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The South Asian Times

e x c e l l e n c e

Vol.9 No. 33 December 10-16, 2016 80 Cents

i n

j o u r n a l i s m

New York Edition

ʻFor God's sake, do your jobʼ
President Pranab Mukherjee slams Opposition
for 'gagging majority' in Parliament.
New Delhi: As disruptions and
adjournments threaten to wash out
another session of parliament,
President Pranab Mukherjee's
strong rebuke Thursday was clear‑
ly aimed at parliamentarians: "For
God's sake, do your job. You are
meant to transact business in
Parliament."
The daily disruption of parlia‑
ment is "not acceptable at all", the
President said while delivering the
Defense Estate Day lecture on elec‑
toral reforms.
Stalling parliament, he said,
"means you are gagging the major‑
ity". The winter session has been

hamstrung by protests and
adjournments with the opposition
aggressively taking on the govern‑
ment on the notes ban announced
on Nov 8 by Prime Minister
Narendra Modi. Marking a month
of the demonetization drive, the

Tamil Nadu’s Iron
Lady leaves a void

opposition held a "black day", wore
black bands to parliament and
protested near the iconic Gandhi
statue in the parliament complex.
"Leaders are not elected to sit in
dharna in Parliament. You can sit
for protests in other places. But
you are meant to exercise your
authority as a Lok Sabha member
and do your job," said the
President, who was among the
country's most senior and respect‑
ed parliamentarians before he took
on the top job in 2012.
"If issues are not debated, not
properly scrutinized in the floor

Continued on page 4

More Jaya stories on page 14‑15.

US designates
India as ‘Major
Defense Partner’'

23 nations celebrate release
of Diwali stamp at UN

Detailed story and event picture on page 3.

Chennai: J. Jayalalithaa, who died on
December 5, was an actress‑turned‑politi‑
cian who served five terms as the Chief
Minister of Tamil Nadu for over 14 years
between 1991 and 2016.
She left behind a state that ranks
among India's top five in many social,
crime and industrial indicators. Her peo‑
ple worshipped their Amma.
It is going to take her party, AIADMK,

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

Continued on page 4

United Nations: Over 20 countries, including
two UN Security Council permanent members,
France & the UK, supported a dedication ceremo‑
ny hosted by India to commemorate the release
of a Diwali postage stamp by the US. India's
Permanent Representative Continued on page 4

J. Jayalalithaa ruled Tamil Nadu as CM for
14 years. (Photo courtesy: AFP)

Follow us on

The SATimes is Media
Partner for PBD‑2017

T

he
South
Asian Times
has joined
hands with Pravasi
Bharatiya Divas as
the Print Media
Partner for PBD‑
2017. The Ministry
of External Af fairs
of Government of
India, in association with
FICCI, org anizes the PBD
every year, coinciding with
January 9, the day Mahatma
Gandhi returned from South

Africa to join the
I n d i a ʼ s
Independence
movement. PBD‑
2017 will be held
on January 7‑9,
2017 at Bengaluru,
India. Over 3,000
NRI delegates from
all over the world
are expected to attend the
events, which will be also
graced by the President &
Prime Minister of India. The

Continued on page 4

The US Secretary of Defense, Dr. Ashton Carter, calling on
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Dec 8. (Photo: PIB)
New Delhi: In a significant devel‑
opment, the United States on
Thursday designated India as its
"major defense partner".
The designation was accorded to
India follow ing US De fense
Secretary Ashton Carter's meeting
w ith Indian De fense Minister
Manohar Parrikar. During the
meeting, the two sides also dis‑
cussed terrorism and agreed to
strengthen counter‑terror coopera‑
tion.
"The designation of a `Major
Defense Partnerʼ is a status unique
to India and institutionalizes the
progress made to facilitate defense
trade and technology sharing with
India to a level at par with that of
the United Statesʼ closest allies and
partners," a joint statement issued
after the meeting read.
The move also aims at ensuring
an enduring cooperation in the

future, it added.
Parrikar and Carter in their
meeting reviewed the progress
made in the bilateral defense ties
and discussed the immense prom‑
ises for the future of India‑US secu‑
rity cooperation.
"Both sides exchanged views on
regional security issues including
the threat posed by terrorism.
They agreed to continue further
strengthening the bilateral count‑
er‑terrorism cooperat ion and
underlined the need to ensure that
terror groups receive no patron‑
age from any state," the joint state‑
ment said.
India has pointed fingers at
Pakistan repeatedly for waging a
proxy war on India through terror‑
ists trained on its soil. The state‑
ment, however, did not name
Pakistan. Citing common values

Continued on page 4

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TheSouthAsianTimes.info

December 10-16, 2016

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

December 10-16, 2016

TRISTATE COMMUNITY

3

Indian Constitution praised at Consulate event
New York: Salient features of the
Indian Constitution were high‑
lighted at an event organized on
December 3 at the Indian
Consulate, where it was
described as among the best in
the world.
“It was a wonderful achieve‑
ment by India,” Rajesh Sampath,
a Boston professor, said in his
keynote address at the
Constitution Day held in associa‑
t ion w ith the Ambedkar
International Mission (AIM). “A
peaceful transfer of power is
ensured.”
Sampath, who teaches sociolo‑
g y at Brandeis University,
remarked: “It has adopted a fed‑
eral structure, borrowed from the
UK, the US and others. It is a
social document.”

India cares for its society and
stresses unity at the same time,
as well as offers opportunities to
become prosperous, he noted in
his erudite speech. Sampath
arrived in the US as months‑old
infant but returned to his moth‑
erland after 27 years.
T he professor lauded the
ef forts of B.R. Ambedkar, the
chie f
architect
of
the
Constitution, and pointed to his
work to “annihilate” the caste
bias in Indian society.
“We have 2.5 million Indians in
this country and most of them
have succeeded in their fields,”
Sampath said. “If they (the 1.3
billion population in India) also
work hard, they can build a
galaxy of achievements.”
Abraham Joseph, formerly pro‑

fessor at the University of
Oklahoma, also spoke at the
event. So did Prof S. Sitharaman
of the Amity Education Group,
which has a campus on Long
Island. Srinivasa Rao Gudavalli,
consul for trade, education and
commerce, gave the welcome
address.
November 26 is celebrated as
the Constitution Day in India. On
that day in 1949, the statute was
adopted by the Const ituent
Assembly and came into force
three months later – on January
26, 1950.
AIM was set up in Kuala
Lumpur, Malaysia, by expatriate
Indians to highlight the contribu‑
tions of Dr Ambedkar, who was
educated at Columbia University.
It has a US chapter in Texas.

Ranju Batra lauded at Diwali
stamp celebration at UN

Keynote speaker Rajesh Sampath, a Boston professor (left) and
Abraham Joseph, a former professor at University of Oklahoma,
at the Constitution Day held at the Indian Consulate.

Riya Kaur will
represent New York
at Miss India USA
Nishi Bahl of
Panache
entertainment
(right) with
crowned
beauties.

Ravi Batra, Amb. Syed Akbarruddin, Ranju Batra, Zambian ambassador to UN, Mwaba Kasese‑Bota, and
Belarus ambassador Amb. Andrei Dapkiunas unveiling the Diwali stamp.
United Nations: Over 20 countries
supported a dedication ceremony
hosted by India to commemorate
the release of a Diwali postage
stamp by the US.
India's
Permanent
Representative to the UN Syed
Akbaruddin spoke at the Dec 5
event noting that Diwali was com‑
memorated for the first time this
year at the United Nations – a reaf‑
firmat ion of the foundat ional
objectives of the UN Charter and its
purposes and principles, which
stand as a force for universal good.
"Though celebrated by different
communities for different reasons,
the essence of the Diwali celebra‑
tion is the triumph of good over

evil, lig ht over darkness.
Philosophically, the fight is not
only external but also within one‑
self," the Indian ambassador said.
The event lauded the ef forts of
Ranju Batra, Chair of the Diwali
Stamp Project, who spearheaded
the project for 7 years to get the
stamp honoring Diwali festival
issued. "The tens of thousands of
paper petitions (for the Diwali
stamp) were signed not only by
Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists
but also by Christ ians, Jews,
Muslims and every other faith and
culture," Ranju Batra said, express‑
ing gratitude for the support she
got in her journey to get the stamp
issued. A record 1,70,000 stamps

were sold on Day One.
Ravi Batra, Chair, Nat ional
Advisory Council South Asian
Af fairs, said, “To all those who
think that the wars of the past con‑
tinue to hold us prisoner, today's
celebration of the Diwali Stamp
proves that hope for mutually
respectful and mutually‑fair global
peace is not a fantasy, but a dream
that can become real ‑‑ as Ranju
made the Diwali stamp a reality by
getting support from every culture
and every religion by giving them
respect.”
The Diwali Forever Stamp was
formally launched by the USPS in
early October and the stamp was
issued in November.

Melville, NY: Glitz, glamour and
g alore ‑‑ all came down on
December 4 at the Long Island
Hilton! Nishi Bahl of Panache
entertainment, in association
with IFC, hosted the 35th Miss,
9th Teen and the 3rd Mrs. India
New York Pageant! The largest
reputed pageant held outside of
India, this pageant has provided
a platform and had past win‑
ners such as Bollywood actress‑
es Richa Sharma Dutt and Aarti
Chhabria.
Riya Kaur of Valley Stream
was crowned Miss India New
York 2016. Miss Teen India
New York 2016 is Rhea
Manjrekar from Hicksville. Mrs.
India New York 2016 is Nishtha
Chadda of NYC.

A tribute was paid at the
pageant to Bollywood star
Zeenat Aman who was
present in person.

4

December 10-16, 2016

John Glenn, the
1st American to
orbit Earth, dies
Washington: John Glenn,
whose 1962 flight as the
first US astronaut to
orbit the Earth made him
an all‑American hero and
propelled him to a long
career in the U.S. Senate,
died Thursday. The last
survivor of the original
Mercury 7 astronauts
was 95.
Glenn
died
in
Columbus, Ohio, where
he was hospitalized for
more than a week, said
Hank Wilson, communi‑
cations director for the
John Glenn School of
Public Affairs.
Before he gained fame orbiting the world he was a fighter
pilot in two wars, and as a test pilot he set a transcontinental
speed record. He later served 24 years in the Senate from
Ohio. A rare setback was a failed 1984 run for the Democratic
presidential nomination.
His long political career enabled him to return to space in
the shuttle Discovery at age 77 in 1998, a cosmic victory lap
that he relished and turned into a teachable moment about
growing old. He holds the record for the oldest person in
space.

Tourists stranded in
Andamans, Indian
Navy to the rescue
Port Blair: The Navy has sent four ships to
help evacuate 800 tourists stranded at
Havelock Islands in the Andamans because
of heavy rain. After the rain left hundreds
of tourists stranded, the administration
called the Navy early Wednesday morning.
The sudden evacuation mission was initi‑
ated at the request of the Andaman and
Nicobar disaster management, which specu‑
lates that a "cyclonic storm" might struck
Havelock, an island about 40 km from the
state capital Port Blair.
"There is a deep depression (in the sea)
about 310 kms from Port Blair. That is why
the Navy was contacted as we don't want to
take any chances," an of ficial from
Directorate of Disaster Management, told
IANS.
The of ficial said that because of heavy
rain and winds, the dif ficulty tourists are
facing is to reach the jetty to board the
ships. The tourists are to be ferried from
the Havelock Islands to Port Blair.
"We can't say as of now that the depres‑
sion will turn into a cyclone," he said.
They expect the evacuation to be com‑
pleted by the evening, he said.
Navy ships NS Bitra, Bangaram, Kumbhir
and LCU 38 have left for Havelock, say offi‑
cials. A popular tourist destination known
for its beaches, Havelock is the largest in
the chain of islands that form the Ritchie's
Archipelago and belongs to the Andamans.

47 killed as Pakistan plane crashes
Islamabad: A Pakistani plane car‑
rying 47 passengers and crew on a
domest ic flig ht to Islamabad
crashed
in
the
Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa province, killing all
aboard.
The Civil Aviation Authority con‑
firmed there were no survivors,
said Dawn newspaper, adding 36
bodies had been recovered from
the site. The passengers on the
small plane operated by the state‑

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

TURN PAGE

run Pakistan International Airlines
(PIA) included noted "Vital Signs"
singer‑turned‑evangelist Junaid
Jamshed and his family, Chitral
Deputy Commissioner Osama
Warraich, and three foreigners
including a Chinese man, Dawn
said.
It said the aircraft crashed on
way to Islamabad from the north‑
ern town of Chitral after losing
contact with the air traffic control.

Citing global aviation watchdog
Aviation Herald, the newspaper
reported that the plane went down
near Abbottabad "due to engine
problems".
Soldiers and army helicopters
were mobilized to rush to the
crash site.
PIA spokesperson Daniyal Gilani
said the plane had 42 passengers,
including nine women and two
infants, and five crew members.

US designates India as ʻMajor Defense Partnerʼ'
Continued from page 1
and "our shared desire for peace and prosperity in the Asia Pacific and
Indian Ocean region", the two leaders reflected on "the convergence of
interests that have driven the strategic and technological `handshakesʼ
between the two nations, and led to historic progress in our bilateral
relationship", the statement said.
India and the US have moved closer in defense cooperation in the
recent years. The agreements between the two countries includes the
signing of a Defense Framework Agreement in 2015, which laid out a
blueprint for collaboration between the defense establishments and
enabled deeper cooperation.
"Joint exchange opportunities ‑‑ in both personnel and training exercis‑
es ‑‑ have expanded and strengthened our bilateral cooperation. The
recent signing of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement
(LEMOA) has facilitated additional opportunities for practical engage‑
ment and exchange," the statement said.
Parrikar and Carter also applauded the deepened scope of India‑US
military‑to‑military ties, which includes increase in defense trade.

ʻFor God's sake, do your jobʼ
Continued from page 1
the house, then I don't think our parliamentary system can be every
effective.... Freedoms should not be misused by disruption. Only minori‑
ties come to the well and disrupt," he commented. On Wednesday, anoth‑
er veteran, LK Advani, snapped in parliament and did not spare his own
government as he told Minister Ananth Kumar in the house: "Who is run‑
ning the house? Neither the Speaker, nor the minister..."

Tamil Naduʼs Iron Lady leaves a void
Continued from page 1
and the polity a long time to fill the void left by her death at 68 after a
long hospitalization. DMKʼs Karunanidhi, her long‑term rival, is himself
ailing. Though O. Panneerselvam has been administered the oath of
Chief Minister, he is not considered a strong leader. Actually, Jayalalithaa
ruled the state with a strong hand and did not let a second line of leaders
develop in her party.

23 nations celebrate release of Diwali stamp at UN
Continued from page 1
to the UN Syed Akbaruddin said at the Dec 5 event that the Diwali
Forever Stamp is a "shining tribute to the celebration of multi‑cultural‑
ism." The event lauded the efforts of Ranju Batra, Chair of the Diwali
Stamp Project, who spearheaded efforts for years to get the stamp hon‑
oring Diwali festival issued last month.

The SATimes is Media Partner for PBD‑2017
Continued from page 1
Government of Karnataka will also feature the development & invest‑
ment opportunities in their state.
New York‑based The South Asian Times and its sister publication, The
Asian Era, will showcase the publications at the Main Exhibit Area, and
will make hard copies of the special editions available to over 20,000
expected visitors. The South Asian Times was previously associated with
PBD‑2009 in Chennai & PBD‑2011 in New Delhi.

Jaipur (India) Bureau
Prakash Bhandari
Prakash@TheSouthAsianTimes.info
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Kamlesh C. Mehta

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Contributing Editors: Meenakshi Iyer,
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Dr Akshat Jain, Ashok Ojha

President: Arjit Mehta

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arun.kumar@ians,in

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TheSouthAsianTimes.info

TRISTATE COMMUNITY

about Indians abroad, India and India‑
US developments, and the voice of
Indian Americans. Besides New York, it
had published editions in Canada and
Britain.
Raju sold the newspaper in 2001 to
Rediff, a Mumbai‑based publicly trad‑
ed company.
The newspaper, which once had a
circulation of over 60,000, has seen a
steady decline. In the October postal
declaration, the circulation was shown
as less than 18,000. Its full‑time news
staf f based in the US has shrunk to
four after a series of layoffs and it was
produced in India.
On its website, 8K Miles Media Group
describes itself as an "umbrella Media
Holding aiming to consolidate highly
fragmented South Asian Indian media
market." Its board chairman is Suresh
Venkatachari, a technology entrepre‑
neur who has founded four companies.
He is currently the CEO of 8K Miles, a
Silicon Valley technology company.
(IANS)

5

Akbar Restaurant to
pay $310K to settle
underpayment suit

India Abroad weekly
changes hands, sold
to 8K Miles Media
New York: India Abroad, the oldest
cont inuously published Indian‑
American newspaper, has been sold by
Redif f to 8K Miles Media, a company
that publishes a Tamil magazine in
Silicon Valley and runs a multilingual
radio service, according to an editor's
note in the newspaper.
Without any details of the transac‑
tion, the unsigned farewell note from
the Rediff management's editors in the
latest issue said tersely, "Redif f.com
hands over the torch to 8K Miles
Media." Nikhil Lakshman was the
Editor‑in‑Chief and Aziz Hanif fa the
Editor.
Sunil Adam, the former Editor of
News India Times weekly newspaper in
New York City, who had worked at
India Abroad before Redif f bought it,
will edit India Abroad under 8K Miles
Media management.
No public filings about the transac‑
tion with regulators or markets could
be found.
India Abroad newspaper was found‑
ed in 1970 by the late Indian American
media entrepreneur and publisher
Gopal Raju and emerged as the inde‑
pendent American chronicler of news

December 10-16, 2016

New York: Akbar
Restaurant, a high‑end
Indian restaurant in
Garden City, has agreed
to pay $310,000 to set‑
tle U.S. Department of
Labor charges that it
willfully underpaid 24
workers and retaliated
against an employee
who refused to sign an
af fidavit w ith “false
statements,” the depart‑
ment
announced
Wednesday. It was the
restaurantʼs second set‑
tlement. Akbar, which
bills itse lf as Long
Akbar Restaurant, Long Island (Image courtesy: newsday.com)
Islandʼs first Indian
restaurant, is charged in the latest case with between July 31, 2012, and March 2016,
paying dishwashers, kitchen staff, servers and court documents state. In a settlement a
bussers a fixed amount each week, even when defendant neither denies nor admits guilt.
Owner Meena Chopra, who is named in the
they worked 60 to 70 hours in the period,
court documents show. They were not paid settlement, said that employees only worked
overtime. The flat rates resulted in the work‑ 70‑hour weeks three to four times a year. But
ers being paid less than the $7.25 federal she conceded that she lacked the bookkeeping
hourly minimum wage. The kitchen workers records to prove it. “We are now fully compli‑
and dishwashers, for example, were paid a set ant with our payroll,” Chopra said. “I am glad
salary of $400 to $600 a week, the court that it has worked out well between the
papers say. The alleged violations took place department and myself.”

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6

December 10-16, 2016

TRISTATE COMMUNITY

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

New York Psychiatrist NJ Leadership Program opens applications
for 2017 Summer Fellowship
named to community
services board
Staten Island, NY: New York
City Mayor Bill de Blasio has
appointed Dr. Pankaj Patel as
one of the 15 members of the
Community Services Board.
According to SILive.com, the
panel is responsible for advis‑
ing the Department of Health
and Mental Hygiene in areas
related to the city's communi‑
ty mental health and sub‑
stance use treatment services.
"Today we're taking another
step forward in our efforts to
destigmatizing mental illness
and ensuring that best prac‑
tices are put in place to help
our fellow New Yorkers," said
the mayor, when he an‑
nounced the appointments
late last month.
Patel is a psychiatrist and
chairman of the Department
of Psychiatry and Behavioral
Health Sciences at Richmond
University Medical Center.
"I'm honored to be selected by

Dr Pankaj Patel
Mayor de Blasio to serve on
the
Community
Services
Board. I'm grateful for the
recognition of my over 30
years of work in this field, but
also for the opportunity to
work with other stakeholders
from the Staten Island com‑
munity," the Indian American
said.

Jersey City, NJ: The New Jersey Lead‑
ership Program (NJLP) announced the
opening of its application for the NJLP
2017 Summer Fellowship Program.
The Fellowship Program aims to ex‑
pose South Asian youth in New Jersey
to local government and politics. The
Fellowship Program is a six‑week pro‑
gram in which students of South Asian
descent ranging from middle school
through college will be placed in a full
time internship with their local May‑
orʼs Office, State Legislator or the Gov‑
ernorʼs Office. In addition to the in‑
ternship, fellows also take part in a
leadership component which includes
a weekly speakership series, network‑
ing events, career development work‑
shops and fields trips.
“We hope that by gaining experience
in their local government, South Asian
youth will go back to their respective
schools and realize that they too can be
government officials or elected repre‑
sentatives in the future,” said NJLP
President Amit Jani.
Applications for the fellowship pro‑
gram are currently being accepted on
a rolling basis through February 17,
2017. Interested candidates can apply

Leaders engaged in Diversity Program as part of the fellowship
at www.njlead.org. “The hope is to
build off our launch year for the NJLP
Summer Fellowship Program this past
summer, which was very successful
and far surpassed our expectations,”
said NJLP Vice President Amman
Seehra. “We clearly saw a demand with
our our first class of fellows and the
additional applications we received
from the South Asian community
throughout New Jersey, we hope to
continue meeting this demand and
training the next generation of leaders
in our state.” The NJLP held its first fel‑
lowship program this past summer,
hosting ten fellows who ranged in age
and were based throughout the state.
Internship placements included the Of‑

fice of Community Relations within
Governor Chris Christieʼs Office, sever‑
al state senators and assembly people,
as well as the office of South River
Councilman Ryan Jones. The fellows
also heard from multiple elected offi‑
cials, senior government staffers, busi‑
ness leaders and nonprofit executives
during their weekly speakership series.
Speakers included Congressman Frank
Pallone, Jr., Assemblyman Raj Mukher‑
ji, Chief of Staff to Congressman
Pascrell Assad Akhter, Chief Executive
Officer of the Newark Boys and Girls
Club Kavita Mehra, and many more.
More information about the NJLP
Summer Fellowship Program can be
found at www.njlead.org.

