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GOPIO CHAPTERS INITIATED IN NEW ZEALAND, MELBOURNE CHAPTER INAUGURATED
GOPIO is expanding in the oceanic region, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Several chapters have been initiated in New Zealand last month. In May this year, new GOPIO chapters were also inaugurated in Sydney and Melbourne.
GOPIO MELBOURNE CHAPTER INAUGURATED IN STYLE At the Melbourne Chapter inauguration, Indian Consul General Ms Anita Nayar was the chief guest. Ms. Marsha Thompson Parliamentry Secretary for Industry and Trade, Mr Martin Foley MP for Albert Park, Mr Jude Perera Member for Cranbourne, Mr Ian Wilcox Dept of Trade and Foreign Affairs, Mr George Lekakis Chairperson of Victorian National Commission and various community leaders were present at the launch. Also participating were Dr Martand Joshi, former Indian Consul General, Mr N Sunderesan representing FIAV&TSM, and leaders of the various cultural, business and religious organizations.
Master of Ceremony Mr. Nilesh Bhandari opened the formal part of the function by welcoming all guests. The speakers were Ms Anita Nayar, Consul General of India, Mr Inder Singh, President, GOPIO International and Mr Karan Narula President, GOPIO-Melbourne who also proposed a vote of thanks to all Members of Parliament, Consul General of India and present members and potential members.
Photo below: Marsha Thompson, George Lekakis and Anita Anayar
Photo above: GOPIO-Melbourne President Karan narula with dignitaries
Sponsors included the National Australian Bank (Mr Neesan V.Naidoo), Mercantile Pacific Pty Ltd (Mr Karan Narula and Mr Kunal Narula), Societa Cofica (Mr Dia Ram Sharma), Ashley Opals (Mr Ashok Aswani), Krishna International (Mr Bob Uppal) and Azurn (Mr Ananda Rao).
Media representatives included: Mr Neeraj Nanda (South Asia Times), Mr Raj Indian Voice), Ms Preety Jabbal (India Link Newspaper), Ms Sudha Saini (Channel 31) and Mr Moti Visa (Beyond India).
The event was organized in the Grand Ballroom of Hotel Windsor. After registration the invitees had some time for networking. There was light music and delicious snacks courtesy of the talented chefs.
For more information on GOPIO-Melbourne, Karan Narula at E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
GOPIO CHAPTERS INITIATED IN NEW ZEALAND During the visit of GOPIO Int'l team to Auckland, New Zealand on May 16, Suman Kapoor showed keen interest in starting GOPIO chapter. She made pioneering effort to launch GOPIO Waikato chapter. GOPIO New Zealand coordinator Jeet Suchdev provided necessary support to Mrs. Kapoor in starting the first GOPIO chapter in New Zealand.
A cross-section of the people at the Waikato chapter inaugurationn
Harish Bajaj, a community leader in Auckland became GOPIO's chief supporter and has been able to convince some people to take the leadership role and initiate GOPIO chapters in various parts of Auckland. He has been instrumental in initiating the following chapters:
1. GOPIO Auckland East under the leadership of Naresh Shukla 2. GOPIO Auckland West under the leadership of Virinder Aggarwal 3. GOPIO Auckland Botany Down under the leadership of Ramesh Gupta 4. GOPIO Auckland Downtown under the leadership of Rajiv Pandey 5. GOPIO Auckland South under the leadership of Davinder Singh Rahal 6. GOPIO Pukekohe, Auckland under the leadership of Manjit Singh 7. GOPIO Auckland Central under the leadership of Ashok Bhatia
MORE GOPIO CHAPTERS IN AUSTRALIA INITIATED In addition to these chapters in New Zealand, GOPIO Sydney Southwest in Australia has been initiated under the leadership of Jagdish Lal Lodha and GOPIO-Brisbane under the leadership of Umesh Chandra.
