations
on Shen Yun’s epic journey through time and
space. The backdrop takes you there, from
the snowcapped Himalayan peaks to the subtropical forests of Southwest China; from the
tranquil Yangtze River Delta to the flaming
beacon towers along the winding Great Wall;
and from the boundless Mongolian grasslands to heavenly scenes of gods and deities.
“It creates a unique atmosphere and a
beautiful, colorful world,” said Masahide

Yanagawase, one of Japan’s foremost visualeffects artists. “The unfolding of the plots
and the ways of expressing stories are very
attractive. It’s a precious event.”
As with all aspects of the Shen Yun production, there is a superior level of attention
paid to authenticity. A scholarly discourse on
the company’s website reflects on the details
of the landscapes in the backdrops. “The gardens of Jiangnan are exquisite and enchanting, giving the feeling of meditative seclusion. Indeed, it is a place historically
renowned as a cultural and literary center,” it
reads. “And yet the winding river with small
houses along the banks, seeming to emerge
from an ink-wash painting, creates a charming picture of simple, bucolic river life.” This
accuracy stood out to Avatar’s Stromberg,
who studied Chinese landscapes. “Seeing a
traditional performance with the authentic
dance moves and authentic backgrounds—it
all came together,” he said.
And the effect is mesmerizing. Just as Shen
Yun’s website says: “Here, one can get lost
in thought. Here, time slows down. Why
would you ever want to leave?” Indeed, why
would one want to leave this incredible performance? Only because the usher tells you
that the show is over, and he needs to turn off
the lights.
Shen Yun will be performing at Lincoln
Center’s David H. Koch Theater January 918, 2015. Tickets and information at: The phrase shen yun
means "the beauty of divine beings

Jaipur Jewellery Show
By Prakash Bhandari
Jaipur: Glitz and glamour marked
the grand finale of the 12th edition
of the fantastic -Jaipur Jewellery
Show (JJS) at the newly built
Jaipur Exhibition and Convention
Centre (JECC). The theme of this
year’s show from December 20-23
was rare, red and royal ruby.
Defying the distance from the
city, business people, visitors and
buyers flocked the venue, clocking
the footfall at over 30,000 during
the four-day event. They were
attracted by the glittering panorama of unbelievable creations, and
design innovations.
The show was a grand mix of
traditional as well as modern jewelry. With royal ruby as the theme,
there was a sumptuous offering of
kundan and polki sets, emerald
trails from chokers, rubalites edged
kundan necklaces and diamond
necklaces with emeralds, rubies,
sapphire and amazing pearl based
jewelries. The huge collection of
ruby and diamond studded items
scored, however.

The 12th edition of JJS clocked a footfall of over
30,000 during the four-day event.

The convener of the JJS, Vimal
Chand Surana announced that ruby
would continue to be the theme
for the next JJS to be held
December 19-22, 2015 at the same
Rajiv Jain, JJS secretary, said the
participants defied the so-called
recession and the prestigious show
continues to grow from strength to
strength. He said visitors included
foreign tourists and buyers. JJS
also showcased the artistic creations of Jaipur’s designers and
craftsmen, and this has sort of cre-

ated the arts and crafts movement
in the gems and jewelry industry.
Buyers came from as far as
Mumbai, Kanpur, Lucknow,
Amritsar, Ludhiana, Ahmedabad,
Surat, Chandigarh, Agra, Indore,
Hyderabad and Kolkata. Meetings
gave rise to new business relationships for future dealings.
The visiting jewelers not only
learnt about new trends, but they
were also introduced to the new
semi-precious stones at various
The trend of art jewelry is catch-

Birdhichand Ghanshyamdas’ booth won a prize for
best designed booth.

ing up -- it emphasizes creative
expression and design and is characterized by the use of a variety of
materials. Thus, it counterbalances
the use of "precious materials"
(gold, silver and gemstones) in
conventional or fine jewelry, where
the value of the object is tied to the
value of the materials from which
it is made, said Surana.
Media coordinator Ajay Kala
said that miniature paintings were
given pride of place at the show.
Some with religious themes were
florally ornamented with dia-

monds and colored stones.
In the show Tatiwalas focused on
large pendent studded with diamonds and gemstones with the
miniatures of gods.
Many booths displayed semiprecious stones in various sizes
and shapes. Patsy Bali from Delhi
had come to buy these stones to
use with her apparel collections.
“These stones are used as buttons
and broaches and often as pins.
This gives value addition to my
designs and I always sell these
Continued on page 25


December 27-January 2, 2015


Make in India to be key topic at PBD, 3,000 to attend
New Delhi: The Modi government’s key
programs, including Make in India, would
be highlighted during the Jan 7-9 Pravasi
Bharatiya Divas (PBD) to be held in
Gandhinagar, Gujarat, that is expected to
see around 3,000 Indian diaspora attending.
The 13th annual PBD is being held in
Gandhinagar to mark the centenary of the
return of the “sarva sreshtha pravasi
Bharatiya” or foremost Indian diaspora
member, Mahatma Gandhi to India from
South Africa, said External Affairs
Minister Sushma Swaraj who is also minister for Overseas Indian Affairs.
An exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi and
his contribution to India’s independence
would also be inaugurated besides other
events to mark the centenary of Gandhi’s
return to India.
Foreign Minister of South Africa Maite
Nkoana-Mashabane has also been invited,
but her confirmation is awaited, said
The chief guest of this chapter of PBD
would be Guyana President Donald
PBD is the world’s largest annual gathering of people of Indian origin aimed at
enhancing networking and reinforcing
commercial linkages. There are 25 million
people of Indian origin residing outside
This PBD would be “different” from earlier ones, stressed Swaraj.
This PBD would host some special
events, including a special session for the
diaspora youth and also four special sessions. These are – to deal with the concerns
of diaspora living in the Gulf countries, for
those living in Francophone countries, a
session for countries where the descendants of Indian indentured labor live and
another session to address concerns of the
associations of Indian diaspora, she said.
Gujarat is the partner country for the
event. Ten Indian states, including the nonBJP states of Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and
Nagaland, are participating. The BJP states
are Gujarat, Goa, Madhya Pradesh,
Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Haryana and
Asked if West Bengal Chief Minister
Mamata Banerjee, who is at loggerheads
with the BJP, was invited, Sushma Swaraj
said that she had sent letters of invitation to
all chief ministers, and so far 10 had confirmed they would be attending.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitey and
Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
would be addressing the session between
the 10 chief ministers and NRI businesspersons, she said.
The officials looking after the Make in
India, Swachch Bharat, Skill India, Clean
Ganga projects and Tourism would tell the
attendeees about the schemes and invite

investments from the diaspora.
Sushma Swaraj also denied that the decision to host the event in Gujarat this time
was taken after the new government came
into power.
She said that Prime Minister Narendra
Modi had four years ago, while he was
chief minister of Gujarat, proposed hosting
PBD in Gujarat in 2015 and had written
about it to the then prime minister
Manmohan Singh.
To another question, she said that the
ministry is working to merge the Overseas
Citizenship of India (OCI) cards with the
Person of Indian Origin (PIO) cards and
ensure lifelong visa to the holders.
On a proposal to grant voting rights to
NRIs, Sushma Swaraj said that they are
examining several suggestions, including
having Electronic Voting Machines placed
in embassies during elections, allowing
proxy voting or having the diaspora member to come home to vote.
“There is no decision yet, we are thinking
of a solution,” she said.
To criticism that the PBD events end up
becoming places for the businesspersons to

PBD to host sessions
on Girmitiyas,
Francophone diaspora
New Delhi: The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas
(PBD), the world's largest annual gathering
of people of Indian origin to be held in
Gandhinagar in Gujarat Jan 7-9, will see a
number of 'firsts' this time, including a session devoted to Girmitiyas and on the
Francophone (French-speaking) diaspora.
The PBD, to be held at Mahatma Mandir,
would kick off with the Youth PBD Jan 7
that will have two sessions. The first would
be titled "Bharat ko jano" (Know India),
where the diaspora youth would be told
about India's age old culture, traditions and
hospitality, External Affairs Minister

External Affairs & Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Gujarat
Chief Minister Anandiben Patel addressing a press conference on Dec 22 about the
13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas to take place in Ahmedabad Jan 7-9, 2014. The theme
of this PBD is My India, My Pride.

interact, she said that this time they have
“tried to balance the aam admi and the
businessperson” and cited the special
events being held for the diaspora to
address their concerns.
The Indian ambassadors of six Gulf
countries have been invited to address the
special session on diaspora living in those
The event would kick off Jan 7 with a
Youth PBD where the children of Indian
diaspora would participate and be given an
insight into the culture and heritage of
India as well as its achievements, including
in space and IT.
On Jan 8, Prime Minster Modi would
inaugurate the main session and on Jan 9,
President Pranab Mukherjee would give
away the Pravasi Bharatiya Sammans to 15
eminent Indians living abroad.

Sushma Swaraj said at a special briefing
here. The second session would be titled
"Bharat ko Mano", where the youth would
be told about modern India and its innovations like Mangalyaan or the Mars mission,
about missile technology and expertise in
information technology, said Swaraj who
is also the Overseas Indian Affairs
Minister. The evening outing and dinner
would be with the participation of four
Gujarat universities, with the subjects of
petroleum, law, IT and entrepreneurship.
The visiting diaspora youth would be
divided into four batches and would take
part in interactive sessions with college
students, followed by a cultural evening
and dinner. On the second day, after the
inauguration of the PBD by Prime Minister
Modi, a session would be held on

"Opportunities in India: Thrust on
Important Initiatives".
The government's key schemes like
Namami Ganga (Clean Ganga), Smart
Cities and Urban Planning, Skill
Development and Tourism Development
would be highlighted and investments
sought from the diaspora businesspersons,
she added. There would also be a session
"Achievers of Indian Diaspora", where
diaspora members who have achieved distinction in journalism, law, business etc.
would conduct the session.
On Jan 9, four concurrent sessions would
be held on issues of labor and employment
in Gulf countries, session on Girmitiyas,
session on the Francophone diaspora and
role of the Indian diaspora organizations.
The session on Girmitiyas would see the
participation of Persons of Indian Origin
(PIO) countries where Indian-origin people
- or the descendants of Indian indentured
laborers - live, like Suriname, Mauritius
and Guyana. Such a session was being
held for the first time and would help
address their concerns.
Indian envoys of six countries from the
Gulf region would take part in the session.
The session would help Indian expatriates voice their concerns about labor,
employment etc. The session on the
Francophone diaspora would see members
from Mauritius, Reunion Island and
Guadeloupe among others air their concerns. According to Sushma Swaraj, the
Indian diaspora from the Francophone
countries had a complaint that "no one ever
bothers about us".
According to estimates, six percent of
overseas Indians are Francophone or who
speak French. The fourth session on Indian
diaspora organizations would see representatives of Tamil, Telugu and Punjabi
groups of various countries coming together. Gujarat being the host state would host
the delegates for dinner and a cultural
evening Jan 8 on the banks of the Kankaria
lake in Ahmedabad, and the following day
on the Sabarmati river front in
Ahmedabad. The event would be held in
Gandhinagar to mark the centenary of the
return of Mahatma Gandhi to India from
South Africa.