Pramukh Swami Maharajʼs 96th birthday celebrated in Surat
Surat: A 11‑day celebration on the
occasion of Pramukh Swami Ma‑
harajʼs 96th birthday was held at
Swaminarayan Nagar, Surat, Gu‑
jarat. For ten days, the 400‑acre
celebration site became an attrac‑
tion for all eyes primarily because
of the extraordinary exhibitions
and evening cultural programs. The
cultural village was the creation of
volunteers from all over India –
18,000 male and female volunteers
offered their services day and
night.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj passed
away on August 13, 2016, in
Sarangpur. Volunteers put in their
best to pay homage to their beloved
guru in the creation of the cultural
village. The festival hosted over 1.5
million visitors as well as 60,000
students and 2,000 teachers from
125 schools. The festival ground in‑
cluded a large entrance gate, a
grand Mandir made from fiberglass
and eight exhibitions showcasing
Indian culture, heritage and values.
Each evening, a spectacular light
and sound show on the mandir it‑
self revealed the social and spiritu‑

The Government of India paid tributes by releasing postage stamps of
Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Swaminarayan Akshardham.
al significance of mandirs in our
modern world. The 11‑day celebra‑
tion also featured a womenʼs cul‑
tural program, blood donation
camp as well as an anti‑addiction
drive. During the celebration, 44
youths were initiated into sadhu‑
fold. The culmination of the festiv‑
ities was the celebration of Pra‑
mukh Swami Maharajʼs 96th birth‑
day on December 7, 2016. The pro‑
grams focused on Pramukh Swami
Maharajʼs grand and divine social

and spiritual works. Through skits,
video shows, cultural dances and
speeches, the program portrayed
Swamijiʼs tireless travels for the up‑
lift of mankind, creation of mandirs
like Swaminarayan Akshardham
and disaster‑relief programs con‑
ducted by BAPS.
The birthday celebration was a
celebration of his life and work as a
humble servant of society who
spent his life using the power of his
inner goodness to lift others up.

The festival hosted over 1.5 million visitors as well as 60,000 students and
2,000 teachers from 125 schools.
The birthday celebration was also
unique in itself. The date (Decem‑
ber 7), day (Wednesday), Tithi as
per Hindu calendar (Magsar Sud
atham) and Nakshetra at the time
of his birth in 1921 matched exact‑
ly that day.
The Chief Minister of Gujarat, Vi‑
jay Rupani, praised the personality
of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and his
mammoth contributions for the
welfare of Gujarat. He also an‑
nounced that the upcoming Inter‑

national sports stadium in Palanpur
area of Surat would be named as
Pramukh Swami International Sta‑
dium. Amitbhai Shah, President of
BJP, spoke glowingly about how he
had experienced peace whenever
he met Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
To commemorate the universal
works of Pramukh Swami Maharaj,
the Government of India paid trib‑
utes by releasing postage stamps of
Pramukh Swami Maharaj and
Swaminarayan Akshardham.

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

NATIONAL COMMUNITY

December 10-16, 2016

7

Arun Jaitley must extend cut-off
First Sikh receives FBIʼs
date to deposit banned notes: GOPIO Community Leadership Award

Washington, DC: Describing the
demonetization move as a "bold
decision", a global body for people
of Indian‑origin has asked Finance
Minister Arun Jaitley to extend by
six months the cut‑of f date for
depositing the banned notes of Rs
500 and Rs 1,000 denominations.
The Global Organization of People
of Indian‑Origin (GOPIO) in a recent
letter said it has been flooded by
concerns from a large number of
NRIs and PIO after the recent gov‑
ernment's decision to ban Rs 500
and Rs 1000 currency notes.
"It is a bold decision by Prime
Minister Modi and we fully support
him," said GOPIO president Niraj
Baxi in his recent letter to Jaitley.
He said that some NRIs and PIOs
have left over cash from their previ‑
ous visits to India, while others have
used currency exchanges and banks
to obtain the rupees abroad for use
on their future trip to India.
Many NRIs and PIOs have kept
these notes for a while so as to use
them on their return to India in the
future. Some have used less time
consuming means of obtaining cur‑
rencies from online money
exchanges to take back to India,
said a media statement issued by

GOPIO in a recent letter said
it has been flooded by concerns from a large number
of NRIs and PIO after the
recent government's
decision to ban Rs 500 and
Rs 1000 currency notes

GOPIO. "NRIs and PIOs should be
allowed to exchange whatever
amount they have as long as they
show the proof of past conversion
of foreign currency to Indian cur‑
rency in the last 10 years," said
T homas Abraham, chairman of
GOPIO International.
In the letter, GOPIO requested the
Indian Government to extend the
cut‑off date by six months, as many
cannot return to India by the end of
December, 2016; and of fer PIO's
with business and other income in
India be similar deals as for resi‑
dents (deposit up to Rs 2,50,000).
It also urged Jaitley to assist the
PIO's living abroad by providing an
avenue to cash or exchange the Rs
500 and Rs 1,000 denomination
notes held by them for travelling to
India and increase the limit for
exchange to Rs 25,000 when they
(PTI)
arrive at the airports.

Norwich,CT: Swaranjit Singh
Khalsa President of Sikh Sewak
So ciety Internat ional USA
became first Sikh of United
States to achieve FBI Directorʼs
Community Leadership Award.
Swaranjit Singh Khalsa came
to the city of Norwich in 2010,
not long after finishing up grad‑
uate school in New Jersey.
He is also serving as a
Member in Commission of City
Planning and has his own real
estate and Gas station business.
He also held first Sikh aware‑
ness day in Connecticut, right at
his station.
Dozens of people ̶ local resi‑
dents, police officers, historians
̶ showed up.
That, he said, was the "ice‑
breaker." “That was the start of
my interaction with the commu‑
nity,” he said. “After that, people
were coming in, helping out,
asking me to tell them more
about my religion and where I
came from.”
An award he received
Wednesday at the 10th annual
Interfaith Spiritual Wellness

Swaranjit Singh Khalsa recognized by FBI with award for working
against hate crime on Sikhs by educating fellow Americans.
Fair ̶ the FBI Directorʼs
Community Leadership Award
̶ symbolizes how far‑reaching
his ef forts have been in the
years since.
T he recognition is granted
yearly to 56 people ̶ one for

each of the FBIʼs field offices.
In April, he w ill trave l to
Washington, D.C., where he'll
receive a tour of FBI headquar‑
ters and w ill be ce le brated
along w ith the other award
recipients during a ceremony.

Indian Embassy to hold open house on visa‑related issues
Washington, DC: T he Indian
Embassy in Washington and its five
consulates in the US will hold an
open house every fortnight start‑
ing from January to address the
grievances of people on issues
re lated to visa, passport and
Overseas Citizens of India (OCI)
card.
"I would like to announce an ini‑
tiative today. We would institute
from the first week of January next
year an open house in the Indian
Embassy," Indian Ambassador to
the US Navtej Sarna, said at a
reception held in his honor by top
Indian‑American community
org anizat ions
of
g reater
Washington DC area.
Addressing several hundred
Indian‑Americans from in and
around Washington DC, Maryland
and Virginia, Sarna said "the Open
House would be held every fort‑
night wherein people with their

Ambassador Navtej Sarna (right) at the reception held by the Indian
community of Greater Washington DC area in his honor and to bid
goodbye to Deputy Chief of Mission Amb. Tarantjit Singh Sandhu.
grievances related to passports,
visas and OCI cards can simply
walk in and the senior embassy
officials would address them."
"We would put out on the web‑
site once a fortnight, a designated
day and a time where somebody
who may have put in his papers
and is not getting a response;
somebody who actually have a par‑

ticular problem which he wants to
come and discuss with some body
at the Embassy; somebody who is
facing a problem in communica‑
tion; somebody who does not have
a paper for OCI, but still wants to
have it; they would be able to come
and we will have the our senior
officers and the nodal officers will
meet them and attend to their

problem," he said.
"We will also institute a similar
arrangement in all our consulates
in the United States," the Indian
Ambassador said.
His announcement was we l‑
comed by the community leaders
present at the reception, who also
felicitated the outgoing Deputy
Indian Ambassador Taranjit Singh
Sand hu, who now heads to
Colombo as the Indian Hig h
Commissioner to Sri Lanka.
In his second stint to the Indian
Embassy in Washington DC, Sarna
acknowledged that problem per‑
sists despite best of the efforts and
improvement in the system.
"I know one place where we
always go wrong is passport, visa,
OCI. No matter, how, where we do,
we outsource it, we monitor it and
this is the nature of the beast,
nobody's fault... no matter how effi‑
cient the machinery is this is ulti‑

mately a human error... there will
always be a problem when you
rang and nobody picked up the
phone," he said.
"When you actually send the
passport and for some reason they
are stuck in the post, where you
actually wanted to use the elec‑
tronic visa system, and they did not
accept your card.
"These happens, because these
are new systems. These are being
put through the teething problems.
They need to be improved upon. In
a couple of years, I can assure you
will laugh at these problems," he
said. In his remarks, Sandhu high‑
lig hted the role of the Indian
American community in strength‑
ening India US relationship.
Among other things, he stressed
on the need to involve second gen‑
eration Indian Americans in com‑
munity activities and strengthen‑
(PTI)
ing India US ties.

8

December 10-16, 2016

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

NATIONAL COMMUNITY

Indian American High School kids sweep Siemens 2016 Competition
Washington, DC: Indian American high school
students swept the top prizes at the 2016
Siemens Competition in Math, Science and
Technology Dec. 6 in Washington, D.C.
Vineet Edupuganti, of Portland, Ore., was
the winner in the individual category for
developing a biodegradable battery that can
power ingestible medical devices that can
track and diagnose conditions that af fect
internal organs.
Identical twin sisters Adhya and Shriya
Beesam, of Richardson, Texas, won top honors
in the team category for their work develop‑
ing a new approach to diagnose schizophre‑
nia earlier in patients with higher certainty
using both brain scans and psychiatric evalu‑
ations. For earning the top spots at the com‑
petitionʼs national finals held at The George
Washington University, Edupuganti won a
$100,000 scholarship and the Beesam twins
won a scholarship of the same value to share.
The trio of top winners were chosen from a
national finals group of 19 students, which
came from an original pool of more than
2,000 students.
“This yearʼs Siemens Competition winners,
Vineet, Adhya and Shriya, have demonstrated
a drive and creativity that is truly awesome,”
Siemens Foundation chief executive David
Etzwiler said in a statement. “These scholars
are poised to transform the lives of millions
around the globe by helping us advance med‑

The Beesam twins won in team category

Vineet Edupuganti won $100,000
scholarship (Image : businesswire.com)

ical knowledge and technologies designed to
diagnose and treat various diseases. I cannot
wait to see where their dedication and inno‑
vative thinking will lead them and the rest of
us as well.”
Edupuganti, a senior at Oregon Episcopal
School in Portland, won for his project,
“Deve lopment of a High‑Performance
Biodegradable Battery for Transient

Electronics.”
His work could simplify how medical practi‑
tioners diagnose conditions that affect inter‑
nal organs, Siemens said in a news release.
The Beesams, juniors at Plano East Senior
High School in Plano, Texas, won for their
project, “Linked Neuro‑Fuzzy Inference
System: A Novel Approach to Schizophrenia
Diagnosis.” The Indian American twins dedi‑

US groups pay tributes
to Jayalalithaa
New York: The American Tamil Sangam (ATS)
and the US Friends of AIADMK (USFAIADMK)
have paid tributes to the late Tamil Nadu Chief
Minister J. Jayalalithaa. "Struggle was her mid‑
dle name and victory was her last name," ATS
President Prakash Swamy said in a statement.
Recalling the various adversitites she had
faced, he said: "Her path was strewn with
thorns and rocks but she overcame all with
her unmatched grit and determination."
USFAIADMK President Koshy O. Thomas
said Tamils all over the world have lost a
leader who was a mother to them. "We have
become orphans and no words can console
us," he added.
ATS Chairman John Joseph called
Jayalalithaa's welfare programs, especially for
women and students, and said she was a
charismatic leader.
Earlier ATS and USFAIADMK had he ld
prayers for Jayalalithaa's recovery at the
Saneeswarar Temple in the city that was
attended by Hindus and Christians.
In 2011, Hillary Clinton, who was then the
Secretary of State, met Jayalalithaa at her
office in Fort St. George in Chennai. A press
release issued at that time said that they had
discussed the problems of Sri Lankan Tamil
refugees and social welfare programs. (IANS)

cated themselves to researching better ways
to diagnose schizophrenia after watching an
uncle struggle with mental illness and several
misdiagnoses before being diagnosed with
schizophrenia, according to Siemens.
After they lost their uncle to suicide, they
were driven by the desire to help others be
more quickly diagnosed and access better
mental health treatment earlier, and taught
themselves about schizophrenia and methods
of diagnosing this illness.
They developed a computer program that
would analyze the results of both quantitative
(MRI) tests and qualitative tests (psychiatric
evaluation by a professional, known as
Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale),
Siemens added.
“Without any mentors or special access,
Adhya and Shriya Beesam showed extreme
resourcefulness as they taught themselves
the scientific literature related to schizophre‑
nia, clinical methods and machine learning
algorithms,” said University of Houston pro‑
fessor and chair at the electrical and comput‑
er engineering departments Badrinath
Roysam in a statement.
Other Indian American students among the
finalists were Manan Shah of Los Altos, Calif.;
Prateek Kalakuntla of Plano, Texas; and
Pranav Sivakumar of Tower Lakes, Ill.; in the
individual competition; and Nikhil Cheerla
and Anika Cheerla in the team category.

Sri Chinmoy's birth anniversary Indian-American sued by US govt
cake sets Guinness record
for Medicare fraud
Sri Chinmoyʼs
followers
lighting the
candles for
the Guinness
World Record
attempt

New York: A new Guinness World
Record has been set in the US for
most candles on a birthday cake ‑
where a staggering 72,585 candles
were lit on the occasion of late Indi‑
an spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy's
85th birth anniversary.
Chinmoy Kumar Ghose, better
known as Sri Chinmoy, taught medi‑
tation in the West after moving to
New York City in 1964.
Taking place at the Sri Chinmoy
Centre in New York, a team of 100
people worked together to make the
cake, individually place each candle
and then light them with 60 blow‑

torches. The candles remained burn‑
ing for about 40 seconds, ensuring
that the previous record went up in
flames. The sponge cake was filled
with vanilla mousse and created in
the shape of a huge rectangle meas‑
uring 80.5 feet long and two feet
wide. There were far too many can‑
dles for anyone to blow out in the tra‑
ditional manner, so the candles were
put out with carbon dioxide fire ex‑
tinguishers to ensure that the dessert
was still edible afterwards.
The wax was then scraped off and
the party tucked into the enormous
cake.

Washington, DC: An Indian‑American owner of a
diagnostic firm has been sued by the US government
on charges of knowingly submitting false claims to a
state‑run insurance company for thousands of test‑
ing services he did not render.
Vijay Patel, 59, of New Jersey who owns and oper‑
ates a Mobile Diagnostic Testing, pleaded guilty in
2014 to a criminal information charging him with
health care fraud related to this conduct.
The civil complaint filed yesterday alleged Patel
violated the False Claims Act, the Department of
Justice said. According to court documents, from
August 2011 through December 2012, Patel and the
cardiologist defrauded Medicare ‑‑ national social
insurance program, administered by the US federal
government ‑‑ by submitting claims for diagnostic
testing services that the doctor had performed from
December 2010 to September 2012. This enabled
him to evade Medicare's prepayment review. Patel
submitted the cardiologist's claims through his com‑
pany and his brother's company Biosound Medical
Services Inc. (Biosound), as if Mobile Diagnostic and
Biosound had performed the services instead of the
doctor. Once Patel received the Medicare reimburse‑
ment money paid to the two companies for diagnos‑
tic testing services the cardiologist had performed,
Patel transferred a portion of the payment to the
doctor and kept a substantial portion for himself,
federal prosecutors alleged.

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

NATIONAL COMMUNITY

December 10-16, 2016

9

United by fear, US Muslims and Jews join hands
New York: Jolted into action by a wave of
hate crimes that followed the election victo‑
ry of Donald J. Trump, American Muslims
and Jews are banding together in a surpris‑
ing new alliance.
They are putting aside for now their divi‑
sions over Israel to join forces to resist
whatever may come next. New groups are
forming, and interfaith coalitions that
already existed say interest is increasing.
Vaseem Firdaus, a Muslim who has lived
in the United States for 42 years, spent
Friday night at a Shabbat dinner for mem‑
bers of a womenʼs g roup called the
Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, in a home
here filled with Jewish art and ritual
objects.
Until Mr. Trump was elected president,
Ms. Firdaus, who is 56 and a manufacturing
manager at Exxon Mobil, felt secure living
as a Muslim in America. She has a daughter
who is a doctor and a son who is an engi‑
neer, and she recently traveled to Tampa
with her husband looking to buy a vacation
home. But Mr. Trumpʼs victory has shaken
her sense of comfort and security.
After joining in blessings over home‑
baked challah and sparkling grape juice
(instead of wine, out of consideration for
the Muslims), Ms. Firdaus talked with four
Jewish women she had never met before,
balancing plates of Indian food on their
laps. They found that the spate of hate
crimes and the ominous talk by Mr. Trump

or his advisers about barring Muslims from
entering the country and registering those
living here had caused all of them to think
about Germany in the years before the
Holocaust.
“W hen did you know it was time to
leave?” Ms. Firdaus asked one woman who
had just recounted how her relatives had
fled the Nazis. “The ones that didnʼt leave
are the ones who went to Auschwitz.”
The Jewish women tried to convince her
that they would not let it come to that. “If
Muslims have to register, weʼre all going to
register,” said Mahela Morrow‑Jones, who
is helping to build the first West Coast
chapter of the Sisterhood in Santa Barbara,
Calif. Groups are reaching out not just to
clergy members, but also to laypeople,
including business executives, students and
women. Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief
executive of the Anti‑Defamation League,
said in a recent interview: “Jews know what
it means to be identified and tagged, to be
registered and pulled aside. It evokes very
deep emotions in the Jewish community.”
Mr. Greenblatt received a standing ova‑
tion when he declared at his organizationʼs
conference in Manhattan last month that if
Muslims were ever forced to register, “that
is the day that this proud Jew will register
as a Muslim.”
“All of us have heard the story of the
Danish king who said if his countryʼs Jews
had to wear a gold star,” he said, “all of

Denmark would, too.” Nearly 500 Muslim
and Jewish women, many wearing head
scarves and skullcaps, gathered on Sunday
at Drew University in Madison, N.J., in what
organizers said was the largest such meet‑
ing ever held in the United States. It was the
third annual conference of the Sisterhood
of Salaam Shalom, a grass‑roots group that
now claims 50 chapters in more than 20
states. The first conference two years ago
drew only 100 people.
Over lunch and in the hallways, they trad‑
ed stories about the latest ugly outbreaks
back home: a brick thrown through the
window of a Muslim‑owned restaurant in
Kansas, apartments of Muslim families in
Virg inia hit w ith eggs and g raf fit i,
swastikas scrawled on synagogues and in a
playground in New York. Sisterhood chap‑
ters keep track of the incidents on their
Facebook pages and other social media.
“Ignorance is one of the key triggers of
hate,” said Sheryl Olitzky, the groupʼs exec‑
utive director, in her opening remarks. “We
need to show the world that we are
Americans. We are here because we love
each other and weʼre overcoming hate.”
Ms. Olitzky, a marketing executive whose
husband and two sons are rabbis, started
the first Sisterhood womenʼs meeting in
New Jersey six years ago on the theory that
“women navigate the world through rela‑
tionships.” She baked the challah and host‑
ed the Shabbat dinner on Friday night at

her home.
The Sisterhood is one of several groups
expanding their work on Muslim‑Jewish
re lat ions: T he Foundat ion for E thnic
Understanding started an initiative to ele‑
vate Muslim condemnations of terrorism,
which are often ignored by the news media.
The Anti‑Defamation League is increasing
its work against anti‑Muslim bigotry.
“Itʼs the Trump e f fect,” said Imam
Abdullah Antepli, the chief representative
on Muslim affairs at Duke University, who
attended the womenʼs conference with his
wife. “I see the Muslim community even
more eager to reach out and to put aside
the grievances of the past.”
The most prominent new initiative is a
Muslim‑Jewish Advisory Council whose co‑
chairmen are Fortune 500 chief executives:
Farooq Kathwari, of the furniture company
Ethan Allen, who is Muslim, and Stanley
Bergman, of the medical products distribu‑
tor Henry Schein, who is Jewish.
The council, which was forming as Mr.
Trumpʼs campaign was gaining steam,
includes both Democrats and Republicans.
It was created by leaders of the American
Jewish Committee and the Islamic Society
of North America in an effort to have influ‑
ence on public policy. The group intends to
oppose a registry, support immigrants and
refugees, and push for accommodating reli‑
gious practices in the workplace.
(Condensed from New York Times article)

Hewlett Packard & India Today
honor Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation
New York: Energized by its exemplary
success in providing literacy and inte‑
grated development in villages across
India, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation, two
years back introduced an innovative
digitized supplement to rural life to
speed up its integration into the main‑
stream.
Recently, Ekal was honored with the
“Digital Trailblazer Award” at the
Digital Conclave organized by Hewlett
Packard in association with India
Today Gr. for this unique initiative.
The event was held at the Radisson
Blue Hotel in Ranchi, Jharkhand on
October 21, 2016. Raghubar Das, the
Chief Minister of Jharkhand state pre‑
sented the award to Lalan Kumar
Sharma, Program Director of ʻEkal
Gramotthanʼ (village renaissance).
Several luminaries including C.P Singh,

the Minister for Urban Development,
Sunil Barnwal, Secretary, Information
Technology, Jharkhand state, Vivek
Modwal, Country Manager Hewlett
Packard and Arad hna Patnaik,
Secretary Educat ion and Human
Resource Development attended the
event.
Recently, Ekal had another occasion
to put a feather in its cap of achieve‑
ments. On Dec. 2, the US‑India
Chamber of Commerce of Dallas/Fort
Worth, TX conferred ʻLeadership in
Community Service Awardʼ on Ekal
Vidyalaya at their annual Award
Banquet.
Dr. Robert Kaplan, President and
CEO of Federal Reserve bank of Dallas
was the key‑note speaker and Anupam
Ray, Consul General of India (Houston)
was the Chief Guest.

Raghubar Das, the Chief Minister of Jharkhand state presented the award to Lalan Kumar Sharma,
Program Director of ʻEkal Gramotthanʼ

10

December 10-16, 2016

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

US AFFAIRS

LIFE IN THE TIME OF TRUMP
COMMENT

Let us not be too fearful
of Donald Trump.
Fortunately, this is a
country of laws. No US
President has ever run
amok over his people. The
checks and balances
system we have in this
country prevents such
unilateral behavior.
Besides, the initial moves
by Trump are mostly good.