GOPIO plans to expand chapters in other cities in Australia. Contact: Gambhir Watts, National Coordinator, GOPIO Australia. (Email: email@example.com. Mob. 0413 880 881)
For details of GOPIO activities in the Oceanic Region (Australia, New Zealand and Fiji) contact: GOPIO's Pacific Regional Coordinator is Mr. Noel Lal who can be reached at +61-0413990184, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
UAE DETAINES THOUSANDS OF INDIAN WORKERS FOR RIOTING
Workers at a large ceramic manufacturing unit in United Arab Emirates (UAE) were detained at an undisclosed location on the outskirts of the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, on charges of rioting. The workers - from Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Kerala - of Ras Al Khaimah were rounded up by security agencies after they went on a rampage at their labor camp on Friday night to protest against the poor quality of food being served to them. Although not all of the nearly 3,000 workers were involved in the fracas, the police took all of them to Abu Dhabi and Dubai in army vehicles.
While there have been strikes by Indian workers in the past in the UAE over poor working conditions and unpaid salaries, which have led to the Dubai riot squad being called in, this is the first time the UAE army has been pressed into service to arrest Indian workers for rioting.
The workers have been questioned and their fingerprints taken. Those found to be involved in the violence will be deported after serving their prison terms.
Indian Ambassador Talmiz Ahmed said that the workers went on a rampage at their camp over poor quality of food served to them," and added that he wasn't aware of the exact number of workers detained.
Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi and officials of the Ministry of External Affairs are in contact with UAE officials.
EUROPE EMERGING AS LIKELY DESTINATION FOR SKILLED WORKERS
EUROPE EMERGING AS LIKELY DESTINATION FOR SKILLED WORKERS
With the government of India negotiating a slew of labour treaties with many EU countries, Indian workers may soon find job-hunting in Europe relatively painless. Recently India agreed to join the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), paving the way for smoother labour movement to Europe. The most important advantage for India's membership with IOM is the capacity of the IOM to facilitate bilateral instruments with potential destination countries.
The first in line may be Denmark, the latest European country to come to India looking to plug its demographic needs of young working population. In May, a fact-finding team of the Danish Immigration Services had come to India - a follow-up to the visit of Denmark's Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen in February. It is learnt that India is planning to sign a social security agreement (on the similar lines as was signed with Belgium), as well as a labour mobility partnership. The Indian side has proposed that the labour mobility agreement be a tripartite one, with the IOM as third party. India as an observer had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on regional dialogue and facilitating managed and legal migration with the European Union.
A US-based manpower supply company's "Talent Shortage Survey 2008" had found that European countries had significantly high difficulty in filling up available positions, ranging from 73 percent in Romania to 18 percent in Italy. The reasons for the shortage range from an aging population in west European countries to the flight of the educated young from East European nations. Recently, the European Union had introduced the idea of a "blue card" to compete directly with the American "green card" to attract the right kind of highly-skilled educated emigrant. But most of the countries have to still agree to implement it. Therefore, negotiation with individual countries to facilitate manpower supply seems a better proposition.
The European Commission in a policy document last year discussed attractive conditions for the admission and residence of highly qualified immigrants in member countries. And even though a common policy for EU nations on attracting and retaining highly qualified immigrants may not yet have become a reality, some of the issues which have been raised are very significant. The aim of the new proposal for entry and residence of third-country nationals for highly qualified employment is to provide member states and EU companies with additional tools to recruit, retain and better allocate the workers they need. By doing so, the EC intends to increase the competitiveness of the EU economy by enhancing the contribution made by legal immigration. Various countries in continental Europe have already implemented policies that will help attract skilled workers from countries such as India.
Contributed by Sunil Prasad
THE INDIAN STUDENTS BEST IN THE GLOBAL SCENE
Indian students are considered among the best in the world, according to the legendary Oxford University's Chancellor, Chris Patten. Hence, Chancellor Patten is calling for more of them to join the campus. The London University has produced some the best students who went on to play pivotal roles on the world stage. Such personalities include Indian Prime Minister Manhoman Singh and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia. Currently, there are Indian 257 students on the institution registrar roll.
"We want more Indian students because we want the best in the world to come to Oxford," Chancellor Patten told Press Trust of India news agency. Most of the Indian students have enrolled in the Business School. Patten continued, "About a quarter of the students are doing MBAs". He continued, "But I would like to see more in social sciences and humanities, doing both undergraduate and post-graduate work."