20 December 27-January 2, 2015

Kerala government agencies to
recruit nurses for Kuwait
Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala
government agencies will recruit
nurses for Kuwait after reports
came that nurses have been cheated by private recruitment firms, a
minister said Friday.
"We have got complaints that
about 500 nurses from Kerala have
been duped by recruitment agencies and are facing hardships. The
recruitment fees for Kuwait is in
range of Rs.1.5 to Rs.20 lakh,"
state Minister for Diaspora K.C.
Joseph told reporters here.
"We have informed the Indian
embassy in Kuwait that two state

government agencies are ready to
do this (recruitment) job at a minimal fee," he said.
The agencies which will carry on
recruitment are the Overseas
Development and Employment
Promotion Consultants and RootsNorka (the agency that looks after
the welfare of the Kerala diaspora).
"These recruitment IS done by
private agencies who have a
license to do it. We will now
approach the central government to
give the two state-owned agencies
the license to conduct the recruitment," said Joseph.

Indians get new passport, visa centers in Saudi Arabia
Riyadh: Outsourcing agency VFS Global will open three new centers in
Saudi Arabia to facilitate better passport, visa and consular services for
Indians, a media report said Monday.
"We are pleased to announce the commencement of our new
passport/visa/consular outsourcing services from Jan 1, 2015," the Indian
Consulate in Jeddah said in a press release Sunday.
"The new arrangement aims to provide better services to the Indian
diaspora living under the jurisdiction of the consulate."
The three centers will come up in Jeddah, Abha and Tabuk and will be
well equipped to deal with all kinds of passport, visa and consular attestation services. "The addresses of these centers would soon be available on
the consulate's website and Facebook page," said the consulate statement.


Abu Dhabi-based Lulu group plans
Rs 2,500 crore investments in Telangana
Hyderabad: Abu Dhabi-based
Lulu Group, a leading retail chain
in the Middle East, plans to invest
Rs 2,500 crore in Telangana in
next one year, the state government said.
The Group's Chairman, Yusuff
Ali M A, said this when a delegation of Telangana government,
represented by IT Minister K T
Rama Rao and Industries
Commissioner Jayesh Ranjan,
called on him, a state government
release said here. The Group wishes to invest in three projects in
Telangana - a fruit and vegetable
processing unit, an integrated meat
processing unit and a modern
shopping mall in Hyderabad, it
A team from the Group will visit
Hyderabad in first half of next
month with detailed project
reports and seek the government's
assistance in identifying suitable
land for the projects along with
help in obtaining various
approvals. The Group has over
100 hypermarkets in the Middle
East and has an annual turnover of

The Old War Office Building
was once the hub of British
war time PM Winston Churchill

over $5 billion, it said.
Rama Rao, Special Chief
Secretary for Industries K Pradeep
Chandra and Ranjan, along with a
delegation from FICCI, visited
Smart City, Dubai and interacted
with its chief executive Abdullatif
AlMulla and managing director
Baju George.
During the interaction, the possibility of developing a Smart City
in Hyderabad, as a part of

Investment Region (ITIR)', was
AlMulla expressed his happiness
at this offer and has decided to
visit Hyderabad within next one
week for follow up discussions,
the state government said.
Smart City in Dubai is an integrated development featuring
offices for IT companies along
with residential and commercial
development, all with a number of
features that enable the people
who work and live there to have a
high quality of life using various
technology solutions.
Smart City, Dubai has been successfully replicated at Malta in
In India, the Kerala government
has entered into a partnership with
Smart City, Dubai for developing a
similar model spread over 250
acres in Kochi.
Smart City, Dubai will be investing Rs 4,000 crore over a period of
next eight years in Kochi, according to a Telangana government

ITEC Day celebrated in Moscow
Moscow: To mark the 50th
Anniversary of the commencement of Indian Technical and
Economic Cooperation (ITEC)
program of Government of India,
the Embassy of India in Moscow
celebrated ITEC Day on
December 16 at DP Dhar Hall.
ITEC participants and ICCR students from Russia, representatives
from Russian government, journalists and other friends of India
participated in the celebration.
On this Occasion, Ambassador
Raghavan said that Government of
India offers a wide range of courses in capacity-building and educational institutions. Its popularity
has been growing in Russia. Over
1000 scholars from diverse backgrounds across Russia have
availed of ITEC training opportunities in various fields since 1993.
ITEC participants and ICCR
scholars from Russia are a valuable resource for India-Russia
people-to-people understanding.

Ambassador Raghavan seen with some of the guests

A cultural performance of Indian
contemporary and folk dances by
students of Jawaharlal Nehru
Cultural Centre formed part of the
celebration. A documentary film
by the Ministry of External Affairs
to mark the 50th anniversary of
ITEC program was also shown.
The ITEC program forms an
important part of India-Russia
bilateral relations. Government of
India sponsors short-term techni-

cal training courses for Russian
nationals in premier Indian educational and training institutions, in
areas such as English language, IT
skills, human resources management, banking & finance and
The ITEC program links India
with over 160 countries in sharing
of experiences and capacity-building in diverse economic, political
and social disciplines.

Paris based Indian
author Shumona Sinha
awarded the
prestigious Académie
Française medal for the
promotion of French
language. The medal


Path cleared for allocation of coal blocks
New Delhi: The cabinet has
approved an ordinance for the
allocation of coal blocks, as well
as the rules for their e-auction,
thus launching the process in
respect of 204 mines that were
previously canceled by the
Supreme Court.
"The coal allocations ordinance
passed in the Lok Sabha, on which
discussions was not allowed in the
Rajya Sabha due to disruptions,
was repromulgated today,"
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told
reporters here after a meeting of
the cabinet which also approved a
hike in the foreign equity cap in
the insurance sector.
With this repromulgation, the
unfinished process of coal block
allocations can begin again," he
With the cabinet approval of the
guidelines for e-auction of the
blocks, the government has started
the process of allocating 41 coal
blocks. The tender documents for
the auction will be released
"Twenty four blocks are being
put up for auction in the first
stage. The process will benifit the
common man. Power tariff will
not go up, I assure you, because in
this case it will be reverse bidding,
and tariffs will come down," Coal

The auctions are to be held between Feb 14-22, 2015.

and Power Minister Piyush Goel
said. Seventeen blocks are to be
given by the allotment route. The
regulated power sector will have
reverse bidding with state miner
Coal India's price providing the
upper limit a’d the bidder with the
lowest bid will be declared the
Elaborating on the auction
methodology, Coal Secretary Anil
Swarup said that for the unregulated end-use sectors like steel and
cement the highest bidder will win
the blocks. While the floor price
will be decided based on the for-

mula for determining net intrinsic
value of each block, it cannot go
below a predetermined Rs.150 per
The whole process will be conducted electronically and a web
portal where prospective bidders
can register themselves will go
online, Swarup added.
The auctions are to held between
between Feb 14-22 next year and
the execution of documents is to
be completed by March 31.
The states to benefit most will
be Jhrakhand, West Bengal, Orissa
and Chhttisgarh.

December 27-January 2, 2015


'India to overtake US in
smartphones by 2016'
India will overtake the US as
largest market
for smartphones
in the world by
2016 as smart
mobile devices
become affordable,
research firm
eMarketer said.
"India will
exceed 200 million smartphone
users, topping
the US as the
world's second largest smartphone market by 2016 due to
increasing penetration of affordable smart mobile devices in the
country," the US-based research
firm said in a report.
By this year-end, China will
have 519.7 million smartphone
users, followed by the US at
165.3 million, India with 123.3
million, Japan with 50.8 million

and Russia with
49 million.
Russia will,
however, surpass
Japan as the
fourth largest
smartphone user
population in
2015 and the US
will surpass 200
million smartphone users by
2017, accounting
for 65 percent of
its population.
"China will
continue to lead
the world rankings in 2016 with 624.7 million
smartphone, followed by India
(204.1 million), the US (198.5
million), Russia (65.1 million)
and Japan (61.2 million)," the
report said.
Globally, there will be 1.91 billion smartphone users in 2015
and increase by 12.6 percent the
following year to touch 2.16 billion in 2016.

Insurance industry happy

on ordinance decision
Chennai: Indian insurance
industry officials expressed their
happiness at the government's
decision to come out with an
ordinance hiking the cap on foreign direct investment (FDI)
limit to 49 percent from the current 26 percent.
"Looking back at the various
attempts made to increase the
FDI limit in the past, this is a
great development for the industry," V.Manickam, secretary general, Life Insurance Council of
India said.
"Having come up to this level,
we hope the government will
take this to its logical conclusion-ratification of the ordinance

by the Parliament within the stipulated time frame," he added.
The union cabinet decided in
favor of ordinances for holding
auctions for coal blocks and to
hike the FDI cap in the insurance
sector as the relevant laws could
not be passed in the Rajya
"The approval on the much
awaited Insurance Bill which
increases the cap of foreign
investors from 26 percent to 49
percent is likely to bring another
wave of growth in the insurance
industry," Anoop Pabby,
Managing Director and CEO,
DHFL Pramerica Life Insurance
said in a statement.