By Shivaji Sengupta

I

attended a meeting of the Democrats in
a wealthy neighborhood of Suf folk
County, Long Island. Over lunch, the
attendees commiserated amongst each
other with a good bit of anti‑Trump dia‑
tribes mixed in. How can we as Americans
elect a man like him after an enlightened
intellectual like Barak Obama, many of
them asked, horrified.
During this exchange I was mostly quiet.
My fellow Democrats attending the meet‑
ing had known how hard I worked for a
Democratic candidate vying to unseat the
Congressman from District 1. She lost. So
when they looked at me, expecting that I,
too, would vent, I did.
But at Democrats. We are in a democracy,
I said. And it is democracy which elected
Donald Trump in a free and fair election. To
put it bluntly, WE chose Donald Trump. It is
futile to say, "No, I voted Democrat, I didn't
cast my ballot for Trump. He is not my
President!"
He may not be; but he is OUR President.
He got elected. We Democrats did not do
enough. That is the simple truth.
To ignore the fact that the white popula‑
tion is still 60% of the electorate, and to dis‑

miss them as "ignorant" and uneducated,
and therefore they do not count, was our
big mistake. They came out in droves and
voted for their candidate. We, in the face of
cold numbers, ignored them. That is a form
of arrogance, especially in a democracy. A
fundamental fact of democracy is you don't
ignore numbers. We did, and lost.
But all is not lost, I said to my Democrat
brethren. Let us get back to work, at the
grassroots level, in Long Island itself, let us
target the mid‑term election of 2018.

History has shown us that whenever one
party wins in the House, the Senate and the
Presidency, two years later they lose major‑
ity in the legislative elections. Before we
can elect a Democratic President again, let
us capture Congress.
Also, let us not be too fearful of Donald
Trump. Fortunately, this is a country of
laws. No President of the United States has
ever run amok over his people. The checks
and balances system we have in this coun‑
try prevents such unilateral behavior.

House GOP may split from
Trump over tariff threat
Washington:
House
Republican leaders signaled
on Monday that they would
not support President‑elect
Donald J. Trumpʼs threat to
impose a heavy tax on compa‑
nies that move jobs overseas,
the first significant confronta‑
tion over the conservative
economic orthodoxy that Mr.
Trump relishes trampling.
“I donʼt want to get into
some kind of trade war,”
Representative Kevin McCarthy,
Republican of California and
majority leader, told reporters in
response to Mr. Trumpʼs threats
over the weekend to seek a 35
percent import tarif f on goods
sold by US companies that move
jobs overseas and displace
American workers.
Speaker Paul D. Ryan also
pushed back against Trump on
Monday in an interview with a
Wisconsin reporter, saying an
overhaul of the corporate tax
code would more effectively keep
companies in America than tax
penalties. “I think we can get at
the goal here,” he said, “which is
to keep American businesses
American, build things in America
and sell them overseas ̶ that
can be properly addressed with
comprehensive tax reform.”

Kevin McCarthy, House majority
leader, opposed punishing com‑
panies that move jobs overseas.
Mr. Trumpʼs economic positions
clashed with traditional conserva‑
tives during the campaign, but
now these dif ferences ̶ on
trade, government spending on
infrastructure, and tax policies ̶
have set the incoming president
on a perilous course with the law‑
makers whose support he needs
to keep his agenda on track.
“There will be a tax on our
soon to be strong border of 35
percent for these companies
wanting to sell their product,
cars, A.C. units etc., back across
the border,” Mr. Trump said in a
series of Twitter messages over
the weekend.
The response from Republican

leaders underscored the lim‑
its of legislating 140 charac‑
ters at a time on Twitter, and
g ave Demo crats cause to
believe they can work with
Mr. Trump to outmaneuver
congressional Republicans
next year.
“The president‑elect won
in part by campaigning
against the Republican estab‑
lishment on many economic
issues,” said Senator Chuck
Schumer of New York, the incom‑
ing Democratic leader. “If he
wants to get something done for
working families in this country,
heʼll have to stand up to them
when it comes time to govern,
too.”
Mr. Trump first startled
Republicans during the campaign
when he attacked trade deals,
putting himself more in line with
Senator Bernie Sanders of
Vermont than Mr. Ryan.
He repeatedly insisted that
trade deals had displaced
American workers and harmed
the economy, upending two cen‑
turies of American economic poli‑
cies that held trade up as a good
thing, a position that Republicans
have pushed in recent decades.

Courtesy: NYT

Besides, the initial moves by Trump are
mostly good. General Mattis is by all counts
a good choice for the Secretary of Defense,
and Ben Carson is a sober man for HUD. On
Monday, Al Gore had a positive meeting
with Trump over environmental protection.
Even before Gore, Trump had told the New
York Times that he does take the environ‑
ment seriously, and he has backed away
from waterboarding. All these are good
signs.
Nevertheless, as an American I am still
worried about the repeal of the Affordable
Healthcare Act with Tim Price, a self‑
appointed enemy of the aforementioned
healthcare, as Secretary of Health.
Turning to foreign policy, it is too early to
tell how Trump will be toward India. All
those feel‑good noises he made toward our
native country during the campaign are
just that ‑‑ noises. Not to be believed. It is
not only premature, in fact it is silly, to
overly react to what he might have or have
not said to Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistani PM
over a routine telephone congratulatory
conversation. The fact that the Pakistani
government actually published the tran‑
script ‑ a highly unconventional act one
might add ‑‑ only points to that country's
nervousness regarding the President‑Elect.
Look at India's reaction to a similar Modi‑
Trump conversation: nothing.
That is what it should be.

Trump meets Al
Gore in NY
New York: Former US Vice President Al Gore on Monday held an
"interesting conversation" in New York with President‑elect Donald
Trump, but he offered no details about their meeting.
Initially, Gore had been scheduled to meet with Trump's daughter
Ivanka, to discuss environmental issues, official sources said, but upon
leaving the meeting he said that he had also met with the President‑
elect, EFE news reported.
"I had a lengthy and very productive session with the President‑
elect," Gore told reporters after meeting at Trump Tower with the real‑
estate mogul and his daughter. “I found it an extremely interesting
conversation, and to be continued.”
Gore, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 and is the US politi‑
cian who has been most active in defending the environment, served
as Vice President during Bill Clinton's 1993‑2001 presidency.

A Republican elector
wonʼt vote for Trump
New York: Christopher Suprun, a Republican elector from Texas,
announced in The New York Times on Monday that he would not cast
his vote for Donald Trump as President when the Electoral College
convenes ̶ and a group of academics and lawyers are trying to coax
more “faithless” electors to follow suit.
Suprun explained that the Electoral College is meant to determine if
candidates are qualified, not engaged in demagogy, and independent
from foreign influence. “Mr. Trump shows us again and again that he
does not meet these standards. Given his own public statements, it isnʼt
clear how the Electoral College can ignore these issues, and so it
should reject him.”
To give encouragement, and legal support, the Harvard Law School
professor Lawrence Lessig and the law firm Durie Tangri have teamed
up to start what they are calling the Electors Trust, offering free coun‑
sel to other electors pondering Suprunʼs route.

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

US AFFAIRS

December 10-16, 2016

11

Trump is Time person of the year
New York: Time Magazine named
President‑elect Donald Trump its
person of the year on
Wednesday, citing the upheaval
in American politics brought
about by the New York business‑
manʼs election campaign and vic‑
tory.
“Itʼs hard to measure the scale
of his disruption,” Time said in its
announcement, noting Trumpʼs
career as real estate magnate and
reality television star before he
won the presidency on November
8.
The Republican president‑elect,
who will be sworn in on January
20, ran an unconventional and
controversial campaign against
Democrat Hillary Clinton. Time
noted that views of him were
deeply divided. “For those who
believe this is all for the better,
Trumpʼs victory represents a
long‑overdue re buke to an
entrenched and arrogant govern‑
ing class,” the magazine said.
“For those who see it as for the
worse, the destruction extends to
cherished norms of civility and
discourse, a politics poisoned by
vile streams of racism, sexism,
nativism.” The magazine said its
short list for person of the year
included Clinton, Turkish
President Tayyip Erdogan and

TRUMP EFFECT:
SoftBank will invest
$50 billion in US,
create 50,000 jobs

singer Beyonce. “Itʼs a great
honor, it means a lot,” Trump told
NBCʼs “To day” show. But he
rejected Timeʼs characterization
of the country as fractured.
The magazineʼs cover called

him the “president of the divided
states of America.” “I didnʼt divide
them, theyʼre divided now,” he
told NBC. “Weʼre going to put it
back together.” He added: “I think
putting ʻdividedʼ is snarky.”

New York: Donald Trump said
Monday that Japan's SoftBank
has agreed to invest $50 billion
in the US, aiming to create
50,000 jobs. He announced the
deal after meet ing w ith
SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, a
Japanese billionaire and tech‑
nolog y investor, at Trump
Tower in New York. On Twitter,
Trump claimed that Son said he
"would never do this" if Trump
had not won the presidential
election.
But the $50 billion will come
from a previously announced
$100 billion internat ional
investment fund set up with
Saudi Arabia, according to Dow
Jones.
SoftBank owns about 80 per‑
cent of telecom company Sprint
and bought British chipmaker
ARM Holdings earlier this year.
Son told reporters in New York

that he arranged the meeting
with Trump and likes him "very
much."
The pair did not give details
on what specific investments
SoftBank would make, though
Son suggested the Japanese
company would target the tech‑
nology sector.
Sprint and T‑Mobile shares
popped after the news, but gave
up most of those gains. Son has
previously expressed interest in
combining the companies, hop‑
ing to take on larger rivals, but
he has faced regulatory resist‑
ance.
The paperwork from Trump's
meeting with SoftBank also fea‑
tured the logo of Foxconn, also
known as Hon Hai, a supplier
for Apple's iPhones, Son noted.
It was unclear what role the
company would play in the
deal.

12

December 10-16, 2016

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

INDIA

Black money will be banished Hackers operated
Rahul, Congress
by year‑end: Amit Shah
Twitters from 5

New Delhi: BJP President Amit Shah
rubbished charges of illegalities in the
party's land deals prior to the demone‑
tization decision and asserted that by
2016‑end, the country will become
free of black money.
"The opposition parties are pointing
fingers at the land deals by the
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), but these
deals were authorized in January
2015 only," said Shah speaking at the
'Agenda Aaj Tak' event here.
"In January 2015, we had
announced to have party offices in all
the districts of the country, and these
land deals are in pursuance of that
announcement only," said Shah
The party purchased land across the
country at 170 locations between
January 2015 and November 2016, he
added. Opposition parties have alleged
the BJP had prior information about
demonetisation and the land deals
were done to turn black money into
white.
West Bengal Chief Minister and
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata
Banerjee on Monday demanded a judi‑
cial probe into the BJP's land deals.
Earlier, the CPI‑M in Parliament
raised the issue, pointing to deposit of
"huge amounts of money in banks" on
November 8, ahead of Prime Minister
Narendra Modi announcing in the

countries

BJP President Amit Shah.
evening the decision to demonetise Rs
500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.
Shah asserted that the allegations of
the opposition were baseless.
"The deposit of money in the bank
accounts is a mere coincidence.
Moreover, the opposition should try to
think logically. Why we would deposit
money on November 8 and raise suspi‑
cion? This is nothing but a mere coin‑

cidence," said Shah. "Earlier, the oppo‑
sition used to ask Modi what have you
done to bring black money back. And
now, post‑demonetization, the opposi‑
tion is crying why you did this, Modi,"
said Shah, ridiculing the opposition.
Talking about demonetization, the
BJP President said it is a historic deci‑
sion, and asserted that the economy
will get rid of black money.

New Delhi: The Cyber Cell of Delhi Police said the
Twitter accounts of the Congress party and its Vice
President Rahul Gandhi, hacked a few days back,
were operated from five different countries.
This information was provided by Twitter, a senior
police official said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Cyber Crime)
Anyesh Roy told IANS: "The countries identified are
Sweden, Romania, the US, Canada and Thailand. The
Delhi Police Cyber Cell received information on a mail
from Twitter about the IP addresses used by the sus‑
pects."
"We have tracked some of the IP addresses and are
trying to trace the suspects who used them... We are
verifying them online and through other methods."
The Cyber Cell had approached the officials from
Twitter headquarters to assist it in investigating the
case and track the IP address from where these
accounts were hacked and misused, the police said.
A team of Delhi Police also visited the Twitter office
in Bengaluru last week to investigate the case, the
officer said.
"The probe is on and we are also taking help from
the Twitter officials in Bengaluru," he added.
A week back, the Delhi Police registered two FIRs in
connection with the hacking of the of ficial Twitter
handles of the Congress party and Rahul Gandhi.
The cases were registered under Section 66 (c) of
the Information Technology Act following complaints
from the party.

Cho, a legend in Tamil cinema
and literature, is dead
Chennai: Comedian actor, political
sat irist
and
editor
Cho
Ramaswamy, a legend in his own
right, died here, just a day after
viewing on TV the burial of his old
friend J. Jayalalithaa.
A former member of the Rajya
Sabha, Cho, as he was w ide ly
addressed, suf fered a cardiac
arrest and died just before 4 a.m.
at Chennai's Apollo Hospitals,
where the Tamil Nadu Chie f
Minister too passed away.
The 82‑year‑old Cho had been in
and out of hospital since January
2015, family members and friends
said.
Messages of condolences poured
in from across the country, with
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
describing him as a friend and "a
multi‑dimensional personality,
towering intellectual, great nation‑
alist and fearless voice who was
respected and admired".
Cho founded and edited the
political magazine Thuglak, where
he earned universal respect as one
who did not allow his personal
friendship to pass impartial judge‑
ment on political events and per‑
sonalities. Between 1963 and

77 persons died of shock at
Jaya's illness, death: AIADMK

Cho Ramaswamy founded and edited the political magazine Thuglak.
2005, the versatile Cho acted in
180 Tamil films, directed five
movies, wrote and directed 20
plays, scripted and acted in 27 TV
serials and also wrote 10 books.
The films he directed include the
hugely popular Tamil political
satire "Mohammed Bin Thuglak",
apart from "Mr Sampath" and
"Sambo Siva Samboo".
He was also a dialogue writer
and lawyer.
Friends and even foes admired
Cho for his impartial reading of
political developments, both in
Tamil Nadu and beyond, even

when he had a soft corner for the
BJP and Jayalalithaa. Cho and
Jayalalithaa, who died just before
midnight on Monday, acted togeth‑
er in 19 films. He admired
Jayalalithaa and she was said to
pay heed to his views at one point.
As Editor, Cho built a rapport
with many politicians in the coun‑
try.
Way back in 1977, when the
Emergency rule of Indira Gandhi
ended, Cho campaigned for the
newly formed Janata Party, which
unseated the Congress for the first
time nationally. He was nominated

Chennai: Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK said 77 persons died due to
shock after hearing about the illness and later the demise of Chief
Minister J. Jayalalithaa and announced a solatium of R. 300,000 to their
families.
Jayalalithaa died on Monday evening after suffering cardiac arrest.
In a statement issued here, the AIADMK said a total of 77 persons died
after hearing about Jayalalithaa's illness and later on hearing about her
death.
According to the statement a sum of Rs 50,000 will be paid to a party
cadre who attempted self‑immolation on hearing about Jayalalithaa's ill
health and to another person who sacrificed a finger after heard about
her death. The party also conveyed its condolences to the family mem‑
bers of the dead.
to the Rajya Sabha in 1999 by the
government of Prime Minister Atal
Bihar Vajpayee.
Cho was among the few in Tamil
Nadu who was never attracted to
the violent ways of the Tamil
Tigers from Sri Lanka even when
the rebels used to enjoy wide‑
spread support in the state in the
1980s.
Both Mo di and Jayalalithaa
called on him when he was ill earli‑

er this year. Cho also acted with
M.G. Ramachandran, Shivaji
Ganesan, Kamal Hassan and
Rajinikant among others.
BJP President Amit Shah
described Cho as a fearless critic
whose impartial assessment of
political issues would be missed.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O.
Panneerselvam expressed grief
over his death and said Cho had
immense affection for Jayalalithaa.

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

Triple Talaq
unconstitutional,
rules High Court

Allahabad : T he Allahabad
Hig h Court has ruled that
Triple Talaq was unconstitu‑
tional.
A high court bench said the
concept violated human rights
and that personal law of any
community cannot be placed
above the Constitution.
"Triple Talaq violates the
rights of Muslim women," the
bench said. "No personal law
board
is
above
the
Constitution," the bench said,
in an apparent reference to the
All India Muslim Personal Law
Board that favours Triple
Talaq.
"Even the Holy Quran terms
the practice a wrongful act,"
the bench added. Triple talaq
is interpreted as the Islamic
practice of divorcing a woman
by uttering the word talaq
thrice. Most Muslim countries
do not approve of it.

December 10-16, 2016

INDIA

13

Carter to discuss India's position
as 'major defense partner'
New York: US Defense Secretary
Ashton Carter has said that he
will discuss with Indian officials
the impact of India being con‑
ferred the status of a "major
de fense partner" as the two
democracies are "destined to be
strategic partners in the future".
Carter was set to arrive in India
on Thursday for his second visit
to India in 2016 as part of his
farewell tour of major allies and
partners before his term ends in
December.
"I'll be discussing w ith my
Indian counterparts tomorrow ...
the major change we're about to
make in our export regulations
as regards the status of India, a
major defense partner," he told
reporters traveling with him to
India.
"The significance of that is, first
of all, it's unique to India," he
said. "It permits us to do things
with India that have never been
possible before. And it creates a
presumption of approval for
transactions with India."
About the major defence part‑
ner status, he said: "That's pend‑

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter with Prime Minister Narendra
Modi during an earlier visit. (File photo: IANS)
ing, and that is very close to the
finish line."
W hile US President Barack
Obama's administration recog‑
nize India as a major defense
partner for purposes of defense
exports, the Congress was on the
brink of passing legislation that

would formally recognize this
status for New Delhi.
T he
Nat ional
De fense
Authorization Bill, which includes
a provision, "Enhancing defence
and security cooperation with
India," that asks the Defense
Secretary to take steps to recog‑

India is for peace, but not
coward: Parrikar
New Delhi: Defense Minister
Manohar Parrikar said India
is all for peace, adding that
peace can be ensured only by
a strong country.
He also said that he had
never used the Army for polit‑
ical gains.
Speaking at the 'Agenda Aaj
Tak 2016' conclave here, the
Minister said bilateral rela‑
tions with China are improv‑
ing, and that cease‑fire viola‑
tions along the Pakistan bor‑
der have come down.
"Peace is the best thing...
war is not the pre ferred
option," Parrikar said.
"We are for peace," he said,
adding that India had never
initiated a war in the past.
On China, the Minister said:
"Our relations with China are
improving."
He added: "Those who com‑
promise due to fear of war are
called cowards. I don't intend
to call myself a coward. Peace is
established by a strong country. You
should be able to decide when to use
power," he said.
"In order to have peace, you will
have to increase your power and
show it sometimes."
Commenting on the situation along

Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar.
the India‑Pakistan border, Parrikar
said: "There is peace right now. At
this moment, cross‑border firing is
not that much."
He said he had never tried to use
the Army for political benefits. "We
are not politicising the Army. West
Beng al Chie f Minister (Mamata

Banerjee) did it. I felt it was
wrong so I spoke in Parliament,"
Parrikar said.
"Let the Army do its work; they
are not part of politics."
Claiming that the concept of
surgical strike had become a
brand, Parrikar said the success
of the September 28‑29 surgical
strikes made others "jealous".
"I never used the Army on a
political platform. All I have said
is that we took a decision. You
can call it good or bad... surgical
strike took place, the status quo
of not crossing the LoC (Line of
Control) was rejected.
"Only the forces can cross the
border, not political leadership;
but this decision, whether good
or bad, the marks should be
given to political leadership,"
Parrikar said.
"Had something gone wrong, I
don't think anyone would have
said anything but that it was an
ill‑managed operation, political
leadership was not prepared, there
was a shortage of bulletproof helmets
or jackets," he said.
"There are many fathers of success
and few of failure. There was success,
so everyone was jealous that the gov‑
ernment would get credit," the minis‑
ter said.

nize India as a major defense
partner of the US passed the
House of Representatives on
Monday, and it was expected to
clear the Senate soon.
"There are a lot of projects that
are underway under DT TI
(Defense Technology and Trade
Init iat ive)," he said, adding,
"we're working out the technical
and sometimes economic details
of them".
He said that there was congru‑
ence of policies between India
and the US.
T he t ies between the two
nations "has grown by leaps and
bounds just in the last few years"
and for the future "it's not a
question of direction, it's entirely
a question of pace," he said.
Another area of cooperation
that has blossomed was joint mil‑
itary exercises, and India has
"some desire" to have more of
them, Carter said.
Some of these exercises also
include Japan and Australia and
this meshes in with Washington's
goal of forging broader defence
networks, he added.

Demonetization
is a scam worth
Rs 8 lakh crore:
Arvind Kejriwal
New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal alleged
that the Narendra Modi government's demonetization
move was a scam worth Rs 8
lakh crore, done to write of f
bad loans worth this amount.
"What was the real reason
behind
demonet izat ion.
According to the data avail‑
able, the banks had stressed
assets of Rs 8 lakh crore. The
big companies, industrialists,
and the rich had taken loans
from banks.
"Out of these loans, at least Rs 8 lakh crore has been
misappropriated. CAG report had said that 50 per cent
of it had gone abroad and the rest was taken by fraud
and is not going to come back," said Kejriwal at the Aaj
Tak conclave.
He further said: "So they (the government) are getting
it back by making people stand in queues. First, they
informed the BJP people about the demonetisation
move. They deposited all their money, purchased
lands."
"The government has claimed that already Rs. 12
crore lakh has come back after the demonetisation
move. This was done so that the money which comes
back through the demonetisation move could be used
to write of f bad loans and Non‑Performing Assets
(NPAs) worth Rs. 8 lakh crore," added Kejriwal.