Though Indian students are lesser in number, they have won more scholarships than their Chinese counterparts. In 2007, they won 54 different scholarships, including the Prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, according to an Oxford journal. A one-year MBA program could cost around Rs 4 million, including the cost of tuition fee, boarding and lodging and the out-of-pocket expenses.
Contributed by Bina Mahabir
GOPIO INTERNATIONAL AND CHAPTER NEWS
GOPIO-BERLIN HOSTS LORD DILJIT RANA AND PUNJAB CHIEF JUSTICE VIJENDAR JAIN
Chief Justice Vijendar Jain, Punjab & Haryana High Court and Lord Daljit Rana, GOPIO Executive Vice President visited Berlin last month. GOPIO-Berlin Chapter President Barjinder Sodhi organized a community meeting for the visiting dignitaries. The chief justice explained public interest litigations and power of judicial review exercised by the Indian Courts.
Mr. Sodhi arranged a meeting at German Chancellor's House with a Minister of State Prof. Dr. Maria Böhmer and Minister of State in the Federal Chancellery and Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration. The minister informed the guests that about 15 million migrant families live in Germany. The Federal Government makes efforts for their successful integration and equal participation in social life of their new country.
Sodhi also arranged a meeting with the officials of Justice and Law ministry and many German Parliament Members for the chief justice to exchange views with regards to the system of judicial administration in Germany. Mr. Jain had the opportunity to discuss relevant laws in dealing with the environmental issues with Mr. Sigmar Gabriel, Federal Minister of Environment and Natural Resources. The Minister emphasized the advancement made by Germany in the field of Solar Energy, Biomass and other renewable sources of energy.
Photo Below - GOPIO Vice President Lord Daljit Rana, Chief Justice Jain, Prof. Dr. Maria Böhmer, Minister in the Federal Chancellery and Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration, GOPIO-Berlin Chapter Presient Birjinder Sodhi
GOPIO UPPER NEW YORK HOLD GOLF OUTING
GOPIO Upper New York held a successful Golf Outing on June 11 at Dunwoodie Golf Course in Yonkers, New York. The lowest score of 79 was scored by Basheer, the longest drive by Danny Ramnarine, closest to the pin by Naseer and the most honest golfer was Ali. The presentation dinner was held at Patang Restaurant in Yonkers. A brief history of the accomplishments by Sewsankar "Papwa" Sewgolum, the South African Indian golfer who defeated Gary Player in the Natal Open in 1965 when Player was the number one golfer in the world, was given by GOPIO Upper New York President Sat Sukdeo.
Papwa Sewgolum, the poor illiterate golfer went on to win the Dutch Open twice and played in the British open and in the US circuit before he was banned from leaving South Africa and from competition against white golfers in his home country under the laws of Apartheid. He remained unbeaten in colored tournaments in South Africa and was never given an opportunity to compete internationally. The crosshand stroke is named the" papwa stroke" after him as it was his way of holding the club for all his shots. He died in 1978 at fifty years old.
Two golfers were former caddies at Lusignan Golf Course in Guyana and Farook Hussein gave an overview of his experience as a caddy in the days of colonialism. We were grateful for the presence of Joe Solomon, famous former West Indies Test cricketer who scored 91 for eighteen holes.
GOPIO-AMSTERDAM HOSTS MINISTER VAYALAR RAVI
On June the 5th GOPIO-Amsterdam hosted a special lunch in honor of Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi during which a dialogue was held about the spread of Indian persons over several parts of the world. This event was co-hosted by Seva Network Foundation.
Even though the lunch was intended to be a formal event, guests had the possibility to interact with one another during the pre-lunch reception. During the lunch, opportunities were provided to discuss various practical - but more importantly - policy subjects with Minister Ravi.
Minister Ravi explicitly accentuated the fact that we should look at the future and not only concentrate on India but feel that India is proud of the PIO achievements in their respective countries. The latter is exactly what uplifts the image of India. Ravi said that if the NRis/PIOs perform well in the society where they live, they also remain the proud children of the Indian Diaspora. "One should not live in isolation but be integrated in Dutch society in order to give value to the local society," Ravi added.