Bengaluru: India's leading eretailer Flipkart announced raising
$700 million (Rs. 4,435 crore)
from new institutional and retail
investors to fund its growth and
expansion plans.
"The funds will be used for longterm strategic investments, to build
a technology firm and deliver superior customer experience," the ecommerce major said in a statement here.
The new investors are Baillie
Gifford, Greenoaks Capital,
Steadview Capital, T Rowe Price
Associates and Qatar Investment
"Existing investors DST Global,
GIC, ICONIQ Capital and Tiger
Global participated in our latest
financing round," the company
It also filed a notification with
the Singapore market regulator
ACRA for its conversion into a

The company raised $1 billion in July from a group of
investors for funding its growth plans.

public company as it was registered in the island state in 2007.
"The filing ensures we are in
compliance with the Singapore
laws and is not indicative of an
upcoming IPO (initial public offering) or corporate activity," it said.
Showcasing about 20 million

products across 70 categories,
including books, media, consumer
electronics and lifestyle, Flipkart
has a whopping 26 million registered users, receives a record eight
million hits daily on its portal and
delivers five million shipments per


December 27-January 2, 2015


Pak united on anti-terror fight,
divided on military courts

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime
Minister Nawaz Sharif said that the
time has come to take “extraordinary measures” to crush terrorism
in the country even as political parties remained divided over the
issue of military courts for swift
disposal of terrorism cases.
This came even as a court in
Pakistan upheld the death penalty
for five convicted terrorists.
Addressing a session of the
national parliamentary leaders
here, the prime minister said he
was pleased with the fact that all
the leaders were on the same page
concerning the Dec 16 carnage in
an army-run school in Peshawar,
Geo TV reported.
"The way children were brutally
killed... I don't think there is any
precedent in this country, or in the
world. This is an extraordinary situation in the country which warrants extraordinary measures,"
Sharif said in the meeting held in
the wake of the Dec 16 Taliban
attack on the Army Public School
in Peshawar that left over 140 students and teachers dead.
"Terrorism is a cancer-like disease and history will never forgive

Pakistan to detain over 6,000
terror suspects

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

us if it is not treated now. The
responsibility rests on all of us, and
we have to take tough decisions
against those who want to rip the
country apart, those who are killing
innocent children and have no
mercy in their hearts," he added.
However, political parties attending the parliamentary meeting
were divided over the formation of
military courts in the country to
deal with terrorism cases, one of
the key points in the country's proposed anti-terror plan.

Modi govt softens
stance on Bangladesh
border disputes
Dhaka: The Indian leadership apparently has softened its stance towards Bangladesh on its longrunning border disputes though there was a credibility deficiency in the past.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s parliamentary advisor Shuranjit Sengupta expressed
optimism when his attention was drawn to a press
report from New Delhi that the Land Boundary
Agreement(LBA) would not be passed by the winter session of the Indian Parliament.
“I firmly believe that the LBA agreement would
be settled this time,” Sengupta said.
“So what if the bill is not passed by the current
session? We had waited almost four decades for
ratification of the bill. We will wait for one or two
sessions of Indian parliament. I believe the
Narendra Modi government would settle the dispute.” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met
Sheikh Hasina twice in recent months - first in
New York and then in Nepal. During their meetings on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly
and SAARC summit, Modi assured Hasina that the
LBA and the Teesta water sharing issues would
soon be resolved.
Sengupta, who is also a member of the ruling
Awami League(AL) advisory council, said now
new realities have arisen to get the positive attitude
of the Indian government towards passing the bill,
thereby strengthening bilateral relations.

While the Pakistan Tehreek-eInsaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim
League-Q (PML-Q) and Qwami
Watan Party (QWP) extended support to military courts, the
Muttahida Qaumi Movement
(MQM), Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and
the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam- Fazl
(JUI-F) raised objections to the
idea of such courts.
PTI chairman Imran Khan supported the formation of more military courts stressing that the entire
nation was ready for the elimina-

Islamabad: Pakistan's interior
ministry has decided to detain
over 6,000 terror suspects from
across the country after a list
naming them was prepared, a
media report said. The ministry
has issued orders to all the four
provinces and the Islamabad
administration for taking into
custody 6,777 suspects, a major-

ity of them belonging to banned
outfits, Geo News reported.
The suspects are likely to be
taken into protective custody.
According to the list, out of
the 6,777 suspects, 1,000 belong
to Sindh, more than 4,000 from
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 338 from
Balochistan, 1,416 from Punjab
and 23 from Islamabad.

tion of terrorism. PML-Q leader
Mushahid Hussain Syed said terrorists could immediately be sentenced with the formation of military courts. He added even the US
took the same step to gain success
against terrorism.
QWP leader Aftab Sherpao said
extraordinary measures were
required in these times, emphasising that the country's military and
civilian leadership was ready to
fight terrorism.
But the MQM said that it was

better to apply martial law instead
of forming military courts.
“It's better to apply martial law in
the country rather than forming
military courts, which is undemocratic. So far, martial law has come
into force 100 times. So, one more
time won't be a big deal,” MQM
chief Altaf Hussain told reporters
in a telephonic press conference
from Britain Wednesday evening.
Meanwhile, the Awami National
Party (ANP) has sought more time
on the matter.

Post-tsunami: A decade later, orphaned children move on
Chennai: Twenty-three girls who landed in
a Tamil Nadu orphanage after losing one or
both parents in the tsunami tragedy 10
years ago have moved on with their lives with dreams of becoming an IAS officer or
getting hitched.
Their lives changed forever after the
tragedy on the morning of Dec 26, 2004.
But students living in the Annai Sathya
Government Orphanage in Nagapattinam
district, 325 km from here, have chosen to
look forward.
They cheerfully talk about their studies,
career goals and interests.
"I want to become an IAS officer and
that is why I am studying B.A. in history,"
Gomathi said.
Over the years, they have become close
to the hostel warden. For them, the warden
is their mother and friend.
"We want to go back to the beach. We do
not fear the sea now," Abhirami, a first year
student of B.A. in English Literature, said.
"I chose the course as suggested by our
mother (warden Mahalakshmi)," Abhirami
"I like English and Maths subjects and do
not like Social Science subject. I like to
play carrom and watch actor Vijay's
movies," Meena studying in Class 8 said.
The tsunami wounds have healed. The
girls are now looking ahead," Mahalakshmi
She said most of the girls who had come
to the orphanage a decade ago are now

Over 230,000 were killed by the tsunami in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India,
Thailand and the Maldives.

married. "Their surviving parents or other
relatives wanted them to settle down in
life," Mahalakshmi added.
"Earlier the tsunami children (as they are
called), used to have a forlorn look. But
now things have changed...," Angalammal,
the other warden at the hostel, told IANS.
They were brought to the home by a government official who found them as three
to four-year-olds, crying alone after the
tsunami wave.
Barring two girls at the orphanage Meena, 14, and Sowmya, 15, - all other

girls have relatives - mother or a father,
brother(s), sisters and others.
Over 100 children were brought to the
orphanage after the tragedy stuck, but
many of them have left the campus after
completing their studies.
The tsunami, triggered by an undersea
quake off the island of Sumatra, Indonesia,
hit the Tamil Nadu coast killing around
8,000 people in Nagapattinam, Cuddalore,
Chennai and Kanyakumari.
Around 6,100 lives were lost in
Nagapattinam district alone.


December 27-January 2, 2015


Obama lauds theaters' decision to screen Sony film
Washington: President Barack
Obama has applauded Sony
Pictures' decision to authorize the
screening of "The Interview" -- a
film satirizing North Korean
leader Kim Jong-un -- in independent theaters, the White House
"As the President made clear,
we are a country that believes in
free speech, and the right of artistic expression," White House
spokesman Eric Schultz said.
"The decision made by Sony
Pictures and participating theaters
allows people to make their own
choices about the film, and we
welcome that outcome," the
spokesman said.
The screening of the film in the
US, scheduled for Dec 25, was
canceled after Sony was targeted
with a hacking attack, which the
US administration attributes to

Atlanta, Georgia's Plaza Theater started showing "The
Interview" from Christmas Day, a handful in the nation
to show the controversial film.

North Korea, and the cyberpirates subsequently threatened to
cause panic at movie theatres

showing the film. At least two
announced that they will show

"The Interview".
Atlanta's Plaza Theater and The
Alamo Draft house in Dallas are
going to show the film on
Christmas Day, the owners of
those theaters announced.
Sony confirmed that it will
authorize those theaters to show
the film, a comedy with Seth
Rogen and James Franco about a
fictitious US plot to assassinate
North Korean leader Kim Jongun, something that the Pyongyang
government had called an "act of
"We have never given up on
releasing 'The Interview,'," said
Sony Entertainment CEO Michael
Lynton. "While we hope this is
only the first step of the film's
release, we are proud to make it
available to the public and to have
stood up to those who attempted
to suppress free speech."

Earlier, Tim League, the owner
of The Alamo Drafthouse, wrote
on Twitter that Sony had authorised the showing of "The
Interview" on Christmas Day, and
said that tickets would go on sale
James Wallace, the creative
manager for Dallas theatre, also
said the film will be shown there
and that the tickets were being
made available to the public.
In the Nov 24 cyber-attack, the
hackers stole, among other data,
Social Security numbers and medical records of over 3,000 of the
Sony's employees.
In addition, the cyber-pirates -calling themselves the "Guardians
of Peace" -- stole five new feature
length films from Sony, one of
Hollywood's largest film studios,
and leaked them on the internet
prior to their scheduled releases.

Cuba celebrates first Christmas 'Cuba's sovereignty beyond negotiation with the US'
Eve after reconciliation with US
New Delhi: Cuba's sovereignty is
not up for negotiation with the US,
Cuban ambassador to India
Abelardo Rafael Cueto Sosa said
here.In view of US president
Barack Obama's recent move to
warm up towards Cuba, the ambassador, in an interaction with
reporters at the Indian Women's
Press Corps, said "we are not enemies of the US" but minced no
words to quickly add that "everything is negotiable but our independence and principles".
As a result of secret talks
between the two countries that
went on for over 18 months,
Obama last week sought to defang
the 54-year-old American trade
embargo on a country kept at bay
for its ideological proximity with
Russia since the cold war era.
The order intends to restore

Christmas Eve is overshadowed among Cubans by the
yearend festivities Dec 31

Havana: People in Cuba celebrated the first Christmas Eve
after their government agreed to
reconciliation with the US.
Without lavish Christmas decorations on the streets and with
the initial euphoria accompanying the announcement now quite
Just a week after the historic
announcement of the normalization of relations between
Washington and Havana, ties
that have been broken since
1961, Cubans have got used to
the situation and are facing it
with caution and care, feelings
that have replaced their initial
"We'll see what happens. Here
we've seen nothing new. We
don't know anything and things
are the same," Dayani, a Havana
resident said.

Yoandry, meanwhile, a taxi
driver wearing a Santa Claus
hat, one of the few Christmas
symbols seen around Havana,
said that news of the agreement
with the US is "very good," but
people will have to wait to see
"what the plan" of President
Barack Obama and the Cuban
government in this new situation.
Christmas Eve is overshadowed among Cubans by the
yearend festivities Dec 31
although many of them get
together with their families for
dinner on the night before
New Year's Day coincides
with the triumph of the 1959
revolution led by Fidel Castro,
who still has not commented
publicly on the new course of
relations with the US.