14

December 10-16, 2016

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

OBITUARY

Jaya: A shy actress who became
Queen of Tamil Nadu
l By Venkatachari Jagannathan

S

he was a shy girl when she first stepped
into the movie world. Decades later, by
when she was one of the most popular
actors in Tamil, Jayalalithaa became a colos‑
sus in Tamil Nadu's politics, one who dreamt
of playing a larger national role too.
Jayalalithaa, who died on Monday night
after a 74‑day battle for life, was a politician
par exce llence, a Brahmin woman who
reached the pinnacle in a state where anti‑
Brahminism is very strong and led her
AIADMK party to four victories in assembly
elections ‑ the last two in succession.
Affectionately called "Amma" by fans and
party activists, Jayalalithaa wielded power
with an iron hand, many men in the party
falling at her feet at public events. But she
enjoyed genuine popularity, particularly
among the economically weaker sections
who regarded her as a virtual goddess.
Jayalalithaa certainly knew what it takes to
negotiate the roller‑coaster ride of power.
Born in Karnataka on February 2, 1948
into an Iyengar family and named Komavalli,
Jayalalithaa moved to Chennai in the 1950s
to live with her mother who worked as a
stage and Tamil film actress.
A bright student, Jayalalithaa studied at the
Bishop Cotton Girl's Hig h School in
Bengaluru and the Church Park Presentation
Convent in Chennai after her relocation. At
16, she acted in a Kannada movie which
turned out to be a blockbuster. She also acted
on stage for years even as she continued to

PM Narendra Modi pays tribute to J. Jayalalithaa in Chennai. Also seen are Union Minister
M. Venkaiah Naidu and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam. (Photo: IANS/PIB)
study.
Although she wanted to pursue higher
studies, Jayalalithaa g radually veered
towards acting. Her first Tamil movie was
"Vennira Aadai" (1965). Over the decades,
she acted in 140 films in Tamil, Telugu,
Kannada and even one in Hindi "Izzat" oppo‑
site Dharmendra.
Her acting career peaked after she was
paired w ith the legendary M.G.
Ramachandran or MGR. The success of their
film "Aayirathil Oruvan" (1965) turned
Jayalalithaa into a leading heroine in Tamil
movies. The two were an instant hit on the
silver screen and they were said to be friends
too in real life. It is widely believed that it
was MGR who prompted Jayalalithaa to join

politics. But in reality, she made her own
choice.
MGR appointed her the AIADMK's
Propaganda Secretary in 1984. But it was her
grit and tenacity that helped Jayalalithaa, a
Brahmin in the Dravidian movement, to move
her way up.
When MGR fell ill and was under medical
treatment in the US, Jayalalithaa led the
AIADMK's alliance with the Congress in the
1984 general and assembly elections.
Life became choppy after MGR died in
December 1987, leaving Jayalalithaa to bat‑
tle it out with his wife Janaki for the leader‑
ship of the AIADMK. The party split into two
factions. In 1989, the two factions reunited
under Jayalalithaa's leadership and she was

elected its General Secretary.
In the same year, she was elected to the
Tamil Nadu assembly for the first time. She
became the first woman opposition leader in
the state. There was vitriolic opposition to
Jayalalithaa's ascendancy in Tamil politics,
especially from the DMK. But she countered
all that.
In 1991, she became the Chief Minister of
Tamil Nadu in elections held after former
Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's assassination
at an election rally near Chennai.
Losing in 1996, Jalayalithaa returned to
power in 2001 but had to step down after
her name figured in a court case. After being
cleared, she took over again in 2002 and
ruled till 2006. She wrested the state from
the DMK in 2011, but had to step down in
September 2014 after being convicted in a
corruption case by a Bengaluru court.
Acquitted, she took back the reins in May
2015 and led her party back to power in
2016, when she became the first in three
decades to win an assembly poll in the state
for a successive term.
Jayalalithaa was considered mercurial. She
withdrew her support to the BJP government
of Atal Bihari Vajpayee after giving the gov‑
ernment several sleepless nights in 1999.
The names of most newly‑launched welfare
schemes started with "Amma". It reinforced
her brand equity. When she was admitted to
Apollo Hospitals on September 22, no one
believed she would come out of it in a coffin.
She was hyperactive in May, winning the
election. She was dead in December.

Jaya's legacy: Industrial, social, crime rankings among India's best
l

By Prachi Salve

amil Nadu's 19th Chief
Minister (she was also the
11th, 14th, 16th and 18th) J.
Jayalalithaa, who died on
December 5, 2016, was known for
gifting her 72 million people a
record set of freebies, but she also
leaves behind a state that ranks
among India's top five in many
social, crime and industrial indica‑
tors.
Tamil Nadu now has India's low‑
est fertility rate ‑ lower than
Australia, Finland and Belgium ‑
second best infant mortality and
maternal mortality rate; records
among the lowest crime rates
against women and children; and
has more factories and provides
more industrial employment than
any other Indian state, according to
an IndiaSpend analysis of various
data sets.
However, financing the freebie
culture came at a cost. Tamil Nadu
witnessed a 92 per cent increase in
debt over five years ending 2015,
according to an IndiaSpend analy‑
sis of state budgets in November
2015.
Tamil Nadu's education indica‑

T

tors have always been above the
Indian average and have steadily
improved during Jayalalithaa's 15‑
year stint as chief minister.
Although Tamil Nadu regularly
reports violence and discrimination
based on caste, the state's crime
rates are among India's lowest, par‑
ticularly those relating to women
and children.
As regards industrial growth,
Tamil Nadu has more factories than
any other Indian state (37,378),
according to the Annual Survey of
Industries, 2013‑14. Maharashtra
ranks second with 29,123 facto‑
ries, followed by Gujarat with
22,876. More people are engaged
in industrial work (2.04 million) in
Tamil Nadu of any Indian state;
Maharashtra (1.8 million) is second
and Gujarat (1.37 million) third.
Tamil Nadu's per capita income is
India's fifth highest, but the four
states preceding it are substantially
smaller. Among the country's large
states, it has the richest people.
Jayalalithaa is known for the
freebie culture, which she did not
begin but did expand, personalizing
it along the way. For instance, her
2011 election promises included
100 units of free electricity to

every household, a free laptop for
class 11 and class 12 students
(with free internet connections), a
gram of sovereign gold as marriage
assistance, and four goats/sheep to
families who lived below the pover‑
ty line. The laptops had images of
"Amma (mother)", as Jayalalithaa
was popularly known. Other pro‑
grams also carried that name, such
as Amma canteens (for subsidized
food) and Amma medicals (for sub‑
sidized medicines).
W hile some programs were
applauded as having a social effect‑
such as the midday meal scheme,
which Tamil Nadu pioneered
before Jayalalithaa took
of fice for the first time in
1991 and encouraged chil‑
dren to stay in school‑
they resulted in the
fastest rising debt of
any Indian state, as
IndiaSpend reported
in November 2015.
Debt, per se, is not
bad, if the state's eco‑
nomic growth can sus‑
tain and service it. So, the
key matrix is the debt as a
percentage of the state's
gross domestic product

(GSDP) or total eco‑
nomic output. Tamil
Nadu's debt‑to‑
GSDP ratio at 20
per cent is lower
than the national
average, an indica‑
tion the state is
growing despite the
spike in debt.

Tamil Nadu now has
India's lowest fertility
rate ‑ lower than
Australia, Finland
and Belgium ‒ and
second best infant
mortality and
maternal mortality
rate.

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

December 10-16, 2016

OBITUARY

15

Panneerselvam: From
two‑time stopgap
CM to real CM
O

. Panneerselvam, Tamil Nadu's new Chief able to match to the gravitas of Jayalalithaa
Minister, still owns a tea stall in his vil‑
that held her millions of followers together
lage that is run by his relatives.
during her nearly three decades as a politi‑
A man of few words,
cian and a leader of masses.
Panneerselvam catapulted into
The new Chief Minister partly
the political landscape by
owes his political fortunes in
being an interim Chief
the AIADMK to his proxim‑
Minister twice ‑‑ first in
ity to former Lok Sabha
2001, when J.
member T.T.V.
Jayalalithaa was dis‑
Dinakaran, a nephew
qualified by the
of Jayalalithaa's confi‑
Supreme Court in a
dante V.K. Sasikala.
land deal, and again
Panneerselvam
in 2014 when she
represents
was jailed for corrup‑
Bodinayakanur con‑
tion. And on the third
stituency in the south‑
occasion, the son of a
ern district of Theni
farmer became the full‑
where he opened a tea
time Chief Minister of the
stall called "PV Canteen".
sprawling state after
The eatery is now run by
Jayalalithaa died on Monday
his brother in the 80s who
night after a long and
has renamed it "Rosie
bitter battle for life.
Canteen".
Paneerelvam faces many challenges in
Many in Tamil Nadu
Born in 1951 in
an uncertain world of Dravidian politics. Periayakulam in
say he owes his
claimancy to the post
Theni, he also tried his
to his unflinching loyalty to "Amma" ‑‑ as
hand in farming before venturing into poli‑
Jayalalithaa was popularly called by her pas‑
tics. His first success came in 1996 when he
sionate fans, including Panneerselvam.
was elected the chairman of the Periyakulam
AIDMK MLAs unanimously pledged their
Municipality. Also known as OPS in the
support to Panneerselvam following the
AIADMK, Panneerselvam always sports holy
death of Jayalalithaa in a hospital here. He
ash and vermilion on his forehead.
took oath early on Tuesday.
A father of three, Panneerselvam's big
Political pundits believe that this time
break came when he was elected to the
around Panneerselvam seems to be a com‑
assembly in 2001 from Periakulam.
promise candidate for the AIADMK that
Jayalalithaa made him the Revenue Minister.
returned to power in the May election with a
In September 2001, when he became the
huge majority in the assembly.
interim Chief Minister, Panneerselvam was
Paneerelvam faces many challenges in an
criticised as a puppet. He famously refused
uncertain world of Dravidian politics.
to occupy the Chief Minister's chair.
The biggest would be to hold the AIADMK
He continued to be loyal to "Amma" and
flock together after the death of its charis‑
handled all key portfolios since October 11,
matic leader and take other senior ministers
2016, weeks after Jayalalithaa was admitted
along with him. He, many feel, may not be
to the Apollo Hospitals here.

Anxious supporters outside Apollo Hospital in Chennai. (Photo: IANS)

T

he otherwise throbbing Chennai shut
down to pay its tribute to Tamil Nadu
Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa. And
for once, no one was grudging any
inconvenience. From roadside tea
shops to businesses, from shops to
all offices, from hotels to cinema
theatres, from petrol bunks to pic‑
nic spots, from private and public
transport to educational institutions
‑‑ it was shutters down all across the
sprawling city.
And the outpouring of grief in homes and
on the streets was genuine.
Irrespective of who they may have voted
for in the past, most people in Chennai felt
Jayalalithaa, 68, had a premature death and
that she deserved to live some more years.
"It is still difficult to accept that Amma is
no more," K. Nagalakshmi, who delivers
milk to homes, told IANS.
"This was not the age for her to die. She
could have lived for some more years," the
humble woman said.
For Nagalakshmi, who comes from a poor
family, Jayalalalithaa would be the leader
who cared for the underprivileged.
"The freebies introduced by Jayalalithaa
helped my daughter. She got a laptop in
school. And the free rice scheme and hous‑
ing scheme were a boon to the poor," she
added in a choking voice. Jayalalithaa, the
political successor to AIADMK founder and
her mentor M.G. Ramachandran or MGR,
enjoyed a huge following in Tamil Nadu on
account of her generous funding of social
welfare schemes.
Flower vendor P. Harikrishnan's first

By Sheikh Qayoom

T

he grief and mourning of
thousands of supporters of
late Tamil Nadu Chief
Minister J. Jayalalithaa has unmis‑
takable parallels with the death of
iconic Kashmiri leader and
founder of National Conference,
Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah.
Like Jayalalithaa, Sheikh, who
was born in 1903, ruled the hearts
and minds of his followers and
supporters.
Both these leaders were accused
of corruption during their rule, but
that did not matter to their sup‑
porters in whose eyes the two
could do no wrong.
The late Sheikh's persona, like
that of Jayalalithaa grew out of its
political borders and finally the
two became to be seen as some
kind of super humans who could
not die. "This is something which

Jaya's demise revives memories
of Sheikh Abdullah's death
People pay floral tribute to J Jayalalithaa in Bengaluru. (Photo: IANS)
the death of Jayalalithaa and the
Sheikh prove. Death of these icons
had been unacceptable to their fol‑
lowers. Super humans can not die
and that is what people who
adored these two icons believed,"
said Muzaffar Ahmad, a professor,
here.

Like her, Sheikh remained in a
critical state of health for many
months before he passed away on
September 8, 1982.
Rumours of his death spread
many times during his illness as
these did in case of Jayalalithaa.
Like her followers, the support‑

ai
n
n
e
Ch
n
w
o
d
s
shut omage
h
y
a
p
to
ya
a
J
o
t
party
of choice
is the DMK. But on
Tuesday, he too shed tears for the departed
AIADMK supremo. "I also feel Jayalalithaa
should have lived for some more years," he
said.
Harikrishnan admitted that her govern‑
ment's free rice and other schemes benefit‑
ed his and numerous other families.
"And the free insurance scheme came to
the rescue of my sister when she under‑
went an operation."
Chennai is where Jayalalitha lived ‑‑ as
she catapulted from a successful actor to
being one of the country's most popular
politicians. A.D. Bhaskar, a private sector
employee, was clear that Jayalalithaa was
truly a mass leader. "I saw such a massive
crowd at MGR's funeral (in 1987). And I am
seeing it now." Normal life was derailed on
Tuesday in Tamil Nadu. Jayalalithaa died
just before midnight on Monday after bat‑
tling for life for 74 long days in a hospital.
While supplies of essential items such as
milk were not hit in the morning, there was
a total shutdown across the state as the day
dawned.

ers of late Sheikh ridiculed, abused
and even roughed up anyone who
said that Sheikh had passed away.
Hours before his death was offi‑
cially confirmed, rumours had
spread like wildfire saying the
leader was no more.
People in summer capital of
Jammu and Kashmir sacrificed
sheep in hundreds devotional
offerings to disprove the news of
Sheikh's death.
Markets closed, traffic stopped,
Kashmir was on the road.
Thousands throughout the
Valley waited with bated breath to
know the latest on the Sheikh's
health. When the news about his
death was officially confirmed in
the evening, an unprecedented
gloom descended on Kashmir.
Wailing, weeping and beating
their chests, men, women and chil‑
dren file passed the body of
Sheikh, which was kept in the Polo

Ground in Srinagar as thousands
came for the last glimpse. Exactly
what is seen today (Tuesday) in
Chennai. The then President,
Gyani Zail Singh, and the Prime
Minister, Indira Gandhi, rushed to
Srinagar to attend the Sheikh's
funeral.
"We were told that this was the
first time in India's history that
both the President and the Prime
Minister left the capital at the
same time and that was done to
express solidarity and stand along‑
side the people of Kashmir in their
hour of grief. "I don't know
whether that was true or not, but
that is what every Kashmiri
believed that time", said Khwaja
Nisar Hussain, a retired chief engi‑
neer. As iconic leaders unlikely to
be matched by anyone in near
future, the deaths of Jayalalithaa
and Sheikh will remain itched in
public memory for many years.

16

December 10-16, 2016

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

ULTIMATE BOLLYWOOD

Jaya's demise saddens Bollywood
ollywood expressed sorrow over
the death of Tamil Nadu Chief
Minister J. Jayalalithaa, a veteran
actor who went on to become a success‑
ful politician.
Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan,
A.R. Rahman, Ram Gopal Varma and
Shankar Mahadevan paid their tributes
to the AIADMK leader on the social
media.
Here's what the celebrities said:
Amitabh Bachchan: Deeply grieved... a
strong woman.
Shah Rukh Khan: Sad to hear of the
passing away. May her soul rest in peace.
A.R. Rahman: Respect and condolences
to the people who love Puratchi Thalaivi
Jayalalithaa... We will miss her forever.
Randeep Hooda: An actor who did so
many real things that affected so many
people. A real woman in the time of femi‑
nism...
Hema Malini: Tamil Nadu admired and
adored her as did people all over India.
She was a much respected leader who
held her own in a world of men.
Prabhudheva: You are our inspiration,
greatest Chief Minister in many ways.
You will always be remembered.
Shankar Mahadevan: A great leader of
the masses has left us! She will be

B

Rajinikanth
injured while
shooting for '2.o'

Jayalalithaa died after a 74‑day battle for life.
remembered forever. Heartfelt condo‑
lences.
Ranganathan Madhavan: Deeply sad‑
dened, shocked and moved. Such a
dynamic lady and powerful leader.
Vacuum in TN.
Shruti Haasan: TN loses one of its
greatest leaders and bravest women.
Ram Gopal Varma: The only time ever I
went to an award function. Recieving

from the one and only Amma, the best
director award for 'Kshana Kshanam'.
Darshan Kumaar: May her soul rest in
peace.
Raveena Tandon: What a remarkable
woman. A true fighter.
Kunal Kohli: Jayalalithaa, in a man's
world, she was a woman of substance.
Tougher than a man. No family, yet
Amma to millions.

Bollywood sans song and dance will
become like Hollywood: Farah Khan

S

he has regaled Bollywood audiences
with beautiful song‑and‑dance
sequences in her larger‑than‑life
movies. Which was why filmmaker‑
choreographer Farah Khan feels
sad that people nowadays tend to
look down upon such routines in
Hindi cinema.
For long, Bollywood has been
associated with actors dancing
in sync with the filmʼs songs. But
if we go by the recent releas‑
es, like Phobia, Akira and
even the Shah Rukh
Khan‑starrer Dear
Zindagi, song and
dance sequences
seem to be fad‑
ing away.
Farah, who
has choreo‑
graphed
dance rou‑
tines for
more than 100 songs in over 80 Hindi
films, says these are what international
audiences associate with Bollywood.
“In a way, I feel sad that people tend to
look down upon our song‑and‑dance
(sequences) because I genuinely believe
those are what make Bollywood what it is
internationally,” Farah told IANS in an
interview.
“That is our forte and that is our
strength. That we have music in our
movies and we have songs and celebrate
dancing and color,” the 51‑year‑old said.

Farah, who has choreo‑
graphed legendary
actor Jackie Chan in
the upcoming
Sino‑Indian film
Kung Fu Yoga,
says that if
these elements

said.
Farah ventured into direction in 2004
with the film Main Hoon Na, starring Shah
Rukh Khan. She later directed films like
Om Shanti Om, Tees Maar Khan and
Happy New Year.
Farah is happy that the audience is want‑
ing new things. “What is good is that peo‑
ple want new things now at all times
Farah Khan thinks
because there is so much content avail‑
song‑and‑dance
able on the digital platform that they will
sequences make
not take the same thing (again),” she
Bollywood what it is added.

a
Madonn
‑marry
e
r
o
t
s
r
e
off
n for
Sean Pen
0
$150,00

disappear, Hollywood
will take over.
“If that goes away,
which I have been saying,
it is going to be…
Hollywood will come and
take over, which is hap‑
pening now in any case.
ʻThe Jungle Bookʼ is
doing better than any
other Hindi movie
released. So that, I think,
we should not lose,” she

S

The 65‑year‑old superstar had a fall
while shooting a scene.
uperstar Rajinikanth suffered a minor injury
on the sets of his upcoming Tamil science‑fic‑
tion action‑thriller "2.o" here. According to a
source, he fell and hurt one of his knees.
"Rajinikanth fell while filming a crucial scene
and hurt one of his knees. He was taken to
Chettinad hospital where the superstar underwent
treatment for about half an hour. Later, he
returned home," a source from the film's unit said.
Multiple sources have confirmed the superstar is
absolutely fine.
In a video released by Rajinikanth's manager
Riaz K. Ahmed on his Twitter page, he is seen exit‑
ing his caravan, waving at fans and then entering
his car.

S

I am the biggest dork:
Sunny Leone

The actress
will next be
seen in
ʻRaeesʼ.

Madonna and Sean in
happier times.

inger Madonna offered to re‑marry her ex‑husband
and actor Sean Penn in return for a $150,000 dona‑
tion to a philanthropic foundation.
The duo were taking part in Miami's Art Basel, where
they were helping to raise funds for the singer's charity
Raising Malawi. She stunned attendees when she
declared her love for her ex‑husband and offered to re‑
marry him ‑‑ in return for a $150,000 donation to the
philanthropic foundation, reports mirror.co.uk. Dressed in
a revealing dress, the singer seemed ruthless in her
attempt to generate funds at the gala event, which also
hosted the likes of actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Auctioning
off various items, including a custom‑made car and items
from her wardrobe, Madonna made the unlikely offer
while she was selling one of her designer necklaces.

ctress Sunny Leone, who has tagged herself
as the "biggest dork", relived one of her child‑
hood memories of jumping on a couch and
madly dancing to a song.
Sunny, who has films like "Raees", "Baadshaho"
and "Tera Intezaar" in her kitty, took to Twitter to
share a video in which she can be seen madly danc‑
ing and jumping on her couch while on a holiday.
"Used to jump on my couch when I was little
singing this song! Why not do it once more! Yes I
am the biggest dork! What I do on my day off,"
Sunny captioned the video.
Sunny was recently declared the most searched
personality in India by Yahoo! India, leaving behind
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Salman Khan.