On behalf of the invited guests GOPIO-Amsterdam President Ryan Tewari expressed his appreciation by thanking the Minister for attending and sharing his vision with the guests. As a token of gratitude GOPIO presented the Minister a traditionally Dutch blue coloured tie and Dutch tulips. Even though the Minister doesn't wear ties, Minister Ravi appreciated the gesture and he promised to keep this as a reminder of GOPIO, this event, and his visit to Amsterdam.
GOPIO METRO-WASHINGTON DC INTERACTS WITH MOIA OFFICIAL ARATHI KRISHNA
The Indian American Community of Greater Washington D.C. area felicitated Mrs. Arathi Krishna, Community Development Officer, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), Embassy of India, at the R.A.A.Z. restaurant on June 29th, 2008 in Gaithersburg, Maryland under the Chairmanship of Dr. Renuka Misra, President of GOPIO-Metro Washington DC Chapter. Over 85 persons attended the interactive dinner including prominent Indian American leaders and area organization Presidents.
Dr. Misra in her welcoming address emphasized the popularity of Mrs. Krishna and the overflowing responses from the community encompassing diverse groups. She traced the meteoric rise of Mrs. Krishna's political and social involvement as well as her musical talents. Dr. Misra in her welcome address also pointed out Mrs. Krishna's unique personality in helping the community and she asked the guests to contact her if and when they need her services involving PIO/NRI issues.
Others speakers at the evening included Mr. Satish Gupta, President of India Cultural Coordination Committee Dr. Sambhu Banik, Professor of Psychology and Counseling, Bowie State University; Dr. Ram Singh, President, IAFFPE, Virginia Chapter; Mr. Benoy Thomas; Mr. Kaleem Kawaja, President, Indian Muslims in America; former ambassador Har Swarup Singh; Dr. Parthasarathy Pillai, elected delegate from the Prince George's County Central Democratic Committee & Former President of NFIA; and Dr. Kaushal Chauhan.
Mrs. Krishna in her speech thanked the community for the support they have given and vowed to live up to the expectation of the community. She gave a brief outline of her activities as well as highlighted the various schemes under the auspices of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. She promised to follow up any concerns of the community in those areas in the most expedited manner.
ASTRONAUT SUNITA WILLIAMS RECEIVES PADMA BHUSHAN
Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams has received India's third highest civilian award, The Padma Bhushan from Indian Consul General S.M. Gavai. Among this year's Republic day honourees, she could not receive the award in person from President Pratibha Patil in New Delhi.
"It is a great honour. I am elated," said Williams dressed in a purple kurta and matching pleated printed salwar as she received her award. Recounting her 195 days stay in space, she said: "Earth looks beautiful from space as there are no borders on the planet. Sometimes we think we have borders because we are male, female, of different religions or have differently colored skin. Well, you don't, they are just in your mind and they are not real."
"I could see this borderless world only after I went to space, but there are people like Mahatma Gandhi, who could visualise all this even without going to space. Gandhiji's vision of keeping people at peace together is really a cornerstone of humanity," Williams added.
She is the second Indian-American astronaut to go into space after Kalpana Chawla who perished in the 2003 Columbia disaster with six other astronauts.
INDIAN AMERICAN DR. SAMBHU BANIK APPOINTED IN PRESIDENTIAL COMMITTEE
A senior Indian-American community leader in Washington has been appointed by President George W Bush to serve as a member of the President's Committee for 'People with Intellectual Disabilities.' Dr. Sambhu N Banik, Professor of Psychology and Counseling at Bowie State University was appointed for his active participation in the community for the past 40 years. Dr. Banik is also advisor of GOPIO-Metro Washington, DC.
This is a presidential appointment where members are selected for their expertise to advise the President on various issues, concerns and policies involving the citizens with Intellectual Disabilities. Banik is also the president of Banik and Associates, Family Diagnostic and Therapeutic Center, Washington. He has served various community organizations and associations. Dr. Banik was also recently honored as the Outstanding Professor by Bowie State University (voted by students).
Hailing from Calcutta, West Bengal, Banik has received his BSc and MSc Degrees from Calcutta University and PhD from University of Bristol, England. He came to England in 1960 and in USA in 1964. He spent a few years in Saskatchewan, Canada teaching at the University.
Banik has worked for over 20 years in the Washington DC Government in various capacities in the Mental Health Administration. He has published number of articles on various mental health related fields in national and international journals. He has also published two very popular cookbooks on Indian culinary.