US terms joint probe with
North Korea 'absurd'
United Nations: The US has termed
as "absurd" North Korea's proposal
to jointly investigate the cyberattack on Sony Pictures since
Washington believes Pyongyang
was behind the attack. US
Ambassador to the UN Samantha
Power, during a Security Council
debate on the human rights situation
in North Korea, attacked the regime
for the hacking incident. "Not content with denying freedom of
expression to its own people, the
North Korean regime now seems
intent on suppressing the exercise of
this fundamental freedom in our
nation," she said. "North Korea also
threatened the United States with
'serious consequences' if our country
did not conduct a joint investigation
with (the North Koreans) into an
attack that they carried out. This is
absurd," she added.

Cuban ambassador to India
Abelardo Rafael Cueto Sosa

diplomatic ties with Cuba that
would lift restrictions on travel,
commerce and financial activities.
However, it won't wash in the US
Congress where the Republicans,
who will be in majority both in

Senate and the House of
Representatives, next year, have
pledged resisting lifting the embargo. The order has a limited scope,
said the ambassador, as the trade
embargo remains "intact". "There
has been no talk about lifting the
The ambassador made it plain
that in case the embargo was ever
removed "Cuban independence
would not be negotiated. They (the
US companies) can come and build
hotels in our country. But the land
remains ours."
In effect, the move to restore
diplomatic ties would escalate people to people contact. Cuban
Americans would be able to enter
their country of origin, and tourists
on either side would now be able to
travel and there would be an ease in
bilateral ties among diplomats.

'IS atrocities displace over
two million Iraqis'
Baghdad: Over two million people
in Iraq have been displaced internally as a result of atrocities committed by Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, the International
Organization of Migration (IOM)
has said.
An estimated 2,086,356 Iraqis
have been displaced in the crisis-hit
country from the beginning of
January 2014 to Dec 9, 2014,
according to an IOM statement.
The report further notes that the
Iraqi people have been dispersed
across 2,049 distinct locations in
the country.A similar report by the
same organization in October
showed that an estimated 1,814,862
people (302,477 families) had been
displaced in the strife-torm Middle
Eastern country. The report had

covered internal displacement from
January 2014 to Oct 5, 2014.
The report also indicated that
Nineveh and Anbar provinces of
Iraq had the largest displaced population with 147,875 and 83,979
families respectively. The two
provinces are the areas most affected by the current crisis in Iraq.
The IOM report in October had
further revealed that heavy fighting
in the city of Hit in Iraq's restive
western province of Al Anbar had
forced over 3,708 families to flee.
It additionally suggested that Iraq's
Kurdistan region houses 142,380
displaced families.
IS terrorists operating in Iraq
have committed many atrocities
targeting civilians, compelling
them to flee their homes.



December 27-January 2, 2015

India lost two Tests they should not have
By Veturi Srivatsa
nother Test is behind India, leaving a lot of ifs and buts. Skipper
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is right it
doesn’t matter how close you were to
winning - what matters is the end result.
India were beaten by four wickets to go
down 0-2 in the four-match series.
Looking at the Australia’s scorecard in
the second innings, losing six wickets to
get to the target of 128 might make fans
wonder what would have happened if
India had scored another 50 or 100 runs.
Then the Australians would have found
their tail wagging as it did in the first
innings to take their side to cross the line.
This business of the team being young
and inexperienced or some players being
at the end of their careers is unacceptable
once they are selected to do a job. In
2011, it was said the seniors had little
motivation as they were on their last tour
Down Under. Now the side is raw, the
average age being 26-27. By the time
they again go to Australia four years
down the line, they will be into their 30s
and by Indian standards will be too old
unless one is a Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul
Dravid or a V.V.S. Laxman with loads of
If anyone thought the series would be
very close and even that even India can
win, it is only because the Australians do
not have a team that looks as good as any
of their predecessors. In both the Tests,
India appeared to have thrown it away
from positions of strength.

Watson faces fitness
test after being struck
by bouncer


India should set out to make amends for the two losses.

If it is any consolation, the Indians had
more than their moments in both the
Adelaide and Brisbane Tests. But then,
this is not the first time they looked good
to win. It happened in South Africa and it
also happened in New Zealand when
Brendon McCullum was allowed to score
double and triple centuries in the two
Tests. That the triple century came when
his team was 84 for five and went on to
post 680 runs to deny India a massive victory.
Similarly, in England, India began the
series well, scoring 400 in the first

Yuvraj, Gambhir dropped
from BCCI contract list
Mumbai: A
few weeks after
they were left
out of the 30member preliminary squad for
the 2015 World
Cup, Gautam
Gambhir and
Yuvraj Singh
were Monday
dropped from
the Board of
Control for Cricket in India
(BCCI) contracts list while medium pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar
was promoted to a Grade A contract. Pacer Mohammed Shami,
Ambati Rayudu and Ajinkya
Rahane have been promoted from
Grade C to Grade B, while
Gambhir, Yuvraj, Dinesh Karthik
and Jaydev Unadkat have been
struck off the contracts list.
Both Yuvraj and Gambhir were
part of Grade A contracts last season. Several players who did not
have a contract last season have
been absorbed in Grade C this
time around, including Varun
Aaron, Stuart Binny, Pankaj

Singh, Dhawal Kulkarni, Parvez
Rasool, Axar Patel, Robin
Uthappa, Manoj Tiwari, Karn
Sharma, Sanju Samson, Kuldeep
Yadav and K L Rahul.
Pragyan Ojha, Ishant Sharma, M
Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Umesh
Yadav, Cheteshwar Pujara,
Ravindra Jadeja and Rohit Sharma
have been kept back in Grade B,
while Amit Mishra, Wriddhiman
Saha, Vinay Kumar and Mohit
Sharma remained in Grade C.
BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel
said in a release that players who
do not have contracts but feature
for India in any of the three formats would be given a Grade C
contract once they debut.

innings at Nottingham and close to another 400 in the second in the drawn Test and
then won the second Test at Lord’s. After
that the usual sob story. The team was
So, it is not that the Indians cannot bowl
or bat on overseas pitches, it is just that
they can't sustain this for the entire series.
It is understandable you can miss out in
two-Test series as they did in South
Africa and New Zealand, but not in a four
or five-Test series after making decent
starts and even looking like winning.
India should set out to make amends for

Melbourne: Selector Mark Waugh has
said Shane Watson faces a fitness test
for the third Test against India, starting
Friday, after the all-rounder was struck
on the helmet in the Melbourne Cricket
Ground (MCG) nets here.
According to Cricket Australia (CA)
website, Watson was floored by a
bouncer from young pacer James
Pattinson during training and appeared
to be distressed as he left the session
early in the company of team doctor
Peter Brukner. Watson skipped the
team's public appearance at Cricket
Australia's Family Day at the MCG,
returning to his hotel room where he was
said to be "off colour", according to
National Selection Panel member Mark
Waugh. Vice-captain Brad Haddin said
that Watson was "shaken, but OK" after
the blow, but Waugh revealed that the
33-year-old would have to undergo a fitness test before being cleared to play in
Boxing Day Test.
the two losses which they should not have
with a little care and application. They
should go to Melbourne with the knowledge that they can take on this team. And
they should.

ISL gives Indian football a re-launch pad
New Delhi: Football in India will
never be the same again and Indian
Super League (ISL) can take all
plaudits for this monumental
change in the country's sporting
The inaugural ISL - a tournament
borrowing on cricket's incredibly
popular Indian Premier League
(IPL) concept - has managed to
recapture the imagination of football fans and effected a dramatic
turnround in it, shattering old
Football had largely become a
'sofa sport' in India -- fans sitting at
home watching and debating about
European leagues rather than going
out to watch Indian players.
ISL, however, managed to turn
these couch potatoes into stadium
goers and this was clear from the
average attendance of the tournament being the fourth highest of all
leagues in the world.
The average match attendance for
the tournament since its commencement Oct 12 is 24,357, the highest
across Asia, and according to the
organisers the league trailed only
Germany's Bundesliga, the Barclays
Premier League and Spain's La
Liga. The tournament kicked off
with 65,000 people attending the

Atletico De Kolkata won the inaugural Indian Super League.

opening game between Atletico de
Kolkata and Mumbai City FC Oct
12. Only in its nascent stage, the
football league definitely has had its
fair share of issues but when a
country, which is ranked 170th in
the world, has a league that has an
attendance more than the Italian
Serie A and French Ligue 1, there is
little you can fault ISL with.
The league also recorded over 16
million online video views through
the course of the tournament.
Additionally, the official ISL online
channel registered 28.7 million visits. On social media too, the ISL

captured the minds of football fans,
recording over 1.8 million conversations, 10 billion impressions and
275,000-plus unique authors.
ISL's football semi-final clash
between Chennaiyin FC and Kerala
Blasters FC recorded the highest
number of online video views - 1.1
million - ever witnessed in India for
any single sport game.
These numbers indicate that football has managed to create a huge
fan following across India and is a
step closer towards its ultimate goal
of placing India on the global football map.


December 27-January 2, 2015

Continued from page 18
creations at a premium,” said Bali.
In one booth a fossil stone was given
creative shape with the use of artistically
cut amunite, a semi precious stone.
Also could be seen large canvases of
gods and goddesses ornamented using zirconium, the artificial diamond, in various
colors. For the animal lovers, there were
birds and horses studded in stones.
The ancient Jaipur art of Munnawat
(carving in gemstones) was seen in ruby.
Four booths which stood out received
the Best Designed Booth Award. In 18 sq.
m category, the first prize went to Jewel
Saga and second to Haritsons. For larger
booths, the first prize went to Birdhichand
Ghanshyamdas and second to MB Sons.
The show was spread out over such a
large area, that according to Alok
Kotahwala, who is a manufacturer of
jewelry with office in New York, said that
it could be compared to any of the international shows.
The show was inaugurated by Siddharth
Singh, Director General of Supplies and

Selected designer jewelry and craft pieces from Jaipur Jewellery Show.