A

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

ULTIMATE BOLLYWOOD

December 10-16, 2016

17

Need patient director:
SRK on Salman

Ranveer
'overwhelmed'
by Aditya
Chopra's note
Actor Ranveer Singh during a song launch from the film.
ctor Ranveer Singh was
"overwhelmed" after reading
ing each day.
a note titled "Ranveer was in
ems to be grow
se
ce
an
om
br
ʼs
an
lm
Sa
d
'Befikre'
even before I was" penned
SRK an
by filmmaker Aditya Chopra, at an
hah Rukh Khan, who co‑
The actors looked dapper in
event. Ranveer, who was here to
hosted a segment of Star
black suits.
promote his forthcoming film
Screen Awards with Salman
"It was a good fun. The theme
"Befikre" along with his co‑star
Khan, says the superstars will
was friendship so, who would be Vaani Kapoor, started reading the
work together in a film again but
better than us to host a theme
note which stated: "Dharam (the
a patient director is required to
like this?" asked Salman.
character name of Ranveer in the
direct them.
Talking about their friendship, film) is somebody I could be. But I
At the award function when
Shah Rukh said: "This is the way was never carefree enough to be.
SRK was asked about working
we are in our normal life also. It Dharam is a man, who will always
with his "Karan Arjun" co‑star
is nice our friendship has extend‑ remain a boy.
Salman, Shah Rukh replied: "We
ed."
"For Dharam, college never ended
will work (together) someday.
Asked about their past rivalry, and the party never stopped. He's
Somebody will bring something
Salman said: "It happens with
so happy being himself and making
for us. But we need a patient
everyone. But whatever hap‑
everyone around him happy. That it
director to direct us."
pened to us, too much noise was literally becomes his job for life. If
Salman added that hopefully,
made out of it."
this is the character then there can‑
"some good writer will bring a
On the film front, SRK will next not be any other actor, but Ranveer
good script and we will be able
be seen in "Raees" while Salman Singh. "Ranveer is Dharam, Dharam
to work again".
will star in "Tubelight".
is Ranveer. Even before I knew that
I am going to direct this film, I was

A

S

writing it for Ranveer."
An elated Ranveer, further read
the note to the reporters here,
where he talked about superstar
Shah Rukh Khan and Ranveer.
"He was actually the leading man
for 'Befikre' even before I was the
director of 'Befikre'. Now I have
directed only one leading man all
my life Mr. Shah Rukh Khan and
any director, who has worked with
Mr. Shah Rukh Khan knows that he
is very bad habit that you just can‑
not get over. "He makes your job so
easy that you actually cant think
working with anyone else ever. But
before doing our other film togeth‑
er I had to do this one without him
and I was really scared.
"I was scared because I truly
believe that in all the films that we
have done togeth‑
er Shah Rukh
is the rea‑
son I

came out looking good. So, am I
going to be exposed now? "It would
have been unfair to put this pres‑
sure on Ranveer or on me to take
this pressure on myself. so I just
didn't think of it and dived into this
film in this new adventure with a
new leading man, but the strangest
thing happened...The very first day
I directed Ranveer he was Shah
Rukh for me. "The same energy,
brilliance and intellect. I knew I was
in safe hands. It's not like Ranveer
acts like Shah Rukh or his process
is like him. It is just that the way
Shah Rukh used to better my work
and cover my flaws, Ranveer did
the same for me." At the end of the
note, Chopra added that he would‑
n't have made "Befikre" "if an actor
like Ranveer Singh did not exist."
After reading the note, Ranveer
said: "I am bit overwhelmed by
this note I just read. I need to
live with it for a minute."

'Kahaani 2': Forced
yet convincing
ujoy Ghosh's "Kahaani" fran‑
chise promises twists and lo
and behold, "Kahaani 2" deliv‑
ers them aplenty at a thrillingly
racy pace, making the film a com‑
pelling watch.
With flawed characters immersed
in a rescue operation of an abused
child, the film is an absorbing expe‑
rience. Durga Rani Singh (Vidya
Balan) a victim of child abuse
chances upon another victim ‑ Mini,
a young girl who is studying in the
same school she works in. How
Durga makes it her life's mission to
rescue Mini, forms the crux of the
tale. Narrated in a non‑linear man‑
ner, the story written by Sujoy
Ghosh and Suresh Nair is clearly
very sharp, intelligently crafted
with nerve‑wrecking tapestry of

S

compelling drama that is forced yet
convincing. While the plot adroitly
unfurls the layers of the mystery
that binds the tale, it is the skilfully
manipulated complex characters
that take away the realism from the
narrative. Case in point is the inves‑
tigating officer Inderjit whose pres‑
ence is used as Deus ex machina.
Vidya once again in a new avatar
as Durga Rani Singh delivers a
power‑packed performance with a
broad spectrum of emotions rang‑
ing from a happy single mother tak‑
ing care of her paraplegic daughter
to a horrified and traumatized vic‑
tim. There is just one scene, which
deals with the sensitive issue of
opening up to the abused child,
where she falters and that too,
because the scene is awkwardly

handled by the director.
Arjun Rampal in an equally
dynamic role as the investigating
officer Inderjit, with a tinge of
grey shade, renders a sincere
and credible portrayal. Jugal
Hansraj as the antagonist,
Mohit Dewan is a pleasant
surprise too. Both the
actors who portray Mini
make the character believ‑
able with their vulnerabil‑
ity. On the technical front,
with good production val‑
ues, the film is visually
atmospheric. Tapan
Basu's cinematography
captures the moods, ten‑
sion and locales with equal
fervor. His lighting of the shots is
what makes his frames stand apart.

Vidya as
Durga Rani
Singh delivers
a power‑
packed
performance.

18

December 10-16, 2016

profile
PR A S H A N T T

G U P T H A

Actor from New York finds
footing in Bollywood
He left a cushy life in New York for Mumbai to land lead roles. But without the Kapoor-Khan pedigree,
he struggled for years till he started accepting small but pivotal roles. After getting noticed in Neerja,
the versatile actor is on sure footing now. In August he was invited as co-Grand Marshal,
to India Day Parade in Long Island.
By Parveen Chopra

He possessed the drive to become an
actor from his teen years. He thought he
had the looks and talent too, the second
he honed by joining acting schools in New
York even while he was studying in Baruch
College in Manhattan. That still cut no ice
when in 2007 he left for Mumbai, initially
for short durations.
Anupam Kher advised him to shift to the
film city, take acting classes and then struggle. Film producer Bunty Walia advised him
to try television instead. He did get a break
in a cameo role in Rajshri Productions ‘Ek Vivah Aisa Bhi’ (2008) with Sonu Sood in lead
role. But knocking at studios’ and filmmakers’ doors, he found the industry people very
harsh and did not care about his
training in America. He was
often asked: “Do you have
money to Invest? Whose
son are you? What
can you do

(compromises!!)?” The city of celluloid dreams
turned into a nightmare for him. He was already married (to Mumbai girl Mansi he had
met in college) and they had a son by then.
The only solace was that his family in diamond and gems business in New York was fully supportive of his pursuing an acting career.
The nightmare of zilch work lasted for
full four years. He faced objections, dejections, and even went into depression, which
impacted his health. He had several missed
opportunities. Ram Gopal Varma wanted to
sign him for a project, but he met the topnotch director two weeks too late. Television with saas-bahu sagas never excited him
as he wanted to be an actor of substance.
Unlike hundreds of young men and women who try their luck in Bollywood and then
call it quits, his story was not fated to have
a sad ending, thanks to esoteric interventions. He met a veteran film journalist Ali Peter John who advised
him to go pray at a church in
Mahim every Wednesday for nine
weeks. He did it religiously and lo!
in the 10th week he was offered
Issaq, a Hindi adaptation of Romeo
& Juliet set in Varanasi, but in antihero’s role. His perception of acting
had changed by now– from looking
for lead roles, he had realized that it
was important to be a good actor. “I can
be a villain, a comedian, or whatever as
long as it is a good role,” he thought. He
was signed for Issaq after several
auditions. On a numerologist’s advice, he also
changed his screen
name from

Prashaant Kumar to Prashantt Guptha.
After Issaq released in 2013 he got another role as a police officer in ‘Identity Card’
against the backdrop of turmoil in Kashmir.
This film did the round of film festivals and
critics applauded his role. He was also seen
in a principal role in ‘6-5=2’, a remake of the
Kannada hit horror film of the same name.
Some of these you don’t hear about in the
USA, because only the big budget films -- a
fraction of the flicks actually made in India
-- manage to get an overseas release.
Around this time the media in India and
the US started talking about him and he came
in the limelight. He received Best Villain at
10th National Excellence Awards for Issaq.
In 2014 he had received Best Supporting Actor award for ‘Identity Card’ at the San Francisco Global Movie Fest, part of FOG-SV.
In 2015 the Rajasthan Film Festival honored him with “Pride of Rajasthan” award.
The same year he was appointed as Indian
Ambassador of Festival of Globe - Silicon
Valley (FOGSV).
How he got his big break in ‘Neerja’ is
a story by itself. Prashantt had been an
admirer of Ram Madhvani’s work ever
since he saw his documentary on megastar
Amitabh Bachchan. When he learnt that
Madhvani was to make a biopic on Neerja
Bhanot, the PanAm air hostess who sacrificed her life while helping save 359 of the
379 passengers and crew on board in the
hijacked flight in 1986, he promptly approached him. “I was fortunate that Ram sir
was cordial of my interest in working with
him and asked me to audition for a pivotal
role, which I eventually bagged,” he recalls.
Starring Sonam Kapoor in the title role, the

critically acclaimed film released in February 2016 and became a sensational hit and
Prashantt too got noticed as the American
Indian passenger on the ill-fated flight.
Even after Neerja, Prashantt still will not
say that he has ‘arrived’ as an actor, but just
that “gaadi chal padi”. He will be seen next
in ‘19th January’ with Deepti Naval and in
‘Irada’ along with Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi. He plays a Sikh in ‘Irada’ and a
Pakistani general in as yet unnamed war film.
He has also signed a two-film deal with California based IT/Media Company SmartWe.
He is also excited that he has partnered
in Mulberry Films, which aims to make Hollywood films and a few projects are in the
works. He has hired managers in India who
manage for him film assignments and endorsements, etc. Being of Rajasthani heritage, he was chosen as the main model by
ace fashion designer Rohit Verma for his
Jodha-Akbar collection.
Invited to be the co-Grand Marshal (with
film star Bobby Deol) at the India Day Parade in Hicksville, Long Island in August
was a kind of homecoming for him. His parents Savitri and Kedar Gupta, who live in
Manhasset, NY, were proud to accompany
him at the parade and related events. They
remain supportive of Prashantt’s career
choice, which is unconventional for a Rajasthani family in jewelry business. At the parade kick-off, Prashantt said of them emotionally, “More than the number of studios
I trudged to, my parents went to temples to
pray for my success.”
Prashantt now lives with his wife Mansi
and two sons named Vedant and Siddhant
in Andheri, Mumbai, and makes frequent
trips to America.

Prashantt manages to easily transform into the
various characters he is asked to play.
Photos: IANS

profile

December 10-16, 2016

19

Q&A with the Versatile Actor
The South Asian Times:

ing -- being what the role
demands, creating a personal style like Dev Anand,
method acting or...?

Any comments from film
personalities about your
histrionic abilities or your
struggle in filmdom?

prashantt guptha:

PG:

I will
withhold from mentioning
names at this point, but yes,
I’ve had dozens of directors,
producers, managers and
friends in the industry praise
my persistence, dedication
to the craft, the way I prepare for my characters and
sincerity as a human being.
What is your theory of act-

There are a hundred
theories on acting. I’ve read
about many and whilst it’s
all interesting, all that matters is you get to where you
need to. You build your own
map and method. I surrender to the character and director to my best ability and
that works for me.
Any favorite actors - from
Bollywood or Hollywood?

T H E

Mahajan’s book in top ten of 2016
A finalist for the National Book Award,
Karan Mahajan’s novel, The Association of
Small Bombs, is in top 10 books of 2016,
including the list of The New York Times.
It opens with a Kashmiri terrorist attack
in a Delhi market, then follows the lives of
those affected. This includes Deepa and Vikas Khurana, whose young sons were killed,
and the boys’ injured friend Mansoor, who
grows up to flirt with a form of political terrorism himself. As the narrative suggests,
nothing recovers from a bomb: not our hu-

And your five favorite films.

PG:

Dilip Kumar, Amitabh
Bachchan, Sean Penn, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Irrfan
Khan ... Too many films to
mention, but undoubtedly
The Godfather series is religious and spiritual on an
entirely different level.
Do you find the Hindi film
industry a little more organized and corporatized now
compared to the chaos and
whimsy of the last century
when mafia allegedly dominated and so many films got

started but remained unfinished or canned?

PG: My wisdom is too little
to elaborate on this. I’m not
old or experienced enough
to have a comparative view.
What can be said is that every era will have its pros and
cons.
Would you rather remain a
good actor in demand or become a star?

PG: A ‘good actor in demand’
IS a ‘star’ ... trust me!

A R T S

Hamilton, one of Broadway’s best

manity, not our politics, not even our faith.
Wrote the NYT reviewer: “Allow me to skip
the prelude to judgment that usually begins
a book review, and just get right to it: Karan
Mahajan’s second novel, “The Association of
Small Bombs,” is wonderful. It is smart, devastating, unpredictable and enviably adept in
its handling of tragedy and its fallout.” Mahajan was born in Stamford, Connecticut, and
grew up in New Delhi. He currently lives in
Brooklyn. His first novel, ‘Family Planning
(2012), was a portrait of modern New Delhi.

‘Hamilton: An American Musical’ did not
need the publicity President-elect Donald
Trump gave it by asking the cast and crew
to apologize for ‘harassing’ Mike Pence
with a speech about need for inclusiveness,
when the Vice President elect was in the
audience. The Broadway show about the
life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, with music, lyrics, and book
by Lin-Manuel Miranda, has achieved both
critical acclaim and box office success. Nor
could the zealous Trump fans achieve much
had they called a boycott of the production
in New York, which is booked months in

advance, and is now also staged in Chicago
and will be seen in San Francisco next year.
‘Hamilton’ is a blend of hip-hop and more
traditional theater music. It also makes its
cast not a “color-blind” experiment but a very
feature of its revolution, uniting the American one of 1776, and the racial one of having
people of color play our white Founding Fathers, reflecting the America of today.
The show received a record-setting 16
Tony nominations in 2016, winning 11,
including Best Musical, and also the 2016
Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

20

December 10-16, 2016

DIASPORA

UAE‑based Indian teen
wins Children Peace Prize
The Hague: An Indian schoolgirl
based in UAE has won this year's
International Children's Peace
Prize for her fight to save the
planet. Kehkashan Basu, a 16‑
year‑old schoolgirl, was present‑
ed the award by Nobel Peace lau‑
reate Mohammad Yunus at a cer‑
emony held in T he Hague on
Friday, Gulf News reported.
At the age of eight, Basu organ‑
ized an awareness‑raising cam‑
paign for the recycling of waste
in her Dubai neighborhood.
In 2012, she founded her own
organization, Green Hope, which
carries out environment‑focused
campaigns. Basu went on to
become the youngest ever Global
Coordinator for the Major Group
for Children and Youth of the UN
Environmental Program.
Basu has addressed various
international conferences and
her organization Green Hope was
now active in ten countries with
more than 1,000 young volun‑
teers.
"It is a great achievement for
such a young person to already
have such reach and impact with
her important message," said

Kehkashan Basu (Image courtesy: kidsrights.pr.com)
Yunus.
"Kehkashan teaches us that we
all have a responsibility to work
towards a sustainable future," he
added.
The schoolgirl won because she
had proved her ability to start a
movement with real impact, said
Marc Dullaert, the founder of the
KidsRig hts Foundat ion. T he
Amsterdam‑based global chil‑
dren's aid group runs the award
program, which started in 2005.
After receiving the prize, Basu

New Zealand sees 'catastrophic'
drop in Indian student visas
Wellington: New Zealand has seen a
sharp drop in new study visas
issued to Indian students in the past
five months compared to earlier
mainly due to tighter visa rules, a
media report said on Wednesday.
Between the start of July and the
end of October Immigration New
Zealand approved 3,102 visas, just
48 per cent of the 6,462 visas
approved in the same period in
2015, said New Zealand's public
broadcaster Radio New Zealand.
The decline was due to tighter
rules for, and monitoring of, study
visa applications from India as
many students were arriving with
limited money and less proficiency
of English to study in New Zealand.
T he Auckland International
Education Group, which represents
16 private tertiary institutions, said
the government had gone too far.

T he group's spokesman Paul
Chalmers said Immigration New
Zealand's Mumbai office was turn‑
ing down too many potential stu‑
dents. "It's a matter of loosening up
in Mumbai and saying 'this is now a
catastrophic collapse'," Radio New
Zealand quoted Chalmers as saying.
Chalmers said the government is
right to tighten English language
requirements, but in some cases it is
not clear why students are being
refused visas.
He also said he expected the num‑
ber of visa approvals would rise, but
not to the highs of previous years.
Richard Goodall, international
education spokesperson of
Independent Tertiary Education
New Zealand (ITENZ), said good
institutions would cope with the fall
in enrolments from India, but oth‑
ers might go out of business. (IANS)

said she would "keep campaign‑
ing to encourage children and
adults to create a more sustain‑
able future." Basu currently
divides her time between the UAE
and Canada, where she has
moved to study.
"I call upon everyone to think
of how they can contribute to the
preservat ion of the environ‑
ment... Time is not on our side ‑
we have to act now, or we will
have polar bears under palm
(IANS)
trees," she said.

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

UK Hindu Temples
ban 'animal fat'
5 pound note
London: A number of
Hindu temples in
Britain have banned
the new 5 pound note
after it emerged that it
contained animal fat.
The National Council
of Hindu Temples said
the new currency
"ceases to be a simple
medium of exchange
The new 5 pound note
but becomes a medi‑
(Image courtesy: ndtv.com)
um for communicat‑
ing pain and suf fering and we Facebook which said: "We no
would not want to come into con‑ longer accept the new 5 pound
tact with it." The Independent on notes as they contain animal fat."
Last week, it was revealed that
Sunday quoted Satish Sharma, a
spokesperson for the Council, as the note contains tallow, which
telling BBC that he knew of at least comes from beef or mutton fat.
three temples which were not Hindus consider cow a holy ani‑
mal. The Shree Sanatan Temple at
accepting the 5 pound note.
"I think temples have a responsi‑ Leicester also launched a cam‑
bility to maintain a certain stan‑ paign to have the note replaced,
dard of Dharmic (religious) princi‑ the Independent reported.
"We are very disappointed to
ples. Any temple which wanted to
learn
that the new 5 pound note
go along and ban the 5 pound note
contains
traces of animal fat," the
wouldn't be acting in any matter
temple's
website
said.
which was inconsistent," he said.
A petition to remove tallow from
T he Bhaktivedanta Manor, a
Hare
Krishna
temple
at the bank notes has received more
Hertfordshire, posted a photo on than 120,000 signatures.

Indian‑origin student sues Oxford
University for 'boring' teaching
London: An Indian‑origin student
has sued Oxford University for
"boring" teaching which allegedly
resulted in him getting a second
class degree and in turn led to loss
of earnings in his career as a
lawyer.
Faiz Siddiqui studied modern his‑
tory at Brasenose College at the
university and accuses its staf f of
"negligent" teaching of his special‑
ist subject course on Indian imperi‑
al history, which led to him getting
a 2:1 back in 2000, the High Court
in London heard this week. A judge‑
ment is expected later this month.
Siddiqui's barrister Roger
Mallalieu told the judge that the
problem came down to four of the
seven staf f teaching Asian history
being on sabbatical leave at the
same time during the 1999‑2000

Faiz Siddiqui has demanded 1
million pounds for his failed career
(Image : mirchi9.com)
academic year, The Sunday Times
reported. Siddiqui believes he could
have had a high‑flying career as an
international commercial lawyer if
he had not got lower grades.
He singled out the "boring" stan‑
dard of tuition that Siddiqui had
received from David Washbrook, an
expert on the history of southern
India between the 18th and 20th

centuries. Mallalieu claimed that
the eminent historian's teaching
had suffered from the "intolerable"
pressure of the staff shortages on
the course.
"There is no personal criticism of
Washbrook. Our target is on the
university's back for allowing this
to happen," Mallalieu told the court.
Siddiqui, who trained as a solici‑
tor after college, suf fers from
depression and insomnia, which he
links to his "disappointing examina‑
tion results", and has said he has a
"fundamental inability to hold
down any professional day job for
any significant length of time."
Oxford University argues that the
claim is baseless and should be
struck out because of the number
of years that have passed since
(PTI)
Siddiqui graduated.

subcontinent

Khaleda Zia ordered
to appear in court

Zia was accused of embezzling
over 20 million taka.
Dhaka: A court in Dhaka ordered ex-Prime
Minister Khaleda Zia to appear before it on
January 9.
In line with the order issued by Judge Kamrul Hossain Mollah of Metropolitan Sessions Judges Court, Zia’s bail will be cancelled if she fails to appear before the court
on that day, Xinhua reported.

Zainul Abedin Meshbah, a counsel for
Khaleda, told reporters that December 1
was fixed for framing charges against Zia,
also chairperson of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), in nine cases
filed under explosives control act and special powers act and one for treason.
“Madam (Khaleda Zia) could not attend
the court in these cases as she had to appear
before another court today,” said Mesbah.
Against this backdrop, Judge Hossain ordered Zia to appear before the court on Jan 9.
Zia appeared before Judge Abu Ahmed
Jomader of the Special Judge Court-3 earlier and placed her self-defense statement
in two trust graft cases.
Zia and five others, including her elder son
Tarique Rahman, were accused of embezzling
over 20 million taka ($253,164) from an orphanage trust during her 2001-2006 tenure.

Will respond with full force
to India on LoC: Pak Army

The army chief was briefed on the security situation at the LoC.
Islamabad: Newly-appointed Pakistan
Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa warned
India of a “response with full force” for ceasefire violations by Indian troops along the Line
of Control (LoC), the army’s media wing said.
During a visit to the 10 Corps Rawalpindi
and troops at forward locations along the
LoC, Gen Bajwa said: “Each violation of any
kind must be responded to with full force
in the most effective manner,” the InterServices Public Relations (ISPR) said.
The army chief was briefed on the security
situation at the LoC “in view of recent violations and escalation by Indian troops and
Pakistan’s own response”, the statement said.

Gen Bajwa said India’s “aggressive posture” was aimed solely at diverting the
world’s attention away from “atrocities”
being committed by Indian troops in Jammu and Kashmir.
He said the Kashmir issue will have to be
resolved in line with United Nations resolutions keeping in view the aspirations of the
Kashmiri people in order to achieve lasting
regional peace, the ISPR statement said.
The army chief appreciated the operational readiness of troops and the “befitting response” given to “unprovoked Indian firing”
across the LoC. Gen Bajwa directed troops to
keep the highest level of vigil at all times.

December 10-16, 2016

21

Nepali parties urged to back
constitutional amendment
Kathmandu: Nepali President Bidya Devi
Bhandari has urged political parties to focus
on implementation of a new constitution and
maintain harmony in the country.
She made the remarks while convening
an all-party meeting at the Presidential
Palace, Xinhua news agency reported.
“Bhandari expressed her anxiety over possible repercussions if the new constitution is
not implemented,” Vice Chairman of the CPN
(Maoist Centre) Narayan Kaji Shrestha said.
She called on all parties to work toward
ensuring political stability in the country
and forge consensus on the thorny issues
relating to the constitutional amendment,
said Shrestha.
“Parties need to be mindful about the
country’s sovereignty and national harmony
while taking any kind of decision that may
have impact for the long run,” Bhandari said.
The amendment bill seeks to carve out a new

state in western Nepal to meet the demands
of Madhesi parties, whose months-long protests last year left more than 50 people dead.
The opposition parties, including Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist), Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist Leninist), Rashtriya Janamorcha Party
Nepal and Nepal Workers Peasants’ Party,
have been protesting against the bill.