"This is a great honor and recognition of all the Indian-Americans who are contributing in every aspect of America's life," Banik said in a statement.
BRITISH INDIAN TEENAGER RECEIVES THE DIANA AWARD
Kamalpreet Kaur Aulakh from Leicester in the UK was felicitated at a crowded ceremony last month at Leicester Town Hall for receiving the Diana Award. A teenager of Indian origin, Kamalpreet had made a pledge at 13, to serve the needy. In just three years, she has lived up to it.
The Diana Award is given to youths between 12 and 18 years for outstanding community work. Manjula Sood, the first Asian to be the Lord Mayor, had nominated Kamalpreet for the award. Aulakh is the first person from Leicester to be given the honor. She and her sister Jaspreet were born in England after their parents migrated there in the early 80s. Her father - Satnam Singh Aulakh from Malot village in Punjab - had married a Kenyan of Punjabi origin and has been working night shifts at the Walker Crisps factory.
A student of Beauchamp College, she hopes to take up medicine. "I intend to teach rather than practise," she says. After school and during holidays, she volunteers at the Loros charity shop and takes part in Lotus, a youth program, where she teaches values of compassion to the youth. Aulakh has also carried out fund-raising work for youth groups, Good Values Club and Wishes 4 Kids.
INDIAN AMERICAN NIKHIL DEOGUN ELEVATED TO FOREIGN EDITOR OF WALL STREET JOURNAL
An Indian American, Nikhil Deogun, has been promoted as international editor of the Wall Street Journal, one of three editors reporting directly to the managing editor in a new shake up. A former student of Doon School, Deogun is currently editor of the Money & Investing section of the financial daily. He took charge of the global network of bureaus and correspondents from July 7.
Announcing the shake up in a memo, Robert Thomson, who took over as managing editor of the Journal in May, said: "At the heart of our new structure will be a National, International and Enterprise Team, a triumvirate which will report directly to me and to whom the bureau chiefs will report."
The three deputy managing editors, he said, will sit close together in what could be called a "news hub", thus streamlining commissioning and editing decisions, and giving them a central role in the production and presentation of copy for the paper and the website.
Deogun has been with the Journal since 1994. Before taking over the Money & Investing section in 2007, he served as deputy bureau chief of the paper's Washington bureau for three years.
Deogun becomes the second India-born journalist to become deputy managing editor at the Journal. The first was Raju Narisetti, who left the paper two years ago to launch Mint, a New Delhi-based business daily of the HT group.
Born in Assam, Deogun grew up in Kolkata and studied at the Doon School. His first newspaper job was an internship at The Statesman in Kolkata. Deogun now joins three other South Asian foreign editors of famous magazines: Nisid Hajari at Newsweek, Aparisim 'Bobby' Ghosh at Time, and Stephanie Mehta at Fortune. Amongst other South Asians holding senior journalistic positions in the US is Davan Maharaj, managing editor of the Los Angeles Times.
RUSHDIE BESTOWED KNIGHTHOOD AND WINS BOOKER AWARD
Indian-origin author Salman Rushdie, has won the 'Best of the Booker' award for Midnight Children. The announcement was made at the London Literature Festival in London on Thursday. The winner of the title has been decided by public global voting. Millions of people, including from India, voted for the one-off award on the Internet, through online partnerships, with national and international media, with libraries, reading groups and book retailers.
Besides Rushdie's Midnight Children, the other five contenders were: Pat Parker's 'The Ghost Road', Peter Carey's 'Oscar and Lucinda', J M Coetzee's 'Disgrace', J G Farrell's 'The Siege of Krishnapur' and Nadine Gordimer's 'The Conservationist'.
The award celebrates the 40th anniversary of the prestigious Man Booker Prize for Fiction. The only time that a celebratory award has previously been created was in 1993, its 25th anniversary, when Rushdie won the 'Booker of Bookers' award for Midnight's Children.
Rushdie was also knighted early this month by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to literature.