Disposal in the Indian Ministry of
Commerce, in the presence of the
Chairman of the Gem & Jewellery Export
Promotion Council (GJEPC) Vipul Shah
and former Chairman Rajiv Jain and
international brand Swarowski’s Vice
President of Asia operation, Kurt Zbinden.
Siddharth Singh said the Modi government would offering all the facilities and
incentives to the gems and jewellery
industry of the Pink City to enable it to

increase its export volume manifold.
Vipul Shah said that the gems and jewellery industry of Jaipur enjoys a niche
position and the city has adapted itself to
the changes in trends suitably and it
could compete with the best in terms of
Siddharth Singh said the commerce ministry is committed to support the first of its
kind gem bourse in the city by a liberal
grant of Rs 45 crore. He said the gems and


jewelry export has shown a healthy
growth of 44 % despite the luxury tag. He
suggested that each state should have its
export strategy and Rajasthan should take
the benefit of the various incentive
schemes like the market assistance
incentives offered by the commerce
Rajiv Jain informed that the dream of a
bourse could be fulfilled soon and the land
of 55,000 m has been identified on Tonk
Road. The project is pending with the
state government. Jain said the bourse
would pave the way for setting up a stateof-the art gems and jewellery hub in
Vipul Shah said that with the improvement in the US economy, the exports of
both diamond and gold jewellery would
grow. He said the GJEPC council, after
China, Russia and Middle East, is now
looking at Latin America and soon it will
have a buyer-seller interaction in Panama
which is known as the gateway to Latin
America. He said in time, the industry
hopes to increase its export from the current $45 billion.

GIA’s grading builds confidence, spurs jewelry sales
By Prakash Bhandari
Jaipur: Gems and jewelry is an
expanding market in India and
the consumers are also increasingly getting educated in graded
diamonds and colored stones. In
turn, they are demanding grading
reports to get their value for
In today’s competitive market,
the retailers assure the customer
by offering Gemmological
Institute of America (GIA) certificate which is a document of
integrity and accuracy.
For over 80 years, the GIA has
been one of the world’s most
respected institutes in the gems
and jewelry industry that offer not
only certifications, but also provide education. Headquartered in
California, it has a chapter in
Mumbai, India
The GIA’s presence in India has

helped the industry in scientific
training and it has helped the consumers to get the grading.
“The consumers today look to
get the best value for their investment and we in GIA build consumer’s trust and confidence. We
define quality of diamonds and

gemstones and educate the customer on what they are buying.
We do not grade jewelry items,
but diamonds and gemstones that
are used in making jewelry. The
gradation certificates are issued
after rigorous tests to determine
that the object is natural or not

and also disclose any treatment
that was used to enhance the quality of diamond and gemstones.
Our report of grading, classification, inscription sealing and
report verification for diamonds,
colored stones and pearls is
authentic and accepted at all levels. This is our credibility,” said
Nirupa Pandya Bhatt, MD of GIA
- India and Middle East. She was
in Jaipur to attend the 12th edition
of the Jaipur Jewellery Show.
Pandya Bhatt said that world
over graded diamonds and gemstones are bought with confidence and 80 percent of net selling is of graded stuff only. The
grading works as a catalyst
between the buyer and seller and
ever since the grading system was
made available in India, the sales
have gone up.
Grading builds confidence and
this scientific back up marries art

with science.
“Now the customer wanting to
buy large sized diamonds and
solitaires asks for grades. This has
not come as a deterrent, but as a
helpful tool to increase the sales.
Shops and establishments selling
graded products have more sales
than others. This is the ay diamonds and gemstones would be
sold in future,” added Bhatt.
She said that the GIA also provides education in diamonds,
gemstones, pearls to jewelry
design merchandizing and retail
sales. There are both long term
and short term courses offered.
She said there are 4C’s in a
diamond: Carat weight, Clarity,
Colour and Cut. The clarity and
color are the natural component
of a diamond or colored stone and
the GIA issues its gradation certificate after doing the “pathological analysis”.

Delhi in top spot as e-commerce hub: Survey
New Delhi: Delhi rated as the number one e-commerce hub with the
maximum amount of mobile phones
and accessories sold, says a report
released by online company ebay
eBay India released the eBay
India Census 2014 that documents
trends in online buying, selling and
exporting across 28 states and seven
Union Territories in the country and

export trends in 206 countries
across the globe, said a statement.
Some of the key trends revealed
in the eBay India Census 2014 are: 
Delhi gets top spot: Delhi
rated as the number one e-commerce hub and state with maximum
number of mobile phones and
accessories sold. 
Women shoppers fuelling
lifestyle consumption: Customers

have been shopping more for products in the lifestyle category with
women shoppers in the country
being the prominent contributors.
The lifestyle category has increased
its share in the pie to 45 percent,
trailing the electronics category by
just two percent now as compared
to seven percent in the previous
Mobile commerce to be the

future of e-commerce: The
increased usage of mobile devices
to access the internet in conjunction
with the deep penetration of mobile
phones in non-metros has led to an
increase in the number of people
shopping online through their
mobile devices. eBay India received
43 percent of traffic through mobile
devices with 60 percent of products
traded through mobile devices in

Push for the 'Make in India'
campaign: There is a considerable
demand in global markets for
unique products like Indian jewelry
and handicrafts. This growing
demand has led to a growth in
export hubs to 206 countries on
eBay India, thus propelling the
Prime Minister's 'Make in India'
visionary campaign.



December 27-January 2, 2015

Tips for families to get
healthy this New Year
Ye a r ’ s
resolutions often focus
This year experts
are encouraging
entire families to
consider making
a pledge to adopt
a healthier and more active lifestyle.
Parents have more potential than
anybody else to influence their children's behavior -- including their
eating habits -- according to a study
by the Academy of Nutrition and
Dietetics. In fact, parents outrank
sports celebrities as the people most
children would most like to be,
according to the survey. “You are
the most influential role model in
your child’s life,” says Kim Larson,
registered dietitian nutritionist and
Academy spokesperson. “Modeling
healthy eating behaviors encourages
children to adopt and choose healthy
behaviors that will benefit them for
a lifetime.”
Setting Realistic Goals
Small steps add up, and Larson
recommends making healthy
lifestyle changes that are realistic
and easy to stick with for the longhaul. Try adopting healthy changes
for the entire family, such as: 
Make sure your kids know they
are part of the team and that health
and fitness are a family affair. 
Encourage children to help plan


meals -- from
developing the
menu to shopping to preparing
and serving the
Serve regular, balanced
snacks with a
variety of nutrient-rich foods. 
Eat breakfast daily. 
Enjoy family dinner together
each night or as often as possible. 
At each meal, fill half your
plate with fruits and vegetables. 
Make at least half of the grains
you eat whole grains. 
Get active. Incorporate physical
activity where you can in your day,
whether taking a family walk after
dinner or hitting the gym.
Remember, children and teens
should get at least 60 minutes of
physical activity per day, and adults
should get two and a half hours per
week. Focus on Overall Health, Not
Weight Alone
According to the experts, good
nutrition, health, and fitness fun
should be the focus of your family’s
goals, not calorie counting, food
restriction or working out.
“You don’t want your kids to
think that a healthy lifestyle is only
about how much they weigh,”
Larson says. “Concentrate on delicious nutrition and fun physical
activities,” says Larson.

Space? Ocean depths? Experts
predict the future of travel
s you book your next
vacation, it doesn’t hurt to
think ahead -- way ahead.
Technology is changing everything about the way we live, work
and play, and travel is no exception.
Indeed, Earth’s orbit and the
depths of the oceans will become
vacation destinations over the
next decade, according to predictions laid out in the third part of
“Future of Travel 2024,” a report
conducted by Skyscanner, a leading global travel search engine.
“Future travelers will be able to
take advantage of truly tailored
adventures in space and beyond
due to technological innovations
on the horizon,” says Filip
Intrigued? Here are three areas
of travel where you can expect to
see dramatic changes in the not so
distant future, according to the


Space and Sea
For travelers, space tourism is
an emerging frontier. Travelers
will be able to enter Earth’s low
orbit to experience the stunning
curvature of the globe from an
ultra-high altitude. Looking
beyond 2024, space travelers may
soon be able to enjoy the view
suspended in sky resorts containing zero-gravity spas, space glid-

Hyper-personalized Hotels

ers and space observatories where
guests can even experience
“Even more exciting than being
able to jet off into outer space will
be the possibility of flying in low
orbital space planes that will radically cut inter-continental flight
times, even eliminating jetlag in
the process,” says Filipov.
Journeys to the bottom of the
sea are predicted to be a much
more mainstream, affordable and
fashionable alternative to space
travel. While underwater hotel
rooms already exist as novelty
destinations, a new wave of innovators are scaling up the concept,
aiming to build entire resorts
under the waves -- including spas,
gardens and pools, all with aquarium style-windows allowing
guests to go outside in diving

Job seekers: resolve to make a better impression in 2015
irst impressions matter,
particularly when you’re
in the market for a new
job. While a top notch resume
and cover letter can help get
your foot in the door, only you
can seal the deal.
The New Year is the perfect
time to revamp your look for a
smooth job search. Make a
strong first impression at your
next interview or networking
event with these easy tips: 
Be a good listener. What
you say is just as important as
being engaged when others are
talking. Make good eye contact
and ask questions to show you
are interested in what is being
Anticipate the questions
you will be asked so you are
prepared with intelligent, confident and articulate responses.
Define your strengths and
weaknesses ahead of time to
answer every hard question with
Get a good night’s sleep
the night before an important


interview or convention. Not
only will you look fresher and
more alert in the morning,
you’ll be thinking more clearly
as well. 
Know how to explain any
gaps in your resume. If you
have taken time off from your
field to pursue a passion for
travel, be ready to discuss this
time off and explain how it has
helped you professionally. 
Prepare your 30-second

elevator pitch to communicate
your strengths and goals. You
never know where a conversation with a hiring manager may
lead, so be sure to tailor it to
each person you speak with so it
does not sound over-rehearsed
or unnatural. 
“It’s not what you know;
it’s who you know.” Be sure
that your LinkedIn profile is up
to date, showcasing all of your
recent work. Connect with

headhunters, friends, family, or
even old classmates and
coworkers to learn about opportunities you may not have heard
about otherwise. 
Dress to impress to be
taken seriously. Denis Daly
Wood, founder of Dalys1895.
com, a century-old men’s luxury
designer and online retailer, recommends standing out with a
unique accessory for your suit,
such as a stylish tie clip, tie,
pocket square, or pair of cufflinks that can break the ice and
start a conversation. “A unique
pocket square can finish off the
look of a suit or blazer, while
also helping convey that you are
stylish and put together. What
you wear communicates a lot
about your personality and who
you are,” says Wood. Wood also
reminds job seekers that outerwear and a bag may often make
or break the first impression. A
sophisticated briefcase, coat and
winter scarf can give you a polished look when you’re making
your entrance.

Forget the television, hotel room
walls will one day be fully interactive, capable of playing films,
showing pictures, displaying
video calls from loved ones and
even providing frosting for private
work spaces within the room.
“As a response to advances in
technology, hotels will empower
guests with incredible levels of
hyper-personalization,” says
Filipov. “Travelers will be able to
book rooms through their mobile
devices where everything from
the air temperature to shower settings is set specifically for them.”