Nepali President Bidya Devi Bhandari

India, Afghanistan
lash out at Pak

Amritsar: An international conference
named Pakistan-based terrorist groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad as grave
threats to peace in the region after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani unambiguously dubbed
the neighbor as a terror sanctuary, sharing
India’s concern over cross-border violence.
In a major diplomatic victory for India,
the joint resolution adopted at the 6th ministerial ‘Heart of Asia conference - Istanbul
Process on Afghanistan’ said among other
terror groups propagating “high level of
violence” were “the Taliban, Daesh (Islamic
State) and its affiliates, the Haqqani Network, Al Qaida ... Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-eMohammad, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan...”.
Also called the Amritsar Declaration, the
resolution said participating countries and
groupings were “concerned by the gravity
of the security situation in the region” and
demanded “an immediate end to all forms
of terrorism, as well as all support to it, including financing”.
Earlier, Ghani and Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke in the presence of Islamabad’s top diplomat Sartaj Aziz at the start
of the summit held in this Punjab city near
India’s border with Pakistan.
While Ghani was unequivocal in asserting that Pakistan was the source of crossborder terror in his country, Modi didn’t
name any nation but urged the world to act
against “those who support, shelter, train
and finance” terrorists.
Aziz appeared shocked with the Afghan
President’s blunt remarks.
Ghani said the Pakistan military was selective in fighting terrorists on its soil and
sought to know what was being done to
“prevent the export of terror”.
“The state-sponsored sanctuaries exist in
Pakistan. As Mr. Kakazada, one of the key
figures in the Taliban movement, recently
said if they didn’t have sanctuary in Pakistan,
they wouldn’t last a month,” he asserted.
Directly addressing Aziz, Pakistan’s de facto foreign policy chief, the President urged
Islambad to fight militants rather than giving

financial assistance to his country ravaged
by decades of war and terrorism.
Ghani thanked Pakistan for its pledge to
donate $500 million, but said: “This fund,
Mr. Aziz, could very well be used for containing extremism because without peace
any amount of assistance will not meet the
needs of our people.”
“Afghanistan suffered the highest number of casualties last year. This is unacceptable. Some countries still provide sanctuary
for terrorists.”
Modi was not as blunt as his Afghan guest.
“We must demonstrate strong collective
will to defeat terror networks. Support for
peace alone is not enough. It must be backed
by resolute action,” the Prime Minister said.
“Silence and inaction against terrorism in
Afghanistan and our region will only embolden terrorists and their masters.”
The conference, attended by representatives of some 14 countries and international groupings -- 45 in all -- was to find
ways to help Afghanistan in its political and
economic transition.

Indian PM Narendra Modi and
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at
the Heart of Asia conference.

22 December 10-16, 2016

INTERNATIONAL

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

Angela Merkel calls for
burqa ban in Germany

Bernard
Cazeneuve
(2nd R)
speaking at a
meeting in
Paris.

Hollande names Cazeneuve
as new French PM
Paris: French President Francois Hollande
appointed incumbent Interior Minister
Bernard Cazeneuve as the new Prime Minister
to replace Manuel Valls, as the latter has decid‑
ed to quit the job, authorities said.
Hollande has picked Cazeneuve as Prime
Minister until the end of the Socialist Party's
five year term next May, Elysee Palace said in a
statement, Xinhua news agency reported.
Hollande has accepted the resignation of
Valls who launched a bid to seek the Left's
nomination to book a ticket for the presiden‑
tial race, it added. Hollande also ef fected a
minor cabinet reshuffle where Bruno Le Roux,
chief of the Socialist Party in the Lower House
of parliament, will replace Cazeneuve as the
Interior Minister while Andre Vallini was
named Junior Minister for Relations with
Parliament, and Jean‑Marie Le Guen was

named Secretary of State for Development and
Francophonie.
In a cabinet reshuf fle in 2014, Cazeneuve,
then a deputy minister in charge of budget,
was nominated Interior Minister to replace
Valls who was named chief of the Socialist gov‑
ernment.
"(Cazeneuve) has the experience of the state.
He knows very well the issues of security and
the fight against terrorism, which is one of the
government's priorities," a source close to the
presidential office said.
Valls announced his candidacy for the Left
primary in preparation for the 2017 presiden‑
tial election on Monday in Evry, a commune in
the suburbs of Paris, proposing a new path for
"an independent France uncompromising on
its values". He submitted his resignation to
Hollande earlier on Tuesday.

War has displaced 31,000
people in Aleppo: UN

Aleppo is the largest city in Syria.
Geneva: At least 31,500 civilians
have been displaced w ithin
Aleppo since fighting between
warring factions escalated the
Of fice for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Af fairs (OCHA)
said. Over half (18,000) of these,
who have been forced to flee
their homes have gone to
Jibreen, a government‑held dis‑
trict of western Aleppo, Xinhua
news agency cited an OCHA
statement. A further 8,500 have
fled to a Kurdish area while
5,000 have been displaced with‑
in east Aleppo which has been
under siege for almost five
months, the UN body added.
According to the UN Children's
Fund (UNICEF), around 60 per

cent of those displaced are chil‑
dren. Though unable to reach
civilians who have not left east‑
ern parts of the war‑torn city, the
UN said Thursday that it is able
to provide much needed food
and medical aid to the displaced.
OCHA also said that the UN
had acknowledged a Russian
proposal to open four humani‑
tarian corridors servicing east
Aleppo.
After discussions with Moscow,
the UN hopes to use these corri‑
dors to carry out medical evacu‑
at ions while bring ing much
needed re lie f items to east
Aleppo if safety guarantees are
provided by all parties to the
conflict.

Berlin: German Chancellor Angela
Merkel has called for a burqa ban
in Germany while making her
pitch for a fourth term as
Chancellor, local media reported.
Addressing her conservative
Christian Democratic Union
(CDU) party in the western city of
Essen, Merkel said she would sup‑
port a nationwide prohibition on
Islamic veils covering the face.
"The full‑face veil is not accept‑
able in our country," the
Independent quoted Merkel as
saying. "It should be banned,
wherever it is legally possible."
German Interior Minister
Merkel said wearing of full‑faced veils should be
T homas de Maizière, one of
prohibited in the country.
Merkel's closest allies, first came
out in favor of a partial burqa ban
decided in September 2015 to let in
in August, saying that the law would apply migrants who were stuck in Hungary.
in "places where it is necessary for our
She said that situation "should not and
society's coexistence", including govern‑ must not be repeated". "That was and is
ment offices, schools and universities, our, and my, declared political aim," she
courtrooms as well as demonstrations.
added.
During her party's conference, Merkel
While Merkel has continued to insist
also said the refugee crisis "must never be that Germany will take in people in gen‑
repeated".
uine need of protection, her government
She has come under fire for her "open has moved to toughen asylum rules and
doors" approach to refugee crisis. declare several countries "safe" ‑ meaning
Germany saw about 890,000 asylum‑seek‑ people from there cannot expect to receive
ers arrive in 2015, many after Merkel protection in Germany.

Italian political crisis looms after
Renzi's referendum defeat
Rome: Italy faced political uncer‑
tainty after centre‑Left Premier
Matteo Renzi said he was stepping
down following a referendum
defeat on his plans to streamline
Italy's political machinery.
Renzi said he would tender his
resignation to Italian President
Sergio Mattarella after 60 percent
of Italian voters rejected his pro‑
posed constitutional reforms to
strengthen the central govern‑
ment and rein in parliament's
upper house Senate and the
regions.
"It wanted to e liminate the
excessive seats of power....I failed
and so I it's up to me to stand
down, said Renzi.
"I lost, I say it out loud, albeit
with a lump in my throat," said
Renzi, who took office in February
2014.
With most ballots counted from
the referendum, the No vote leads
with 60 percent compared with
40 percent for Yes, with a 70 per‑
cent turnout.
Mattarella will now appoint a
caretaker Prime Minister ‑ possi‑
bly Finance Minister Pier Carlo
Padoan ‑ or call snap elections as
the populist opposition Five Star
movement and the anti‑immigrant
Northern League party are

Renzi speaks during a press conference in Rome.
demanding. The head of state may
ask Renzi to stay on until the
Parliament has passed the 2017
budget bill due later this month.
Fresh elections are slated in 2018.
Markets showed no signs of
panic on Monday as the possibility
of the reformist Renzi's departure
had already been factored in.
But there are concerns the politi‑
cal uncertainty could do deep
damage to Italy's already fragile
banking sector, where the failure
of a major bank such as troubled
Monte dei Paschi di Siena could
set off a wider crisis.
Italy's ailing banking system

remains vulnerable and the coun‑
try's debt‑to‑GDP ratio, at 133 per‑
cent, is second only to Greece's.
Despite a weak recovery begun
under Renzi's watch, Italy's econo‑
my ‑ the eurozone's third largest ‑
remains 12 percent smaller than
when the financial crisis began in
2008.
The Five Star movement, which
says it is getting ready to govern
Italy, has called for a referendum
on membership of the single cur‑
rency.
The referendum result is being
seen as a blow to the European
Union.

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

Deember 10-16, 2016

BUSINESS

23

RBI keeps lending rates unchanged,
lowers growth forecast
Mumbai: T he Reserve Bank of
India (RBI) has kept its key lend‑
ing rates unchanged and lowered
the country's growth forecast cit‑
ing global and local uncertainties.
T he RBI's Monetary Policy
Committee (MPC), during its sec‑
ond bi‑monthly monetary policy
review ‑‑ the fifth of the fiscal ‑‑
kept the repurchase rate, or the
short‑term lending rate it charges
on borrowings by commercial
banks, unchanged at 6.25 per
cent.
T he reverse repurchase rate
automat ically
remained
unchanged at 5.75 per cent.
Among the two key instruments
to check money flow, the cash
reserve ratio (CRR), or the quan‑
tum of liquid funds which com‑
mercial banks have to keep, and
the statutory liquidity ratio (SLR),
or the value of specified securities
which they have to subscribe to,

19.1 bn new notes pumped
into public domain: RBI
Mumbai: With growing concerns over the circulation of new notes
with the public post‑demonetization, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)
on Wednesday clarified that 19.1 billion pieces of new currency have
been put back into the public domain.
"Nineteen point one billion notes have already been put in circula‑
tion with the public," RBI Deputy Governor R. Gandhi said in a press
conference after the bi‑monetary policy review.
Gandhi also said almost Rs 12 lakh crore old notes (Rs 11.85 lakh
crore) have been deposited by public so far.
On November 8, the government decided to demonetise Rs 500 and
Rs 1,000 notes across the country.

The decision was taken after considering factors such as a likely hike in
the US interest rates & lower growth due to the demonetization drive.
were also left unaltered. The cur‑
rent CRR is 4 per cent, while the
SLR is 20.75 per cent.
However, the incremental CRR
aimed at absorbing the surplus liq‑
uidity with banks post‑demoneti‑

zation will be discontinued from
the fortnight beginning December
10. The RBI had earlier announced
the incremental CRR of 100 per
cent of the increase in net demand
and time liabilities (NDTL) of

scheduled
banks
between
September 16, 2016 and
November 11, 2016, that came
into effect from November 26.
The government constituted the
new policy panel with the primary
mandate of ensuring retail infla‑
tion of 4 per cent, plus or minus

two percentage points.
According to the panel, its deci‑
sion to keep the key lending rates
unchanged was taken after consid‑
ering various global and local fac‑
tors such as a likely hike in the US
interest rates and lower growth
due to the demonetization drive.

Mistry must step down from boards of
Tata companies: Tata Sons
Mumbai: Asking its ousted Chairman Cyrus Mistry to follow
his own assertions on corporate governance, Tata Sons said
that he should step down from the boards of Tata compa‑
nies.
"The same corporate governance guidelines, Mistry 's
office is referring to, prescribes that a Tata employee must
step down from the Boards of Tata companies, after he ceas‑
es to be a Tata employee," a group spokesperson for Tata
Sons said.
"After being replaced as Chairman of Tata Sons, Mistry
ceases to be a Tata employee. It is he who is violating the
guidelines that he himself propounded, and not Tata."
Tata Sons board had ousted Mistry on October 24 and
appointed Tata as the Interim Chairman.
The rebuttal came after Mistry's office on Tuesday said
the governance guidelines developed under him created an
effective check and balance against any individual becoming
larger than life.
"Far from Mistry taking over control over all Tata Group
activity, it is a matter of record that the governance guide‑
lines developed under him in consultation with the board of
directors of Tata Sons, and CEOs and independent directors
of various Tata Group operating companies, subjected
Mistry himself to an unprecedented scrutiny of nearly 50
individuals who appraised his corporate performance," his
office said.
"This approach empowered Boards of Directors ‑ both at
Tata Sons and the Tata Group operating companies. It creat‑

ed an ef fective check and balance against any individual
becoming larger than life. So there was no question of any‑
thing remotely like what is sought to be alleged."
The comments from Mistry's office came a day after Tata
Sons in a statement rebutted its ousted Chairman's appeal
for support from stakeholders ahead of the extraordinary
general meetings called by several Tata Group companies to
remove him from their board.
Tata Sons had alleged that Mistry has gradually over the
past years concentrated all power and authority in his own
hands as Chairman in all the major Tata operating compa‑
nies, where there are no longer any representatives from
the board of Tata Sons, the main promoter and largest
shareholding group.
Mistry's office pointed out that his 'fight is to protect the
Tata Group from capricious decision‑making by its Interim
Chairman Ratan Tata'.
"Mistry's fight today is to protect the Tata Group from
capricious decision‑making by the Interim Chairman," his
of fice said. The statement from Mistry's of fice explained
that Mistry would hurt his own family's financial interests if
he sought to make Tata Group companies break away from
Tata Sons.
"The statement itself records that Mistry's family holds
over 18% interest in Tata Sons. If he were to indeed seek to
make Tata Group companies break away from Tata Sons, he
would have been hurting his own family's financial inter‑
ests," Mistry's office said.

Ousted Chairman Cyrus Mistry.

24 December 10-16, 2016

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

SPORTS

SC permits BCCI to spend Rs 1.33 crore for England Tests
New Delhi: The Supreme Court
has permitted the Board of
Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)
to spend a sum of Rs 2.83 crore
for two Tests, three One‑Day
Internationals (ODIs) and three
T20s against England.
The remaining two Tests of the
five‑match series will be played in
Mumbai and Chennai. The fourth
match begins on Thursday. The
first match was played at Rajkot,
and the follow ing two at
Visakhapatnam and Mohali.
The bench of Chief Justice T.S.
Thakur, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar
and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud
asked the apex cricketing board
to submit the income‑expenditure
accounts of the Tests including
those
played
at
Rajkot,
Visakhapatnam, Mohali, and to be
played Mumbai and Chennai.
The BCCI has sought Rs 3.79
crore for the three ODIs and
three Twenty20 matches but the
court allowed only Rs 25 lakh for
each of the six limited overs
matches and sanctioned a sum of
Rs 1.33 crore for the Mumbai

The remaining two Tests of the five‑match series will be played in Mumbai and Chennai.
and Chennai Tests.
While not opposing the BCCI
plea for funds, advocate Gopal
Shankarnarayan told the court
that the BCCI was holding match‑
es at the venues owned by its
state af filiates which have
refused to comply with the direc‑
tions of Justice Lodha panel for

ef fecting organisational reforms
in the national cricketing body.
"T hese are the states which
have not accepted your directions
but matches are being played at
their venues", Shankarnarayan
told the court.
Seeking the income‑expendi‑
ture account, Chie f Just ice

Thakur said, "We want to know
how much is being spent, and
how much BCCI is getting."
"You are spending more than
what you are earning. For each
Test match there is a balance
sheet," Chie f Just ice T hakur
observed as counsel Kapil Sibal,
standing for the BCCI, gave some

figure. T he apex court on
November 8 had allowed the
BCCI to spend Rs 58.66 lakh for
conducting the first Test match
ag ainst Eng land, start ing at
Rajkot on Wednesday.
The court on November 8 had
also permitted the apex cricket‑
ing bo dy to spend a similar
amount for the other matches
against England till December 3.
By its October 21 ruling, the
Supreme Court had barred the
BCCI from making any expendi‑
ture on its af filiates till they
agreed to comply with the recom‑
mendations of the Lodha panel,
which have been accepted by the
court. "BCCI shall forthwith cease
and desist from making any dis‑
bursement of funds for any pur‑
pose whatsoever to any state
association until and unless the
state asso ciat ion concerned
adopts a resolution undertaking
to implement the recommenda‑
tions of the committee as accept‑
ed by this court in its judgment
dated 18 July 2016," the court
had said.

Indian tennis players unhappy SC hearing on Lodha
over Federer, Serena's pull out panel report deferred
Kolkata: National tennis champion
V.M. Ranjeet and 2014 Chennai
Open wild card entrant Jeevan
Nedunchezhiyan lamented the
absence of superstars Roger
Federer and Serena Williams from
the International Premier Tennis
League (IPTL) due to demonetisa‑
tion.
"It's obviously a loss for tennis
fans and players to not get the
opportunity to watch Federer or
Serena play in front of their eyes,"
Ranjeet said on the sidelines of
the Premjit Lall Invitat ional
Tournament starting here. Eight

players including Vishnu Vardhan,
top seed Sriram Balaji, Kaza
Sharma, Dalbinder Singh and
Sanam Sharma will be part of the
three‑day meet.
"It's obviously a bigger miss for
the fans more than the players.
We have seen these stars like
Roger and Rafa (Nadal) play here
last time. But just to have dinner
with say Roger Federer is an expe‑
rience of a lifetime for any of us,"
Jeevan said. Federer and Serena
were supposed to come for the
second edition of the franchise
tournament organised by veteran

doubles specialist Mahesh
Bhupathi.
But due to high‑value currency
notes ban in the country, the
Swiss and the American hotshots
decided to give the meet a skip
cit ing financial concerns on
Tuesday.
Federer's former coach Tony
Roche is scheduled to attend the
event. "He is coming tonight. The
idea is to get these players to
interact with someone of the ilk of
Tony," former Davis Cupper Jaidip
Mukherjea, whose academy here
is hosting the event, said.

Russia wants UN to discuss
contentious anti-doping system
Moscow: Russia proposes that the
United Nations should discuss the
double standards exercised by inter‑
national anti‑doping agency, which
secretly issued permissions for ath‑
letes to consume banned perform‑
ance enhancing drugs, Russia's UN
envoy Vitaly Churkin has said.
Churkin said that such a situation
looks "extremely hypocritical" in
view of the suspension of the whole
Russian Paralympic team from the
2016 Rio Games "only on grounds of
suspicions," reports Tass. "Such situ‑
ation can be hardly accepted as the
one in compliance with justice, equal
approach and fair game," the Russian

diplomat said on Tuesday. "We pro‑
pose to discuss this situation in the
United Nations."
Churkin said that the international
anti‑doping system must be trans‑
parent and provide for the undis‑
putable equality of all athletes.
"On the whole, it is necessary to
work out unified requirements of
doping control," the Russian UN
envoy added. "Not only athletes, but
the public society must have access
to the information regarding doping
tests." Churkin continued that Russia
for its part was open for cooperation
in the fight against doping abuse and
was currently implementing the

national plan on this issue and
toughening legislations envisaging
criminal responsibility for the pro‑
motion and encouragement of per‑
formance enhancing drugs in sports.
"However, it is high time to clear
out whether everything is so fine
beyond the Russian borders," he
said. “In this regard, it is inadmissible
to ignore the information, which the
international sports society recently
learnt, that anti‑doping bodies were
giving secret consent for the use of
strong drugs to athletes who had
been winning major tournaments in
recent years and earning tens of mil‑
lions of dollars."

till December 9

New Delhi: T he
Supreme
Court
de ferred
t ill
December 9 the hear‑
ing on a plea by the
Justice Lodha panel
for the ouster of all
of fice‑bearers of the
Board of Control for
Cricket in India
(BCCI) and its state
asso ciat ions while
also suggesting the
appointment of for‑
mer Home Secretary
G.K. Pillai as an
Chairman of the Supreme Court
observer in the apex
Committee on Reforms in Cricket,
cricket bo dy. T he
Justice (retd.) R M Lodha.
bench of Justice A.M.
Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. by the of fice‑bearers of the
Chandrachud de ferred the BCCI".
"Direct and declare that all
hearing on the third status
of
fice‑bearers of the BCCI and
report filed by Justice Lodha
panel as it adjourned the hear‑ the state associations who are
ing because Chie f Just ice disqualified by virtue of the
T.S.T hakur, who heads the norms at Para 4 (above 70,
Minister or government ser‑
bench was on leave.
In the status report that was vant, holding a post in any
filed to the court on November other sports body, has been a
21, the panel sought that Pillai BCCI office‑bearer for a cumu‑
be appointed as observer with lative period of nine years or
power to appoint an auditor, has been charged by a court for
and guide the BCCI administra‑ criminal of fence) above cease
tion, particularly on the award to hold of fice forthwith," the
Lodha pane l has said in its
of contracts and transparency.
The Lodha panel has pointed report that was to be consid‑
to "continued non‑compliance ered by the apex court.

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

HUMAN INTEREST

December 10-16, 2016

25

Dr. James A. Kutsch, Jr

Giving Seeing Eye to those without sight
Despite losing sight at a young age, James A. Kutsch, Jr went on to do a doctorate and
worked at top management level in tech companies, helped along by The Seeing Eye
guide dogs. Now as president he is guiding the same company.
By Robert Golomb

I

f you run into an obstacle, donʼt allow
yourself to be stopped by it, but rather fig‑
ure a way to go around it, under it, or
above it. And never let it prevent you from liv‑
ing your life to the maximum”, Dr. James A.
Kutsch Jr., the President of Seeing Eye, Inc.,
(www.SeeingEye.org), a privately funded
guide dog school founded in 1929 and now
the oldest of its kind in the world, told me in a
recent interview held in his Morristown, New
Jersey office.
For Kutsch, 66‑who just before completing
his junior year in a Wheeling, West Virginia
military high school was involved in a self‑
described, “backyard chemistry experiment
that went wrong”, causing him to become
totally blind and to lose most of his right
hand‑ that mantra became the words that
helped him overcome his misfortune. “It is a
philosophy”, Kutsch explained, that, “on the
long days and nights following the accident
enabled me to refuse to allow myself to wal‑
low in self‑pity, and instead commit myself to
live a full, happy and complete life.”
The journey to fulfill that personal commit‑
ment started just months later, as he began
his senior year in high school in the fall of
1967. An ʻAʼ student in math and science
prior to the accident, Kutsch, with the assis‑
tance of his teachers who read tests aloud to
him, continued to excel in his studies. “I could
not have succeeded without the help of these
dedicated teachers, and of course, the support
I received from my wonderful parents will
remain in my heart and mind forever. But as
my senior year began to come to an end, I
realized teachers could not read to me forev‑
er. I knew I had to become independent”, he
recalled.
To gain that independence, Kutsch traveled
to a rehabilitation center in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, where he learned Braille and
other skills necessary to function as a blind
person. It proved to be a life changing experi‑

James Kutsch with his current
Seeing Eye dog, Vegas.
(Photos courtesy The Seeing Eye)

ence. “Having the ability to read without the
assistance of others reopened the doors of
independent learning. That for me was the
greatest gift I could receive”, he stated. The
next year he enrolled at West Virginia
University (WVU).
It was then at the end of his freshmen year
at WVU that Kutsch had his second life chang‑
ing experience. Kutsch, who told me his
favorite show as a child was about a seeing
eye German Shepherd, traveled to Seeing Eye,
Inc.‑ the same organization he now heads‑to
be matched up with his first seeing eye dog,
Sheba. “It was my memories of watching the
show ʻAtta Girl Kellyʼ that I believe primed me
for having a guide dog…. Just as learning
Braille had given me the ability to read inde‑
pendently, Sheba provided me with the free‑
dom to travel and move about more easily”,
he explained.
With Sheba at his side (over the past 47
years he has had eight replacement dogs),
Kutsch continued his studies at WVU, earning
a BA in psychology in 1972 and an MS in
computer science one year later. From WVU,
Kutsch moved on to the University of Illinois
(UVI); there, in 1975, as part of his doctoral
work in computer science, he designed the
first talking computer for blind computer
users.
While that invention at the time was viewed
throughout the technological industry as
being revolutionary, Kutsch downplayed his
role in inventing it. He explained that he had
designed and subsequently published an arti‑
cle in a professional journal about the talking
computer for solely academic purposes; he
also noted that after the article was published,
several private technology companies which
during the same time frame had been work‑
ing on similar templates of their own, manu‑
factured and internationally marketed talking
computers. “It was these companies, and not
me which were responsible for making this
then cutting edge technology widely available
{to people who are blind},” he told me.
Kutsch, however, could not downplay
another achievement, this of a personal
nature, which occurred while he was studying
for his doctorate. He met and married a
woman he had met at WVU. Together, they
were to raise their four children‑ 2 boys and 2
girls. Moving the interview momentarily from
the past to the present, Kutsch described the
current status of his family, noting, “All my
children, now grown, have diverse and suc‑
cessful careers of their own, and there are six
grandchildren {that I have}.”
The early needs of that family were to influ‑
ence the career path of Kutsch, who in 1976,
shortly after earning his doctorate, was hired
as an assistant professor of computer science
at WVU. However, after teaching there for
three years, with a family growing in size and
number, he moved on to work in the more
financially lucrative private industry, serving
in vice president level positions first at AT&T

James Kutsch speaking at Seeing Eye, the organization he heads.
and later at Convergys Labs.
That not one of these positions had any
direct connection to the needs of people who
are blind was not purely a case of happen‑
stance for Kutsch. “People with a disability, on
both personal and professional levels, do not
want to be defined or limited by their given
physical restrictions”, he said.
“For me, that meant building a career, not
confined to only serving others who are blind,
but rather one in which I could best put to
practical use my knowledge of science, tech‑
nology, problem solving, and administration. I
did believe, however, that one day I would
change my career direction and devote my
lifeʼs work to help improve the quality of life
for people who are blind.”
The chance to improve the life of such peo‑
ple came in 1996 when Kutsch was appointed
to serve on the board of directors of Seeing
Eye‑a volunteer, non‑salaried position that
enabled him to continue to serve in his then
position as vice president of Strategic
Technology at Convergys Labs. That volun‑
teer service, however, changed into a full time
position in 2006, when he accepted the
boardʼs offer to become president of Seeing
Eye.
Kutsch, surprisingly, the first blind person
to serve in that role, described his feelings
about assuming the presidency of an organi‑
zation which had played such a major role in
his life, telling me he continued to replay in
his mind his first visit to Seeing Eye in 1970.
“I remembered”, he stated, “entering the
grounds of Seeing Eye and remembered the
sounds of the voices of the people who
matched me with my first dog, Sheba. I also
clearly remembered how during the days,
months and years that followed she gave me
so much independence and self‑confidence. I
also, most importantly, realized that as presi‑
dent I was now in the position to help provide
others with guide dogs who would do the
same for them.”

He was and remains in a position to accom‑
plish just that. As president of Seeing Eye,
Kutsch is annually responsible for overseeing
the selection and training of approximately
250 dogs, almost all German Shepherds,
Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers and
Labrador/golden crosses. These dogs are
then matched with a totally blind or severely
visually impaired person, to whom they pro‑
vide around the clock physical guidance, as
well, Kutsch noted, as a great abundance of
around the clock love.
In addition, Kutschʼs responsibilities include
monitoring scientific studies on canine health
and development, conducted by researchers
at Seeing Eye. “We believe it is an essential
part of our responsibility and a fundamental
part of our mission to improve the health and
increase the working life of our dogs”, he said.
What is also important to Kutsch is that the
job of president permits him sufficient time
to give lectures defining the mission and
describing the work of Seeing Eye and other
similar organizations. These lectures are
offered at private and public grade schools,
colleges, churches, synagogues and a variety
of philanthropic institutions throughout
America.
Kutsch informed me that, in addition to dis‑
cussing his work with people who are blind in
particular, he also uses his presentations as
an opportunity to advocate for all people with
physical challenges. “I attempt”, he said, “to
describe to my audiences how modern medi‑
cine and advanced scientific technology com‑
bined with the love and support of family and
friends can work incredible wonders for most
people with handicaps, irrespective of the
cause or nature of their condition.”
For Kutsch, add a dog named Sheba to
that list.
Robert Golomb is a nationally and interna‑
tionally published columnist.
Email him at MrBob347 and follow him on
Twitter@RobertGolomb

26

December 10-16, 2016

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

SCI-TECH

Twitter won't help to build Muslim registry in US
O

f the nine major tech giants,
including Facebook, Apple
and Google, only Twitter has
declined to help if US President‑
elect Donald Trump seeks to create
a national Muslim registry, a media
report said.
US‑based news we bsite the
Intercept said it contacted nine of
the most prominent firms to ask if
they would sell their services to
help create a national Muslim reg‑
istry ‑‑ an idea recently refloated
by President‑elect Trump's transi‑
tion team ‑‑ and only Twitter said
no.
"We contacted nine dif ferent
firms in the business of technology,
broadly defined, with the following
question: 'Would [name of compa‑
ny], if solicited by the Trump

administration, sell any goods,
services, information, or consulting
of any kind to help facilitate the
creation of a national Muslim reg‑
istry, a project which has been
floated tentat ive ly by the
President‑elect's transition team?',"
the report said.
After two weeks of calls and e‑

Now Apple working
on self‑driving car

month after Volvo got an
order of 100 self‑driving
cars from Uber, Apple has
hinted that it will enter the dri‑
verless cars market where big‑
wigs like Tesla and Google have
already made deep inroads, a
media report said.
According to a report in The
Verge, the Cupertino‑based tech
g iant ‑‑ under its so‑called
Project Titan ‑‑ has submitted a
letter to the National Highway
Traf fic Safety Administration,
stating that it is "investing heavi‑
ly in the study of machine learn‑
ing and automation, and is excit‑
ed about the potential of auto‑
mated systems in many areas,
including transportation".
The letter is Apple's of ficial
comment on the federal govern‑
ment's automated vehicle guide‑
lines released last September.
Interestingly, Apple's letter is
signed by Steven Kenner ‑‑ the
company's head of pro duct
integrity who up until recently
was the global director of auto‑
motive safety at Ford.
"Apple agrees that companies
should share de‑identified sce‑
nario and dynamics data from

A

crashes and near‑misses. By
sharing data, the industry will
build a more comprehensive
dataset than any one company
could create alone," Kenner's let‑
ter was quoted as saying.
Recently reports surfaced sug‑
gesting that the company is not
attempting to build its own elec‑
tric car, but is focused on devel‑
oping self‑driving software it can
deploy in partnership with exist‑
ing carmakers.
"This letter comes amid news
that hundreds of members of
Apple's 1,000‑employee‑strong
car team have been reassigned,
let go, or have left of their own
volition," the report pointed out.
In October, Uber ordered 100
self‑driving vehicles from the
Swedish company Volvo.
The news came after an 18‑
wheeler self‑driving Volvo trailer
drove from Fort Collins,
Colorado to Colorado Springs,
bearing 50,000 cans of
Budweiser beer.
The Volvo truck, equipped with
cameras and sensors, was owned
by Otto, a self‑driving truck com‑
pany acquired by Uber earlier
this year.

mails, only three companies pro‑
vided an answer and only one said
it would not participate in such a
project.
Google, Facebook, Apple, IBM, IT
g iant SRA Internat ional and
Canada‑based IT consulting compa‑
ny CGI did not provide any answer
to the query. Management consult‑

ing company Booz Allen Hamilton
declined to comment.
Twitter said "No", and a link,
which states as company policy a
prohibition against the use, was
shared on the website.
The link read: "To be clear: We
prohibit deve lopers using the
Public APIs and Gnip data products
from allowing law enforcement ‑‑
or any other entity ‑‑ to use Twitter
data for surveillance purposes.
Period."
Microsoft returned w ith an
answer saying, "We're not going to
talk about hypotheticals at this
point."
A link to a company blog post
states that "we're committed to
promoting not just diversity among
all the men and women who work

here, but...inclusive culture" and
that "it will remain important for
those in government and the tech
sector to continue to work together
to strike a balance that protects
privacy and public safety in what
remains a dangerous time".
The Intercept clarified that the
story was not written to say that
the companies which did not reply
to the request for a comment or
declined to comment, were tacitly
endorsing the Trump agenda in
general or a Muslim registry in
particular.
"Still, it is asking very little of
today's tech companies to prompt
them to go on record as unwilling
to help create a federal list of
Muslims ‑‑ or so one would very
much hope," the report noted.

Air India to operate more
international flights
A

ir India not only plans to
operate to more internation‑
al destinations but is to also
increase frequency to existing
international destinations that it
operates to, Pankaj Srivastava,
Commercial Director, said recently.
The airline is looking to start
operations to the Scandinavian
region with plans to launch flights
to either Copenhagen or
Stockholm. By the middle of next
year, he announced at a function
called to mark the start of services
to Madrid. The three times‑a‑week
non‑stop flight begins operations
on Thursday. On the anvil are also
plans to connect India to Israel
and Tanzania and Kenya in Africa,

Srivastava announced.
Air India is also considering
start ing a flig ht connect ing
Mumbai to Hong Kong. The airline
also plans to enhance the frequen‑
cy of flights between not only

Jet Airways promises
WiFi in air next year

Check, you may miss
WhatsApp in 2017

I

t is time to look at your smartphone, not
to check any message or email but how
old it is. According to media reports, popu‑
lar messaging app WhatsApp will stop
working on millions of smartphones by the
end of 2016 unless they are upgraded.
WhatsApp, with more than one billion
monthly users, was phasing out compatibil‑
ity with older phones in a technology
upgrade, UK newspaper The Mirror report‑
ed last week. “While these mobile devices
have been an important part of our story,
they do not offer the kind of capabilities we
need to expand our appʼs features in the
future,” the report said, quoting a
spokesperson from WhatsApp.
“For iPhone users, WhatsApp will stop
working on any iPhone 3GS and will also
stop being supported on any device run‑
ning iOS 6,” Manchester Evening News
reported. The service will also stop on any
first, second, third or fourth generation
iPad that has not been updated. Users need
to update to iOS 9.3 to use the service.
Phones or tablets running on Android 2.1
or 2.2 operating system will not be sup‑
ported after year end.

India and Shanghai but also to
Melbourne and Sydney.
T he airline is looking to add
more international destinations to
its route network as it is taking
delivery of more Boeing 787 air‑
craft more popularly called the
Dreamliner. The aircraft being
delivered currently are part of a
68 Boeing aircraft order which Air
India had signed in January 2006.
Madrid is the 42 international
destination that Air India operates
to. The start of the Madrid flight
will of fer passengers not only to
many parts of India but also to
Bangkok, Kathmandu, Colombo
and other destinations through
Delhi.

I

ndiaʼs oldest pri‑
vate sector airline,
Jet Airways, aims to
become the first
Indian player to
of fer wireless con‑
nectivity (WiFi) on all domes‑
tic routes from March 2017.
The Director General of Civil
Aviation (DGCA) had finally
cleared a proposal allowing
domestic airlines to offer wifi
connectivity three months
ago. Jet Airways is also look‑
ing to capitalize on its 19
code‑share partners, includ‑
ing Etihad Airways. The air‑
line will add six new routes
and increase its frequency on
four existing ones to boost
network.
It is important that we are
network fo cused and not
point to point carriers as
some of our compet itors

would be, said
Guarang Shetty,
Wholetime Director,
Jet Airways. T he
new routes will con‑
nect Hyderabad,
T hiruvananthapuram and
Tiruchirappalli to the Middle
East, while two new routes
from Bengaluru, connecting
Colombo and Singapore have
also been added. T he fre‑
quency of flig hts from
Mumbai to Kathmandu, Delhi
to Kathmandu, De lhi to
Kolkata, and Delhi to Abu
Dhabi has also been
increased. Speaking about
the companyʼs partnership
w ith Gulf carrier E t ihad
Airways, Shetty said it
together commanded a 17.7
percent global and domestic
market share in the first nine
months of 2016.

LIFESTYLE

December 10-16, 2016

27

You take riskier decisions Raymond, KVIC launch India’s
first branded Khadi label
as the day advances
New York: Frequent casino goers probably
know it already, but a new study has found
evidence that our decisions tend to be quicker and less accurate as the day wears on.
The findings based on decisions taken
by chess players hold true irrespective of
whether someone is in the habit of waking
up early in the morning or later in the day.
“During the morning, players adopt a
prevention focus policy (slower and more
accurate decisions) which is later modified
to a promotion focus (faster but less accurate decisions), without daily changes in
performance,” the study said.
Diego Golombek from the National University of Quilmes in Argentina and colleagues
said that human behavior and physiology exhibit fluctuations in a single day.
The researchers examined the quality of
moves in more than one million games of
chess in an online database. They charted the decisions of 99 prolific players by
gauging the time they took for each move
and its usefulness in leading to a victory,
Science magazine reported.

Understanding whether decision-making
in real-life situations depends on the relation between time of the day and an individual’s diurnal preferences has both practical and theoretical implications.
However, answering this question has remained elusive because of the difficulty of
measuring precisely the quality of a decision in real-life scenarios.
The researchers choose chess players for
the study, as in a chess game, every player has
to make around 40 decisions using a finite
time budget and both the time and quality of
each decision can be accurately determined.
The researchers were not surprised to
find that early risers preferred to play more
games in the morning, whereas night owls,
or those who generally stay up late at night,
were active at dusk and beyond.
But regardless of their diurnal preferences, the players took longer but better
decisions in their early games. Their decisions became quicker and less effective by
evening, said the study to be published in a
forthcoming issue of the journal Cognition.

Handful of nuts daily cuts
risk of heart disease, cancer

(Image courtesy: cathe.com)
London: Eating at least 20 gram of nuts
a day -- equivalent to a handful -- can reduce the risk of a wide range of diseases
including heart disease and cancer, new research has found.
Handful of nuts daily can cut people’s
risk of coronary heart disease by nearly
30 per cent, their risk of cancer by 15 per
cent, and their risk of premature death by
22 per cent, the study said.
The study included all kinds of tree nuts,
such as hazel nuts and walnuts, and also
peanuts -- which are actually legumes.
The results - published in the journal
BMC Medicine - were in general similar
whether total nut intake, tree nuts or peanuts were analyzed.
What makes nuts so potentially beneficial
is their nutritional value, said study co-author
Dagfinn Aune from Imperial College, London.
“Nuts and peanuts are high in fiber, magnesium, and polyunsaturated fats -- nutrients that are beneficial for cutting cardiovascular disease risk and which can reduce
cholesterol levels,” Aune said.
“Some nuts, particularly walnuts and pecan

nuts are also high in antioxidants, which
can fight oxidative stress and possibly reduce cancer risk,” Aune explained.
The research team analyzed 29 published studies from around the world that
involved up to 819,000 participants, including more than 12,000 cases of coronary heart disease, 9,000 cases of stroke,
18,000 cases of cardiovascular disease and
cancer, and more than 85,000 deaths.
While there was some variation between
the populations that were studied, such as
between men and women, people living in
different regions, or people with different
risk factors, the researchers found that nut
consumption was associated with a reduction in disease risk across most of them.
“Even though nuts are quite high in fat,
they are also high in fibre and protein, and
there is some evidence that suggests nuts
might actually reduce your risk of obesity
over time,” Aune said.
The study also found that if people consumed on average more than 20 gram of
nuts per day, there was little evidence of
further improvement in health outcomes.

Mumbai: The Khadi & Village Industries
Commission and Raymond Ltd. have joined
hands to launch India’s first branded Khadi
label as part of a strategic marketing initiative for the product from February 2017, it
was announced here on Tuesday.
By this, KVIC will permit Raymond to use
the Khadi Mark, branded as ‘Khadi by Raymond’ and the latter will source all its Khadi requirements from stores in Mumbai and Delhi.
Besides positioning Khadi as a “fashion fabric” globally, the initiative is expected to generate incremental employment of around 2.10
lakh man-hours for spinners and weavers.
‘Khadi by Raymonds’ will hit the stores
at KVIC outlets and Raymond shops across
the country from February 2017 and also
be available online.
The agreement was signed between
KVIC CEO Usha Suresh and Raymond Ltd
CEO Sanjay Behl in the presence of KVIC
Chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena and Raymond Ltd Chairman & Managing Director
Gautam Hari Singhania.
Terming it as a historic partnership between

(Image courtesy: forbesindia.com)
KVIC and Raymond for value-added marketing of Khadi, Saxena said it’s in tune with the
Make In India initiative and help bridge the
rural-urban industry divide.
“Spinning the ‘charkha’ has always been
a symbol of self-reliance and now Raymond
has Khadi, a true Indian fabric as part of
its product portfolio. It will create multiple
employment opportunities and empower
artisans, especially the women, in rural areas,” said Singhania.

Five ways to use Instagram
for travel planning
New Delhi: Planning your trip in advance
is getting easier with travel-enabling websites and apps being available to hand. Instagram is one such treasure trove, which
can be used to check out locations and fellow travelers feedback, says an expert.
Aurvind Lama, co-founder and CEO,
Travelyaari, an online bus booking platform which leverages technology solutions
to simplify and streamline bus ticketing
processes, suggests how you can make Instagram your best buddy for trips:
Follow locals: Following a local, especially someone who shares your interests,
is a great way of receiving tips and trivia
about the place you want to visit. Popular
or quaint local spots, cozy cafes and exciting local events - all this and more can be
accessed through interacting with someone from the city on your itinerary. Do a
quick online search on the top Instagram
accounts of the city you are planning to
visit. Browse through their feed and follow
them to stay updated on the best ways to
get an authentic taste of your destination.
Click on Geotags: These
tags display the name of the
place where a particular photo was taken. By clicking on
the location, you can find out
more about the area, including details about the neighboring region.
In addition, you can choose
the ‘Open in Maps’ option,
to view the tagged location
in Google Maps or any other navigation app of your
choice. Along with virtually
exploring the place, the map
option allows you

(Image courtesy:
dimascorner.com)

to save the location for later when you are
exploring in real time.
Put the ‘social’ in social media: You can
do this by reaching out to people who can
provide valuable information. Interacting
with interesting accounts unearths a goldmine of information about locations and
activities, helping you plan your trip with
more efficiency. You can even send a direct
message to an account after following it for
some time for quick queries and useful suggestions. Most Instagram users who post
avidly on food, travel and shopping are welcoming and eager to help their followers out.
Explore hashtags: Exploring hashtags
that are popular in potential travel destinations is a handy way of tapping into
featured festivals, tourist attractions and
gourmet options. A simple click will reveal all the posts users have put up about
the hashtag. Planning a trip to Bali? Just
search for #bali and you’ll be able to see
where most people are partying, what are
the most scenic spots, what you should be
eating and where you should be shopping.

28

December 10-16, 2016

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

HUMOR

Funny Side by Nury Vittachi

These accountants are rock stars

M

y wife says I'm listening to too
much rap, but I told her: "Imma
not, sista, Imma good mista, where
my homeboy at?"

as 50‑Cent has filed for bankruptcy, which
means that he technically is not worth 50
cents. One should never rejoice in some‑
one's misfortune, but ha ha ha you have to
laugh and dance around the table a bit,
right?

Rap "music" was on my mind when a
reader told me about blond Californian
rapper Kreayshawn who tweeted that tax
authorities had emptied her bank account
but it was all her accountant's fault.

But a question for any accountants read‑
ing this came from a Twitter friend who
likes to be known as Weird World: "What if
dogs are way smarter than we think and
they just play dumb so they don't have to
work and pay taxes?"

No doubt she'll soon tell the story in a
rap "song": "It ain't ma fault, I blame da
accountant, he took ma moola as I said in
ma announcement."
And then actress Heather Dubrow told
reporters that her accountant enticed her
to invest in a do dg y deal which le ft
her broke. I guess she can reprise her des‑
perate housewife role with real feeling
now.
And then a star from TV's Jersey Shore
whose "name" is The Situation (presumably
his close friends call him "T he") also
blamed his accountant for his financial
problems.

I told him that that was a ridiculous thing
to think about dogs. Cats, yes.

W hat g ives? Are all entertainment
accountants criminals? So it seemed, until
your columnist did some fact‑checking.
Kreayshawn later removed all her accusa‑
tory tweets about her moneyman. The
small print in the desperate housewife case
revealed that the advisor was not an
accountant: she just thought he was. And
the advisor to The Situation turned out to

have "once been" an accountant.
Accountants are a bit like police officers
and teachers: they get unfairly blamed for
everything.
When folk say accountants are boring, I
point to Gibby Haynes. He did an account‑
ing degree, was named Accounting Student
of the Year and became an auditor at Peat
Marwick. But he was also leader of a suc‑
cessful punk rock band that was so wild
radio stations refused to play their songs.
They are known as BH Surfers (full name
unprintable in polite publications like this
one). Not sure if he still does accounting.