New Destinations to Discover
Bragging rights are a perennial
travel motivator. In 2024, travelers seeking unique journeys that
will make them the envy of
friends and family will have no
shortage of choices.
The emergence of “forbidden
zones,” areas currently deemed
inaccessible by conflict, will
become attractive new destinations for discovery. Off-the-beaten
track destinations like Bhutan are
already seeing an increase in
interest -- as Skyscanner searches
of this destination are up 40 percent since 2013.
Tourists are also predicted to
travel to destinations where they
can view endangered species and
habitats before they’re gone.

Check on charities
before writing a check
t’s the season for charitable giving, but do you know where your
hard-earned money is really
going when you donate to a particular
charity? With scams and misspent
funds an all too common scenario,
it’s important to get savvy.
While many Americans know it’s
crucial to do some background
research before writing a check,
many donors don’t know all the indicators to watch out for, according to
new data.
Americans consider finances to be
the most important indicator of trust
in a charity, according to a study by
the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
However, the BBB recommends taking a more holistic approach toward
reviewing a charity.
A good place to start your research
is by checking whether a charity is
accredited by the BBB Wise Giving
Alliance, which evaluates charitable
organizations on 20 holistic standards
covering governance, effectiveness
reporting, finances, appeal accuracy
and other issues, to assist donors in
making informed giving decisions.
To investigate a charity, check out



'Most US children likely to live
with unmarried mothers'
ore than half of all US children
will likely live with unmarried
mothers at some point before
they reach 18, said a study by
researchers from the Princeton
University and the Harvard University,
the US.
The absence of a biological father
increases the likelihood that a child will
exhibit anti-social behavior like aggression, breaking rules and delinquency.
"These children are 40 percent less
likely to finish high schools or attend
colleges," the team noted.
Since 1965, the percentage of children
raised by unmarried mothers has gone up
significantly among all groups.
"The fact that single motherhood is
increasing faster among women with
less than a college degree means that
children growing up with a single mother are likely to be doubly disadvantaged," said Sara McLanahan from
Princeton University.
The official poverty rate in 2013
among all families with children was 40
percent if the family was headed by an
unmarried mother and only eight percent
if the family was headed by a married


Evidence on the impact of these trends
comes from the Fragile Families and
Child Wellbeing study which is following a cohort of nearly 5,000 children
born in large American cities between
1998 and 2000.
The findings coincide with the 50th
anniversary of the controversial
"Moynihan Report," a 1965 study by
sociologist Daniel Patrick Moynihan that
argued that growing up in homes without
a male breadwinner led to a life of
poverty, unemployment and crime.
Also, the high rate of partner turnover
during a mother's peak fertility years
means that children now experience
multiple men entering and exiting their
lives, the researchers added.
"Both the departure of a father and the
arrival of a mother's new partner disrupt
family routines and are stressful for most
children, regardless of whether the father
was married to the mother or just living
with her," McLanahan pointed out.
Changing the current dynamic will be
difficult, the authors wrote.
The study appeared in the journal

Men shop more via
smartphones than women
our spouse
may find it
digest this but men
are much more likely
than women to go
beyond browsing on
their smartphones to
make an actual purchase, says a survey.
Conducted online
among 2,013 adults
ages 18 and older,
the survey from advertising
business organizations Interactive Advertising Bureau
(IAB) global communications
and technology leader Verizon,
show the gender difference is
especially notable within the
younger demographic.
"We found that three-quarters
(76 percent) of male smartphone users ages 18-34 shop via
smartphones in a typical month
compared to 59 percent of
women in the same age category," the researchers said in a
statement. That particular age
group is also among the biggest
spenders on mobile, with 39
percent of 18-to-34-year-old
smartphone users saying they
spend at least $51 or more via
smartphone in an average
month, as compared to 27 percent of overall survey participants. The study also shows that
smartphones are second only to


computers among devices used
for shopping, with 40 percent of
smartphone owners stating that
they use their device to research
products they are interested in.
"We see this research as
reflecting the growing importance of smartphones at consumers' disposal, signaling an
opportunity for marketers to
reach consumers at the time and
place where they are already
holiday shopping - on their
phones," Anna Bager at IAB
was quoted as saying.
In addition, with smartphones,
tablets and other devices gaining traction as shopping channels all around the year, it is
important that "we understand
exactly how consumers interact
with these screens to research,
shop for purchase products, so
advertisers can accurately target
them in a timely fashion, as they
are doing on other media platforms," Bager said.

December 27-January 2, 2015


Don’t buy your children
cheap, old car: Research
arents could be putting their
children’s lives at risk if they
buy them a cheap and old car,
say researchers. Almost half of
teenage drivers killed on US roads in
the past few years were driving vehicles that were 11 or more years old
and often lacked key safety features,
the researchers said.
“Given that teenage drivers are
more likely to be involved in road
traffic collisions than older drivers, it
is especially important that they drive
vehicles fitted with key safety features, which afford good protection Almost 50% of teenage drivers killed on US roads in
in the event of a crash,” explained
5 years were driving 11 or more years old car
corresponding author Anne McCartt
from Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, small car and just over one in three (35 percent)
Virginia. The researchers analyzed data from the were driving a mid-size or larger car.
The rest were driving pickups (17 percent) and
US Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)
sports utility vehicles, otherwise known as SUVs
for 2008-12.
FARS collects information on all vehicle colli- (17 percent).
“Larger, heavier vehicles generally provide
sions on US public roads that result in at least
much better crash protection than smaller, lighter
one death within 30 days of the incident.
Using vehicle information databases, they ones,” they wrote.
“Newer vehicles generally are also more likely
compared the type, size and age of vehicles driven by 2,420 teenage drivers (15-17 year olds) to have better crash test ratings and important
with those driven by 18,975 middle-aged drivers safety features,” the authors added.
The findings appeared online in the journal
(35-50 year olds). Of two-thirds of the teen drivers who died, 29 percent were driving a mini or Injury Prevention.


Hollywood saw hair experiments in 2014
ollywood celebrities
like Kristen Stewart
and Emma Stone
experimented with new hair
cuts and color swaps in 2014.
Here are some of the most
noteworthy switch-ups of
2014, reports


Kristen Stewart: For a
star who hardly ever takes
fashion risks, the "Twilight"
star surprised many with her
new bright-orange hue in
April. Soon after her dye job,
she chopped her locks into a
rocker-chic short asymmetrical
Adam Levine: The
singer-actor went from dark
haired man to a bold platinum
hued one. 

Katy Perry: The singer
has rocked a rainbow of colors.
And while she's stepped out
with purple and red hair this
year, it's her slime green look
that was the most memorable. 
Emma Stone: She sported everything from bangs to
the celeb-loved bob and bangs
Beyonce Knowles: It's
been a year full of major mane
changes for the singer, who
can't seem to stick to one style
for too long.
In 2014, the stylish star
wore a head full of long, elaborate braids, debuted baby
bangs and most recently
hopped on the star-studded
bob bandwagon.

Now a social networking platform to help insomniacs
n expert from Loughborough
University in Britain has
developed a social network
platform called ‘Sleepful’ to help
insomniacs access online a promising
“talking therapy”. Called Cognitive
Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia
(CBT-I), the therapy is based on evidence that falling asleep is strongly
influenced by two psychological
processes – learning and thinking.
Good sleepers learn to feel sleepier
as a result of going to bed, and find
little difficulty in “winding down”
their thoughts before going to sleep.


People with insomnia, on the other
hand, learn to feel more alert in bed,
and often describe their minds as
“CBT-I is a ‘talking therapy’ which
offers a range of effective strategies to
increase sleepiness in bed, control
pre-sleep thoughts and worries, deal
practically with periods of night-time
wakefulness and appropriately manage fatigue during the day,” said
Kevin Morgan, director of the
Clinical Sleep Research Unit (CSRU)
at Loughborough. Treatments involve
adjusting sleep habits, learning tech-

niques to reduce worries and increase
relaxation at night, general education
about ‘sleep hygiene’, and self-monitoring using daily sleep diaries.
“Unlike drugs, CBT-I addresses the
root causes of insomnia – safely and
lastingly,” he added. The website contains a structured eight-step treatment
program of CBT for insomnia, a
mobile phone ‘app’ which records
sleep patterns, a section on frequently
asked questions (FAQs) and, crucially, an online social network where
people with insomnia can talk to fellow sufferers.


December 27-January 2, 2015


Funny Side by Nury Vittachi

I just finished reading the Internet. It's not bad.

HESE DAYS I spend so much time
on the internet that has
replaced its "You May Also Like" recommendations list with a pop-up note saying: "Turn this off and go for a walk, you fat
lazy slob."

Of course, I am not a PROBLEM addict,
although I must admit, during my brief visits
to the real world, I spend an inordinate
length of time annoyed that real life doesn't
have a "back" button.
(Massive design oversight there.)

It's hard to get us 21st Century People,
especially males, off our screens.
Our wives sometimes try to get us to move
using the trendy word "Yolo," which stands
for You Only Live Once.
But this doesn't work in Asia, where most
of my friends believe in reincarnation.
"What do you mean Yolo? Stop bugging me,
I'll log off and do something in my next life."

For people who do have internet addiction,
a service has been set up just for you. It’s at
Yes, it's online. Hmm.

But I began to realize just how serious a
web-surfer I was when I detected that I was
showing all three signs of being a net junkie:
1) The links on every webpage on the
WHOLE INTERNET are dark red which
means I’ve clicked them before.
2) All my best friends are people I’ve
never met.
3) My "bookmarks" list is longer than a

My wife thinks that camps to beat web
addiction should be physical places.
True, but who's going to go to them unless
they have Wi-Fi?
The odd thing is that sitting looking at a
screen is strangely exhausting.
I saw a news report recently about a flight
in Wuhan, central China, which couldn't land
for 30 minutes because air traffic controllers
had fallen asleep at their screens. The plane
nearly ran out of fuel.
The report didn't say how they eventually
managed to wake them, but I suspect the
Boeing 737 "buzzed" the window of the air-

port control tower with the pilots hanging
out of the cockpit windows shouting: "Hey!

Minecraft world or SimCity.
Then all those hours I've "wasted" can be
put to good use.

The same week, there was a newspaper
story about a guy who hijacked a night flight
in France to take him to Geneva.
The French air force had to escort it
because the entire Swiss air force had gone
They clearly haven't internalized the fact
that military action is not a nine- to-five
thing. World War III will be interesting.
“Guet nacht, esteemed enemy combatants,
it’s time to go home and relax with a plate of
raclette and some online extreme yodeling
videos. See you tomorrow.”