Newsflash: I read that the rap star known

Anyway, back to the topic of rap singing.
I'm going to start a band called Condemned
Building Don't Enter so that after the
posters go up everywhere, the whole popu‑
lation will be living in the streets, ready for
my open‑air concert.
I'll make a quick fortune, blow it all on
hedonism and then blame my accountant.
It's the done thing, right?
If you don't get rap, try translating it into
British English. Original: "You ain't clockin'
me, mutha, hittin' on my honies, brotha,
Imma take you out, uh‑huh, uh‑huh."
Translation: "I would rather you didn't look
at me, sir, as I demonstrate af fection
towards my female companions, my friend,
or I may have to bring your life to a
premature close, what ho."

Laughter is the Best Medicine

BEST
RATE
FOR
INDIA
AND
PAKISTAN
New York Head Quarter
422‑S Broadway
HICKSVILLE
NY 11801

516‑827‑1010

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.

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

ASTROLOGY

December 10-16, 2016

29

Chandigarh, India: +91-172- 256 2832, 257 2874
Delhi, India: +91-11- 2644 9898, 2648 9899
psharma@premastrologer.com; www.premastrologer.com

By Dr Prem Kumar Sharma

DECEMBER 10‑16, 2016
ARIES: Calculated risks would enables to
complete the project on time. Parents and
friends will do their best to keep you
happy. An auspicious week to invest money on
items that would grow in value. A romantic
encounter is likely to add spice to life. Charity
work undertaken will bring mental peace &
comfort. Dreaming of traveling is good, but if
possible than plan a trip. Whether young or old,
now is the time to start investing. Joining hands
with humanitarian group in social work would
benefit you.
TAURUS: A firm commitment will not
only enable to achieve professional tar‑
gets but also to realise your dreams. A
promising week to plan things for your progeny.
Investment on long‑term plans would pave the
way for earning financial gains. Romantic part‑
ner would try innovative methods to catch your
attention. Meditation and self‑realization prove
beneficial. Take some time to travel with your
spouse for romance and seduction. Looking for
good long term investments, then go for a prop‑
erty which is under construction. You would find
things moving the way you want them.
GEMINI: Cooperative nature brings
desired results at professional front. You
would be the center of attraction at a
social gathering that you attend especially with
family. Improvement in finances makes it con‑
venient in clearing long pending dues & bills.
Initiatives in love bring positive results as you
catch the desired attention. You will have ample
time to do things to improve your health. You
can make your vacation extra special by plan‑
ning it with your family and friends. Value the
property at right price to attract buyers for it.
Timely suggestions to friends would help them
to solve their problems.

CANCER: For some change of job would
bring mental satisfaction. You would
prefer to relax and enjoy the company
of family members in the evening. Successful exe‑
cution of brilliant ideas would help in earning
financial profits. Your generous attitude would
contribute much in your love life this week.
Sound physical health will enable to participate
in outdoor activities. Spiritual vacation is a quest
for life, plan it and enjoy it with your family. It
always is exciting to begin looking at homes for
sale in your area.
LEO: Your inner values coupled with a
positive attitude will bring success at
work. this week you move with new
excitement & confidence as you receive support
from family and friends. A very successful week
as far as monetary position is concerned.
Extremely supportive & loving partner would
help in withering away your troubles. You will be
successful in getting rid from tensions. Vacation
full of beauty and history as well as exciting is
waiting for you. Buying cheap property in the
right location can provide you triple gain annual‑
ly. Your patience coupled with continuous efforts
& understanding will bring success.
VIRGO: Responding positively & quickly
to new ideas in business will go in your
favour. Family front seems to go smooth‑
ly as you receive their full support to your plans.
Indications of earning financial profits through
commissions, dividends or royalties. Romantic
vibrations from someone unknown would lift
your spirits taking imaginations to scaling
heights. A sparkling laughter filled week when
most things proceed, as you desire. Traveling on
your own, with a friend or with the whole family
will be exciting and comfortable too. Investing in
property business sounds very appealing.

LIBRA: Calculated risks at professional
front will be rewarded with success.
You find relief, comfort and affection in
the company of family members. Important peo‑
ple will be ready to finance anything that has a
special class to it. Love life brings immense
romantic pleasure. Your enormous confidence
would help in enjoying a healthy life. Travel in
comfort with kids to an adventurous place
might be possible. Banks love to finance those,
who invest in properties which are underdevel‑
opment. A very successful week when you are
likely to get rid from your legal battle.
SCORPIO: You will be successful in
regaining your professional touch. Time
spent with relatives will be to your
advantage. Property dealings would materialize
helping in bringing fabulous gains. Traveling
proves a blessing in disguise by bringing a love
in your life. A very healthy week filled with hap‑
piness & vitality. A trip that stimulates and gives
opportunity for work is coming ahead. A good
deal on commercial property might occur.
Visiting new places would bring a wonderful
feeling/experience for you this week.
SAGITTARIUS: Self‑confidence helps in
making an impact at professional front
this week. Family members will be very
positive & supportive to your plans. You are
likely to earn monetary gains through various
sources. You are likely to get a new friendship
opportunity in the evening. Pleasure trip would
help in maintaining sound health this week. A
luxurious getaway type vacation with your
spouse waiting for you.
Their might be a chance of acquiring a plot
from your closed relative. Developing new con‑
tacts with influential persons would help in
expanding your horizons.

CAPRICORN: Valuable support from a
colleague would help in professional
matters. Relatives will be willing to lend
a helping hand at the time of need. Increase in
income from past investment is foreseen. New
romance that some of you are going to experi‑
ence would take the worries off mind. Yoga and
meditation would help in keeping in shape and
mentally agile.
Thrilling experience is on your way, as your trip
is full of excitement You might deal in some
ancestral property or any other parental prop‑
erty. You are likely to be appreciated for your
helpful nature.
AQUARIUS: Good week for computer
professionals as they realise their
dreams. New relationship at family
front will be long lasting & highly beneficial.
Monetary gains from unplanned sources will
brighten your week. You enjoy a memorable
time with partner to cement the lovely bond.
Blessings of a saintly person give peace of mind.
Pack your bags as a happy, fun‑filled holiday is
looking forward. A deal regarding residential
property can start moving on its right path. this
week a long pending legal battle might be decid‑
ed to your satisfaction.
PISCES: An excellent time for develop‑
ing professional contacts. Guests visit
would make it a pleasant & wonderful
week. New moneymaking opportunities will be
lucrative.
You will be attracted to someone special.
Chances of recovering from physical ailment are
high. An enriching vacation full of fun is what
you need. Discussing property matters with par‑
ents can help for better innovations. You are
likely to be highly benefited by your interaction
with strangers.

ANNUAL PREDICTIONS: FOR THOSE BORN IN THIS WEEK
10th December, 2016
Ruled planet: Sun Ruled by no: 1
Traits in you: Being number 1, you are a person who
loves originality in whatever work you do. By nature you
are an authoritative person and so you always take
charge of things which also makes you responsible per‑
son. If you take some task in hand, you are determined to
finish it. By nature you are very soft spoken and kind
hearted person.
Health this year: You will enjoy good health this year.
Time is to control your bad eating habits by avoiding
junk food. Keep in mind that this could give rise to many
stomach ailments. Therefore maintain a distance from
them for the sake of a sound health.
Finance this year: Financially, this will be a good year for
you. Some of you are likely to inherit property from your
parents or grandparents. Your sincerity and dedication
will bring prosperity for those who are running any busi‑
ness.
Career this year: Honour, fame and recognition, will be
all for you, in the coming year. With your intelligence
and abundance knowledge, you will be able to impress
your seniors. You will be duly rewarded for your work.
Promotions, increments and overall prosperity, is what
most of you can expect from the year ahead of you.
Romance this year: Your magnetic personality, will help
you get closer to someone you lave, but have never
shared your feelings. This year chances are that he/she
might become your partner for life.
11th December, 2016
Ruled planet: Moon Ruled by no: 2
Traits in you: Being number 2, you are a person with
high confidence, imagination and the one who is always
ready to help others. Anyone can trust you blindly as you
are very balanced person in nature. Though you are
reserved personality, but when it comes to do some task,
you are independent and complete your work with full
determination and honesty.
Health this year: You are likely to fulfil your dream to
attain a sound physique. However to achieve this it is
very essential for you to be a fitness freak. Keep in mind
that besides physical health you must make efforts to
enhance your mental toughness. You should maintain a
distance from negative emotions.
Finance this year: Monetary position is likely to improve
as you get some commission and dividends this year.
Proper planning would be utmost important to invest the
money to bring good returns. Remember the phrase
'money attracts money'. Only thing needed on your part
is to use it your fetching good returns.
Career this year: Your leadership qualities and your high
ideals, will take you to the ladder of success this year.

Your imagination, coupled with hard work, will bring you
fame and recognition in your field. You have the ability to
take quick decisions and give the lead to your colleagues.
Your bosses will notice your this ability, and you will be
appreciated for your leadership qualities.
Romance this year: This year beware, as someone might
flatter you in love. Therefore maintain a distance from
them. There are indications that they will try to take
advantage of you. Maintain distance, as far as possible, to
avoid them.
12th December, 2016
Ruled planet: Jupiter Ruled by no: 3
Traits in you: Being number 3, you are confident, ambi‑
tious and independent person who loves to work with
optimistic attitude. You are a born leader, and you are
always appreciated for your work, whether it is at home
or work place. Your efforts are always sincere and thatʼs
why you are able to balance your personal and profes‑
sional life very smoothly.
Health this year: Persons suffering from heart problems
will have to be extra careful this year. Make sure that you
don't take any unnecessary tension, as this might create
problem in your physical health. At the same time avoid
fatty, spicy & junk food to live healthy life.
Finance this year: A safely executed investment plan
would be monetary beneficial this year. You just need to
look at all the aspects before executing them. Don't run
after lucrative incentives. Look at the past performance
of the company before investing. Negligence on your part
might put investment in jeopardy.
Career this year: With your creative ideas and hard work,
you will be able to achieve honour and position in the
year ahead of you. People will depend on you to sort out
minor differences between colleagues.
Romance this year:Your pleasing personality will catch
the attraction of the opposite sex this year. Some of you
might take your special relationship to the next level, i.e.
marriage.
13th December, 2016
Ruled planet: Uranus Ruled by no: 4
Traits in you: Being number 4, you are a person who
likes to take responsibilty and do your work with full
dedication and honesty. You are a very down to earth
person with religious beliefs. This year you might plan to
go for a pilgrimage. Sometimes you become bossy, jeal‑
ous or stubborn, which you should avoid to lead a happy
life with smiling people around you.
Health this year: Avoid being anxious, as it might harm
your health. Due to lot of work, your health might face
some pyhsical problem. Just relax and do some medita‑
tion. Keep stress far away as it effects both physically
and mentally. Otherwise there are no major health issues

in this year.
Finance this year: This year you are likely to make a
proper utilisation of your money. This would help in
bringing safe returns besides enhancing your reputation
in society. However, before giving a final node, consider
all pros & cons to avoid disappointment later on.
Career this year: The coming year will bring you success
and prosperity in your respective fields. With yor
methodical approach to life, you will reach to high posi‑
tions in your career. You will not only attain fame and
recognition, but the year ahead, will be full of activities,
keeping you busy professionally.
Romance this year: In matters of love, a very good year
for lovers. They will be having a very happy time as they
will enjoy each other's company most of the year. At the
same time use the opportunity to strengthen the roman‑
tic bond.
14th December, 2016
Ruled planet: Sun Ruled by no: 5
Traits in you: Being number 5, you are very strong head‑
ed person with friendly nature and practical thoughts.
You inspire others to do their work with full dedication
and perfection. You have an ability to make many friends
and the best is that you are known as a very loyal friend
to all your friends.
Health this year: A very promising year to achieve mental
peace by making yoga a part of life. Keep in mind that it
helps in raising your energy levels and improves blood
circulation, digestive system and respiratory functions. It
is good for both ‑ soul and mind.
Finance this year: Sudden unexpected expenses could
force to take a loan this year. You need to borrow the
money according to your paying capacity. If possible,
look for activities that are not very expensive yet highly
entertaining to keep yourself busy.
Career this year: Those of you in business, will attain suc‑
cess in your new projects and plans, which you will
undertake, this year. You will find the cooperation of
your colleagues in finishing your task on time.
Romance this year: Your charming personality, will draw
many friends towards you. You will be the centre of
attraction at many social gatherings. In matters of love,
you will have to be careful, while choosing the right life
partner.
15th December, 2016
Ruled planet: Venus Ruled by no: 6
Traits in you: Being number 6, you are lover of simplicity
and originality. You are always there to help others. You
are an ambitious person, who always climb the stairs of
success in whatever work you take in hand. You are very
out‑spoken in nature and good at solving other's prob‑
lem. The best quality in you is that you have an ability to

laugh at yourself and make others smile.
Health this year: If possible, pay a little attention to fol‑
low the path of spirituality. As this will help in handling
stress and emotional wellbeing of yourself and others. At
the same time a peaceful mind would bring a different
kind of enjoyment to you, which is a need of a hour.
Finance this year: Lucrative incentives offered by reput‑
ed companies for investment would attract you many
times this year. However you need to invest only after
checking all the details. Don't run after incentives only
look at the flip side to make your capital safe.
Career this year: Your intelligence and sharp memory,
will bring you success in your professional pursuits, in
the year ahead of you. You will gain high positions and
earn lots of money too.
Romance this year: Your family will be of utmost impor‑
tance to you, in the coming year. You can expect to
receive love and affection from them. In love, make some
serious efforts to keep love fresh like precious things.
Romantic evening with partner for a candlelight dinner
would make a perfect beginning.
16th December, 2016
Ruled planet: Neptune Ruled by no: 7
Traits in you: Being number 7, you are an intelligent,
independent and kind hearted person. You know how to
play with words. Using your this quality you will easily
impress people around you. Your supportive nature
makes you famous in your group. justice. You love to be a
leader in a group and can easily sense positive and nega‑
tive energies coming from the people around you. This
year you might go for a foreign trip, which would be both
pleasurable and rewarding.
Health this year: You tend to get depressed, when you get
too engrossed in one subject. So, try to keep yourself
busy, with various activities, instead of concentrating on
one subject or work. A very successful year for persons
suffering from digestive problem. There are indications
that you will find a remedy for your ailment.
Finance this year: Chances of earning handsome mone‑
tary returns are high this year, as you utilise your part‑
time to open a link associate of a good concern. Your
part‑time work will help you devote your full time as you
begin to reap rich dividends.
Career this year: You will be cautious and alert in taking
decisions. In the coming year, you will be able to take
wise decisions, both in your professional as well as your
domestic front.
Romance this year: Your good‑humoured nature, will
draw many friends towards you, and you will have a
good social life in the year ahead of you. The world
would appear beautiful and a place to live as you experi‑
ence falling in love this year.

30

December 10-16, 2016

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

SPIRITUAL AWARENESS

THE POWER OF ATTENTION

By Sant Rajinder Singh
Ji Maharaj
soul is sent to a life in the
human body for a certain
period of time. During that
time the soul is confined in the
human form like a prison cell.
When the soul inhabits a body, the
soul is still a part of God and is still
one with God. The soul, however, is
now overpowered by some very
powerful forces, such as the mind,
the body, and the outer world,
which cause the soul, over time, to
forget itse lf. T he soul slow ly
begins to identify itself with the
body and mind and world outside.
It suddenly begins to think that it
can only receive information from
the outer world through the sens‑
es. T hus, the soul has become
attuned to only one channel̶the
channel of the world.
If we think about our life as
watching a television program, we
have multiple choices as to what to
watch. Just as there are a dozen
network stations and then dozens
if not hundreds of cable stations
from which to choose, so, too,
there are many activities in this
world that we can engage in.
Now, let us take a look at the
other choices available to us. This
physical planet is not a separate
of fshoot from all of creation and

A

God. Most religions believe that
there are higher regions of exis‑
tence to which the soul goes after
it dies. Scientists and doctors have
tried to verify this by documenting
accounts of people who were
declared clinically dead but had
near‑death experiences and
described something beyond this
world. The question is, where are
these realms? They are not zones
in outer space delineated by bor‑
ders. All these realms exist concur‑
rently with this one. The reason we
are not aware of them is because
they operate on a dif ferent fre‑
quency or vibration.
The saints and mystics tell us
that we have the choice to either
stay tuned to this physical world,
or to tune into the channels of God.
God wants us to watch Godʼs pro‑
gramming. God is available twenty‑
four hours of the day, three hun‑
dred sixty‑five days a year. Godʼs
programming does not turn off at
three a.m. like some networks do.
It is a free station broadcasting all
the time without any cable fees.
We only need to know how to tune
into Godʼs station.
The hook‑up to God is not hard.
It is just a matter of making the
choice that this is what we want to
do. The steps to do this are simple.
Step one is to stop identifying with
the body, mind, and world outside,
and identify with the soul. Step
two requires that when we identify
with our soul that we shift our
attention to the frequency of the
higher realms and ultimately to
God. That is all we must do. God
did not make it hard for us to
become aware of our true Home. It
is we who have made it complicat‑
ed.
So how do we accomplish step
one and step two? To accomplish

Life’s awakening moments
In each personʼs life a moment comes
when we have a transcendent experience or
a revelation in which we become aware that
we have a higher purpose in this world.
Suddenly, amidst the daily rituals of waking
up, getting dressed, going to work, eating,
and sleeping, we get a glimpse that there is
something more to this life. That moment
may come when we are a child. It may come
to us while a teenager, or it may come in
adult life. Some may have it when they are
young adults, and some have it in their sen‑
ior years of life. Whenever it comes, it

If we meditate accurately we will
experience ourselves as soul. Once we
identify with the soul, then we will
also be aware of the inner Light and
Sound that is the radiance and
vibratory sound of God within us.
step one, we must withdraw our
attention from our body, mind, and
the world outside. We must decide
to turn off the outer programming.
When that programming is in the
of f mode, then in the silence we
will experience ourselves as soul.
That is the step that we call self‑
knowledge. Once we identify with
the soul, we will be able to pick up
frequencies that the soul is capable
of receiving. We can do a gradual
shift in which we go from the con‑
sciousness of one region to con‑
sciousness of the spiritual realms.
Once someone asked the great
saint, Hazur Baba Sawan Singh Ji
Maharaj, how long it took to get
from here (the physical region) to
Sach Khand (the highest spiritual
region). Hazur closed his eyes, and

leaves us transformed. Suddenly, we begin
to question who we are, why we are here,
where we go when we die, and what our
purpose in life is.
Read about the life of any of the great
saints and mystics and you will find some
life‑transforming experience that awakened
their quest. Once these burning questions
arise, there is no turning back. We are rest‑
less until we find the solution.
Before our awakening, it is like we are
sleeping. Our soul has been asleep for
aeons. We started out in the lap of God but
became lost in the attractions of the world.
We have forgotten our true Home. We are
in a state of slumber or forgetfulness that
we are souls, a part of God. We think we are
the mind and the body and have forgotten
our true essence as soul, as a part of the
Creator.

Sant Mat
Sant Mat, the “Path of the Saints,” reflects
the core teachings of saints and mystics
through the ages. People new to this path

then opened them. He told them, “I
have just been there and back.” He
was showing that the shift of atten‑
tion from the physical realm to
Sach Khand could be done in the
twinkling of an eye. Why? Because
we are not going anywhere physi‑
cally. We are merely shifting our
attention from one state of con‑
sciousness to the other. The other
state of consciousness does not
exist in time or space. They are
operating concurrently. We are
simultaneously in the other realms
and in God at the same time but
we are not aware of it because our
attention is only focused on one
region̶the physical.
So, for step one, the Masters who
have learned to be attuned to the
realm of God, teach us that we can

often say they are attracted by its simplici‑
ty, integrity, and effectiveness in fostering
spiritual growth. Although Sant Mat was
born centuries ago in India, it is in many
ways ideal for the modern seeker. Followed
under the guidance of a living spiritual
Master, these teachings couple meditation
on the inner Light and Sound with an inclu‑
sive, positive way of living.
At the heart of Sant Mat are these simple
principles: There is one God of all creation,
though people worship the Lord by differ‑
ent names and through different practices.
While Sant Mat respects all faiths, it stress‑
es that religion has two dimensions̶outer
and inner. Sant Mat focuses on the inner
dimension̶the deep spiritual essence
known as mysticism. Mysticism looks
beyond rites, rituals, and scriptural knowl‑
edge and pursues spirituality as a matter of
personal inner experience.
Sant Mat expresses the deepest values of
every great spiritual tradition̶love for
God, compassion for Godʼs creation, and a
daily life grounded in ethical values. Sant
Matʼs unique contribution is distilling these

withdraw our attention from the
world, the body, and the mind by
sitting in meditation. If we medi‑
tate accurately we will experience
ourselves as soul. Once we identify
with the soul, then we will also be
aware of the inner Lig ht and
Sound that is the radiance and
vibratory sound of God within us.
If we absorb ourselves in the Light
and Sound within, we can then
attain step two. We can shift our
attention into the Light and Sound,
which attracts our soul to higher
levels of vibration.
The Light and Sound function at
different vibratory rates in the dif‑
ferent regions. As we shift our
attention we find ourselves con‑
scious of being in the dif ferent
regions. Ultimately, the Light and
Sound function at their highest
vibratory rate, which is the power
of God itself. When we shift our
attention to that, we have come to
the state of consciousness where
we are at one with God and merge
with God.
It is simply a matter of choosing
where we want to put our atten‑
tion. That is the true meaning of
the anecdote about Bulleh Shah
and Inayat Shah. When Bulleh
Shah asked his Master, Inayat Shah
(who was a gardener by profes‑
sion), “How can I find God?” Inayat
Shah pulled up a plant and replant‑
ed it in another place. When Bulleh
Shah questioned what that demon‑
stration meant, Inayat Shah said,
“To find God it is merely uprooting
your attention from one place and
planting it in another place.” That
is the simplicity of spirituality. God
did not make things complicated. It
is simple. It is only we who have to
choose to transplant the flower of
our attention from the world into
Godʼs garden.

noble ideals into a simple, universal spiritu‑
al path and then providing the tools and
techniques to make them a personal reality.
Sant Mat does not demand that we
renounce our families or societies. Instead,
we can pursue our spiritual goals while
leading normal lives.

The need for a living master
A competent teacher speeds our progress.
It's a common sense principle of life: study‑
ing with one who has mastered the subject
we wish to learn accelerates our learning.
That's why seekers throughout history have
turned to spiritual Masters. By virtue of
their own inner awakening, these Masters
awaken others. As much as we revere
Masters of the past, Sant Mat stresses the
importance of a living guide.

By Sant Rajinder Singh
Ji Maharaj

TheSouthAsianTimes.info

December 10-16, 2016

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