Meanwhile in Chongqing, someone has
painted markings on the pavement to create a
slow lane for those who walk while staring at
Who did it? Probably the "Chongqing
Association of Snatch-Thieves", for their
own convenience.
Should one risk it? My internet-addicted
friends in Asia say:
“Sure. You only live once. Or twice. Or

My hope is that whoever organizes world
wars will delay the start of the next biggie
until the whole thing can be fought in

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back
to my current project, creating a "back" button for real life.
It's the male sex's only hope.

Laughter is the Best Medicine

by Mahendra Shah
Mahendra Shah is an architect by education, entrepreneur by profession, artist and
humorist, cartoonist and writer by hobby. He has been recording the plight of the
immigrant Indians for the past many years in his cartoons. Hailing from Gujarat,
he lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


By Dr Prem Kumar Sharma
December 27-January 2, 2014
Tread carefully on the work front as
the week seems professionally
unfavourable. A lucrative investment
opportunity can tempt you, but take the
suggestions of experts before committing.
A forthcoming family event is likely to
raise your spirits.
Those thinking of a short vacation will find
the change most exhilarating. Love is in the
air and shows all signs of making the week
fun. You will need to do something to
remain fit.

Your performance at work is likely
to impress seniors. You can expect a
favourable outcome of a problem that had
been troubling you for long. Rest and relaxation is yours as you manage to find the
perfect getaway. Some positive steps on
your part can be instrumental in enhancing
Those in love can expect a time of their
lives this week. Don’t miss out on regular
workouts on flimsy excuses.

December 27-January 2, 2015


Chandigarh, India: +91-172- 256 2832, 257 2874
Delhi, India: +91-11- 2644 9898, 2648 9899;

Annual Predictions: For those born in this week
27th December, 2014
Ruled planet: Mars Ruled by no: 9
Traits in you: Being ruled by Mars, you are aggressive,
courageous, aspiring, focused, friendly, generous, and honest. You lag behind others because you lose many opportunities. You need to work on your frequent mood swings and
Health this year: Health wise you will enjoy a great time
throughout the year. You may suffer few minor health issues
such as cold, headache or body aches. You need to take
proper medications to remain physically and mentally fit.
Finance this year: As far as your financial condition is considered, you will enjoy a better status as compared to the
last year. You will get enough benefits from your previous
investments. You may plan for new investments. You may
go for partnerships to start new ventures. Domestic as well
as overseas ventures will be successful this year. You need
to create new contacts for the growth in your business as it
will earn you more projects and money.
Career this year: You will be establishing yourself as a
very efficient and important resource in your organization
this year. Your performance will influence your peers, seniors and higher management. It is the best time to look out
for a new job as it will help you grow both professionally
and financially.
Romance this year: Your plans to go for holidays with
your partner may not work because of huge work pressure
and this may create disturbance in your marital life. You
need to take care of the emotional requirements of your
partner to lead a peaceful life this year.
Lucky month: March, September and November.

A lot of hard work is foreseen for
those trying to make their mark in a
totally different field. Your expenditure will
be much more than what you manage to
earn, so keep a close tab on your spending.
A family get together can find you into
your element. Your neutral stance on an
issue can be resented by some, but in the
end will be appreciated. Health remains satisfactory.

Your romantic aspirations are likely
to be rewarded soon, so wait for the
cupid’s arrow! You can waste some precious time in participating in an event that
does not particularly interest you. A depleting bank balance can get you worried, but it
will only be a temporary phase. A bit of
legwork may be required to get a deal
Laziness may threaten to break your exercise regime.

Things may not go your way on the
work front with rivals working
against you. You may face difficulties in
proving your mettle in a competitive situation. Arguments and heated discussions can
mar domestic peace. This is the time to add
to your financial assets. A new workout
regime will serve your purpose excellently
on the health front. Better understanding
with lover is likely to enrich your romantic

Playing your cards well in a family
situation will get you the support
and attention you crave for. Professional
worries can chase some, but will disappear
in time.
A sale may not give the expected returns
despite your efforts. Acquisition of property
is in the pipeline for some. Those going for
a long drive are in for an enjoyable time.
You will need to take better care of your

Time has arrived to reap rich
rewards of your hard work. This
week, you are likely to make a mark on the
professional front. Your philanthropic
nature will be much admired and make you
feel good from inside. Probationers and
internees will get a chance to showcase
their talents.
Good avenues open up to make you financially secure. There is a possibility of gaining wealth or property by way of inheritance.

You hate being sidelined, but this is
what you may experience this week.
Some of you can remain mentally tensed
over a professional issue.
A family member can cause you hardship
and can even work against your interest.
Spouse or lover will be most supportive
and will always be there when you need
him or her the most.
Relocation to some other down cannot be
ruled out for some. Health may cause

There is a good chance of getting
mentally stressed, if you continue to
do what you shouldn’t be doing. Some of
you will need to keep your tempers under
control on the work front. Those lagging
behind in preparation can find the time running out. With parents away, household
responsibilities are likely to come on some
youngsters. Your childishness can put off
lover and put paid to your romantic aspirations.

Good weeks are ahead for students
that is what the stars foretell.
Mental tension over an issue can become a
thing of the past. An outing with family
and friends is likely and will prove refreshing and restful.
You will achieve focus in whatever you are
aiming at. Hard work will be required for
earning good money. Those getting out of
shape will need to do something about it

29th December, 2014
Ruled planet: 2 Ruled by no :Moon
Traits in you: Your ruler, the Moon makes you a very
friendly individual. You are simple, confident, realistic, sincere, and optimistic. You are very innovative and try to perform your work in a different and efficient way. You need
to work hard on your characteristics of being jealous and insensitive at times.
Health this year: You will enjoy a normal health this year.
However, you need to be in regular contact with your doctor to remain healthy. If you face some minor health issues,
you should take prescribed medication without neglecting.
Finance this year: You will be able to stabilize your financial condition by reaping profits from your past investments. You may also plan for new investments this year.
You will find enough new opportunities to start up a new
business that would yield money for you. You should invest
in real estate or stock market for better returns.
Career this year: You will be successful professionally this
year. You will be additional responsibility and you will well
execute them to perfection. Your success may get you various awards and rewards as well. You may share your ideas
with the higher management as it would help you grow
Romance this year: You will spend a peaceful life with
your love interest this year. You will lead a blissful life with
your beloved with lots of love, care, concern, and support.
Lucky month: April, July and November.

Those feeling ill at ease over an
issue can rest easy. Financial problems facing you will not seem as serious as
you had thought them to be. You will deliver on the professional front and add to your
A chance of overseas travel that threatened
to get postponed will come through.
Chance meeting with someone from the
opposite camp can signal the beginning of a
long-term relationship.

You are likely to become the
favourite of all, thanks to the efforts
of a well wisher. Chances of friends or relations coming and staying with you cannot
be ruled out.
Spouse will do much to brighten up the
domestic front. You will succeed in countering politics targeting you on the professional front. A new acquisition is on the
cards for some. Changing your routine will
be good for health.

30th December, 2014
Ruled planet: Jupiter
Ruled by no: 3
Traits in you: As you are ruled by Jupiter, you are ambitious, dignified, friendly, cheerful and highly optimistic.
You are a believer but you do not believe anything without
proper proof. People respect in many ways as you are very
social and friendly to them. However, your arrogance
blocks the way to become a complete person.
Health this year: You may enjoy a great health this year.
However, that does not mean you will start neglecting your
health. You need to take care of your diet and nutrition to
maintain a good health. You may practice some exercises to
remain fit.
Finance this year: Monetary benefits will be tough to
achieve this year. You may not get expected financial support from your family. Your past investments will not work

28th December, 2014
Ruled planet: Sun Ruled by no: 1
Traits in you: Due to the positive effects of your ruling
planet Sun, you will have the characteristics of a good human being. By nature, you are accountable, unique, courageous, committed, competitive, coordinated and intelligent.
You should work on your negative personality traits such as
selfishness, dependency and pessimism.
Health this year: You need to take an appropriate care of
your health. You may fall sick in the middle months of the
year though those will not be serious. If you are a sportsperson, you need to be very careful for your diet and nutrition
to perform better in your sporting events.
Finance this year: You may get benefits from your investments later this year. This year seems to be an ideal one to
start investing in business, land or gold. Your efforts to earn
money may pay off this time. You may go for new partnerships. However, you should verify the financial background
of your partner for your financial security.
Career this year: You may have to take few major decisions in your profession. You can succeed if you put some
extra effort in your work and deliver quality. You have to
drive the team to put qualitative effort.
Romance this year: If you are yet to be in a committed relationship, you may get into one this year. If you are already
committed, then you may plan for marriage towards the end
of the year.
Lucky month: June, September and October.

this year as expected. However, you may go for new short
term investments, which will gain you enough money. If
you are planning to set up a business, it is advisable not to
go for any partnerships.
Career this year: Your confidence will convert you into a
winner. You will be capable enough to overcome any challenge you need to face. The chances of your promotion and
transfer are high due to the organizational change.
Romance this year: Your romantic life will become stagnant this year as you may not give enough time to your
beloved. If you are unmarried and planning to marry this
year, it may not happen because of the negative movements
of your stars and planets.
Lucky month: February, June and August.
31st December, 2014
Ruled planet: Uranus Ruled by no: 4
Traits in you: Uranus, being your dominating planet helps
you become dynamic and creative. You are positive, realistic, responsive, and sincere. You need to work and overcome the weaknesses in your personality to attract more
people towards you.
Health this year: Your health would remain very good this
year. However, you need to go for regular yoga exercises.
You should not ignore your healthy diet plan to remain in
shape. Go for regular medical checkups to avoid any hiccups further.
Finance this year: Though you will be able to improve
your financial status, you may end up spending a lot of
money in buying luxury and comfort for yourself and your
family. You may put your money in real estate for better returns.
Career this year: Your efforts will bear results and you will
be appreciated with awards and rewards towards the end of
the year. You may get a promotion for your smart work and
Romance this year: Your plans to go for holidays with
your partner may not work because of huge work pressure
and this may create disturbance in your marital life. You
need to take care of the emotional requirements of your
partner to lead a peaceful life this year.
Lucky month: March, June and September.
1st January, 2015
Ruled planet: Sun Ruled by no:1
Traits in you: Your ruling planet, the Sun blesses you with
a unique character. You are pretty confident, creative, intellectual, optimistic, and enthusiastic. You are gifted with an
artistic perception. You are very much social and like to
make new contacts wherever you go. However, you need to
control your mood swings and selfishness.
Health this year: You may go through a very bad patch as
far as your health is concerned this year. You may fall sick
frequently with minor diseases like fever, cough, cold, body
pain, and so on. You should take care of your health by taking proper medication.
Finance this year: If you are well educated and employed,
you may find yourself in huge monetary benefits this year.
You might get favors from government officials to get your
work done, which will earn you a lot of money. You may
go for investments in various sectors as it may prove to be
profitable for you.
Career this year: You are quite capable of taking wise decisions. So your colleagues may seek you help in taking
critical decisions. You will excel as an efficient employee
and this might bring you a promotion or salary hike. Your
confidence, hard work, and dedication will help you obtain
success in every project assigned to you.
Romance this year: You may go for a romantic relationship this year if you are yet to be in one. If you are married,
you will enjoy a good time with your spouse. You may plan
for marriage if you are still unmarried. You should plan for
a long holiday with your partner to give time to each other.
Lucky month: February, May, September & December
2nd January, 2015
Ruled planet: Moon
Ruled by no: 2
Traits in you: Being influenced by the Moon, you are creative, simple, reliable, intelligent, hardworking, and very
social. You are a very efficient in your work. However, you
need to control your attitude of being rude and pessimistic.
Health this year: Your health will remain fine. However,
you may suffer from various minor diseases say cough,
cold, body pain, loss of sleep and so on. To enjoy a very
healthy life, you need to get a good control on your diet.
You have to stay away from alcohol and cigarettes to avoid
any organ dysfunction.
Finance this year: You may go through a moderate financial condition this year. You past investments may not bring
you expected results. You may get minimal return from
your fixed savings and that would not make you secure financially. You should not lend money to anyone during this
year as you may feel the requirement of money at any point
of time.
Career this year: Being a hardworking professional, you
are well capable of performing the best. However, you need
to be very selective and cautious if you plan to make a move
for your career. You may go for a new job opportunity. You
may see many ups and downs in your career as you may
struggle to get things right for yourself.
Romance this year: Your marital life will go on smoothly
with the gradually growing understanding between you and
your spouse. You will get enough support from your partner
whenever you are in a problem. If you are yet to marry, you
may need to wait for another year.
Lucky month: June, November, December


December 27-January 2, 2015


Chapter excerpt from the book: Empowering Your Soul through Meditation

Know the true nature of your soul

By Sant Rajinder Singh
Ji Maharaj
ithin us are riches greater
than any we can ever
accumulate on earth. We
have inside us a source of knowledge from which all other knowledge flows.
A love far greater and fulfilling
than any we can know in the outer
world is waiting to embrace us with
open arms within. At our core is a
strength and power that can enable
us to overcome any fear.
Underlying our separateness as
individuals is a connectedness and
oneness to all life. Awaiting us
inside is a bliss and joy so fulfilling
that we need no other outer intoxicants to make us happy. All these
gifts lie within us in the empowered
The soul is a source of tremendous wisdom, love, and power, yet
we remain ignorant of its treasures
when we allow it to be overpowered by the mind, the senses, and
the physical body. When the mind
and body assert power over the
soul, the soul forgets itself. But the
empowered soul is our true nature,
and it is time we reclaim the soul so
that its gifts can enrich our life.
There are two ways through
which to view ourselves with
regard to the soul.
The first is to view ourselves primarily as a body and mind. When
we see ourselves in this manner, we
say that we are a mind and body
that “have a soul.”
The second is to see ourselves
primarily as a soul. When we
change perspective and identify
with the soul, we say that we are a
soul who “has or wears a mind and
body.” To assess how we look at
ourselves is one of our goals. If we
think we are a mind and body, then
ours is a journey to find the soul. If
we realize that we are the soul,
which has been given a mind and
body to maneuver through the
physical world, then our goal is to
further empower the soul. By
empowering the soul we recover its
natural control over the mind and
The aim of Empowering Your
Soul through Meditation is to help
reacquaint us with the qualities of
the soul and provide direction for
its empowerment.
The soul’s power has been forgotten. The mind, the senses, the body,
and the pulls of the physical world


have placed the soul in a state of
forgetfulness from which we must
awaken. When we empower our
soul, its wisdom, immortality, love,
fearlessness, connectedness, and
bliss add a new dimension to our
Many people live and die without
ever realizing the full power and
potential of their soul. At some time
in their life, they may begin to wonder about the soul, about God, and
about the purpose of their existence. This search for meaning and
purpose—the spiritual quest—is
one that people pursue in individual
ways. Some seek answers in scripture while others search in places of
worship. Some go beyond their

any scriptures.
Some of them we know of
through references by other people
who wrote about them. One thing is
clear: these realized souls have the
ability to teach us how to realize
ourselves. If we find such a being,
we can learn how we, too, can discover our soul and its attributes.
True knowledge comes from seeing
and experiencing on our own. We
may read what others write or listen
to what others say, but we cannot
be fully satisfied until we experience it for ourselves.
This book touches on the two
aspects of spiritual knowledge that
can help us realize our soul: the
theoretical knowledge, and the per-

technique for the realization of our
soul and the empowering of it to
guide our lives.
Some of us may spend our lives
searching for knowledge in the
world outside.
Little do we know that the source
of all answers, the universal wisdom, lies within us. Some of us
may find that at times our life is
thwarted by fear and anxiety, hopelessness and depression, yet we
have a source of fearlessness within
us that can help us overcome any
inner turmoil. We fear our own
death and the passing away of our
loved ones. We are petrified of the
unknown and what awaits us
beyond this life. But we do not real-

The soul is a source of
tremendous wisdom,
love, and power, yet we
remain ignorant of its
treasures when we allow
it to be overpowered by
the mind, the senses, and
the physical body. When
the mind and body assert
power over the soul, the
soul forgets itself. But the
empowered soul is our
true nature, and it is time
we reclaim the soul so
that its gifts can enrich
our life.
own religion to find the answers
offered in other faiths. Whichever
method one adopts, the direction
one follows to find the answers to
life’s questions is known as the
spiritual path. It is the spiritual path
that leads us to the realization of
our inner self, to the soul.
Many people pass through life
never realizing who they are and
never certain about the purpose of
their existence.
In times of trouble or in the face
of death, they may raise these questions but may not follow them
through to a fulfilling conclusion or
else may abandon the process when
the bad times pass. But those who
have a burning desire to find the
answers to the mysteries of life can
find them.
Fortunately, there are people in
the world who have found spiritual
fulfillment and can guide us. If we
look through history we find that in
every generation there have been
people who have realized themselves as soul and have realized
God. Some of their wisdom and
experiences have been recorded in
history and, in some cases, a religion has been created from their
teachings. Other realized souls have
come and gone but have left behind
no records because they did not
found a religion or leave behind

sonal or practical knowledge. The
theoretical side consists of what
other realized people have said
about the soul (such as what are
some of the qualities—wisdom,
immortality, fearlessness, love,
connectedness, and bliss). The personal or practical side consists of a
technique that I learned from a fully
realized being. I wish to share this
technique to help others realize
their soul on their own.
On the theoretical side, a basic
agreement among enlightened souls
is that we are not just a physical
body, but we are also the soul or
spirit behind the body. It is the soul
that that gives us life. When the
soul is in the body, we are physically alive. When the soul leaves the
body at the time of death, the body
ceases to exist. The body may perish, but the soul that inhabits it is
The soul continues to exist after
our physical death.
We are aware of our physical
body because we can look at it, feel
it, and listen to sounds coming from
it. However, where and what is the
soul? How can we recognize it?
What are its characteristics and
qualities? This book provides a way
for us to accomplish two tasks: the
theoretical understanding of our
true selves as soul; and the practical

ize that immortality is ours. We
crave love and seek it many places.
But there is an unconditional love
that is ours awaiting us with open
We need only turn in the right
direction to find it. We feel alone
and unconnected in this world. But
there is a place of unity and connectedness within us. If we could
but only tap it we would find the
richness of relationships with others, with nature, and with all life.
Exploration within will help us
discover our own potential. Once
we learn to tap into our inner
resources, we experience a profound transformation that will
enrich all areas of our life—from
personal relations, to physical,
mental and emotional health, to our
work, to our spiritual growth, and
the attainment of our life’s goals.
This transformation can bring
peace and joy into our lives and can
contribute to a peaceful, loving
world. The Empowered Soul is a
manual for daily living and personal discovery.
From the outset, we should define
certain terminology to ensure that
there is no confusion in how words
are being used throughout the book.
The term “soul” is defined as our
true essence or spiritual side—the
part of us that lives beyond the

death of our physical body. The
soul exists whether it has a body or
mind. When it enters this world, it
is given a body and mind. As
human beings, we are thus “embodied souls” or souls with a body and
The terms “we” or “us” refer to
us as human beings or embodied
souls. The process of finding the
soul is referred to as “tapping into”
or “discovering our soul within us.”
When we finally do discover our
soul and identify with it as being
our true nature, then the soul is
referred to as the “empowered
soul,” a soul that has recognized
itself and is aware that it is the
essence of who we really are, that it
is the guiding power behind the
body and mind.
True joy is not as elusive as we
think. We can find lasting happiness if we only look in the right
place. Within us lies the unlimited
power and energy of the empowered soul. Its rich qualities include
wisdom, fearlessness, immortality,
unconditional love, connectedness,
and bliss. Tapping into the soul and
its power can enrich and transform
our life.
We remain ignorant of these inner
gifts because blockages keep us
from tapping into them. How can
we remove these blockages? What
process do we need to employ to
discover all that we seek?
There are simple techniques for
accessing the riches of our soul. We
need not search the four corners of
the earth. We need not travel into
outer space.
These techniques can be practiced in the comfort of our home.
Once we learn to tap into our
inner resources, we can experience
a profound transformation that can
enrich all areas of our life—personal relations; physical, mental, and
emotional health; professional
work; spiritual growth; and the
attainments of our life’s goals. This
transformation cannot only bring
peace and joy to our lives, but can
also contribute to a peaceful, loving
The aim of the book is to provide
a means by which we can re-identify with the soul, (i.e. realize that the
mind and body are merely our
soul’s outer coverings through
which it can live and work in this
physical world) and to empower the
soul to guide our life.
Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj
is an internationally recognized
spiritual leader and Master of
Jyoti Meditation who affirms the
transcendent oneness at the heart
of all religions and mystic traditions, emphasizing ethical living
and meditation as building blocks
for achieving inner and outer

December 27-January 2, 2015

December 27-January 2, 2015