INDIAN AMERICAN SNEH MEHTANI WINS INT'L WOMEN'S ENTREPRENEURIAL CHALLENGE AWARD
Well-known Indian restaurateur, Sneh Mehtani, copped the International Women's Entrepreneurial Challenge (IWEC) award at a glitzy event held at the Harvard Club in New York earlier in June. The award's ceremony was organized IWEC, in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce of Barcelona, the Indian Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI-FLO) and the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce (MCC).
Mehtani, who received a diploma in Cosmetology from North Carolina, did a variety of interesting jobs, ranging from airline sales rep to make-up artist, before turning her attention to the restaurant business. She had her first opportunity to open her first restaurant in 1983. Mehtani operated the Moghul Restaurant for ten years in Manhattan before deciding to build more restaurants in New Jersey. Soon, she added five other illustrious eating houses to her growing list: Moghul, the flagship for fine Indian dinning restaurant; Mirage, an elegant catering facility specializing in International Cuisine; Ming, which serves Pan Asian Cuisine and Moksha, which specializes in traditional South Indian cuisine.
Her family's latest accomplishments include the development and launch of three elegant and distinct dining and nightlife joints in the Hyatt Complex in Morristown. The restaurant and bar lounge caters to a very high end and hip clientele. She has catered to all types of events in Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and all over the Untied States. This award is one of many that she has received in her impressive career. Three women from the US were chosen and Mehtani was the only Indian American to receive this award.
According to the organizers, the purpose of the awards is to promote a global dialogue on women's entrepreneurship, exchange experiences, forge partnerships among enterprises and potential customers worldwide and to build personal contacts and networks among women's business associations and individual entrepreneurs.
Contributed by Bina Mahabir
INDO-TRINIDADIAN STUDENT WINS TOP HONORS
Twelve-year-old Ajay Rameshwarsingh, a student of the Gandhi Memorial Vedic School, Aranjuez, won the top honors in this year's Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam beating 17,854 students for the first place. This year's second and third top places went to Tanuja Maharaj, a student of El Dorado South Hindu School, and Anthony Rajkumar of Curepe Presbyterian School respectively. Maharaj passed for St Joseph's Covent, St Joseph and Rajkumar will be heading to Hillview College, Tunapuna in Trinidad.
An exuberant Ajay, who passed for Presentation College in Chaguanas, told Newsday that he knew he could have placed among the top 100 students but never expected to be the top student in the country. "I can't believe it. I am proud of myself. I knew I was going to place in the top 100 but not first," said a beaming Ajay. "I always studied consistently but always took time for relaxation especially to play cricket." Ajay added that he was interested in construction and would like to become a civil aviation engineer.
Ajay's father Devendra Rameshwarsingh, who resides in Norway but is visiting his son, said words would not be able to describe his happiness. "Tears showed everything," said Rameshwarsingh. Jade Pariag of Brothers Road Presbyterian Primary School and Jesse Benjamin of Newtown Boys' RC Primary School also tied for first place in 2006. In 2004, Rianna Gobin of Grant Memorial Presbyterian Primary School placed first while Danielle Stewart of St Gabriel Girls' RC Primary School did so in 2005.
Contributed by Deosaran Bisnath
PIO IN UK QUALFIES TO BECOME BRITAIN'S YOUNGEST DOCTOR
At the age of 22, Indian-origin Heenal Raichura has qualified to become Britain's youngest doctor and is all set to practice medicine. Daughter of Nalin and Shobhna Raichura, Heenal was accepted into university to study medicine in 2002 when she was 16. Six years later she has passed her degree and is all set to start work at University College London Hospital where she hopes to become a surgeon.
Heenal said that, "It's quite a surreal feeling to actually, finally, become a doctor after six years of a degree. To finally come out at the end and say, 'I'm a doctor', my childhood dream, is an indescribable feeling. "My parents tell stories about how I would come over and put my head against their chest because I didn't have a stethoscope to play with. I was always interested in trying to figure out what was going wrong with the body." Her proud father Nalin, 65, said: "She encountered immense difficulty in finding universities that would accept her at the age of 16 because the minimum age at entry is 17 years 6 months."
She was offered a place to study medicine at St George's University in London where six years later she has graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree. She received her degree at a presentation ceremony in June and is believed to be Britain's youngest doctor. On top of the normal five years of medical study Heenal also spent an extra year to get a degree in Anatomy and Developmental Biology from the University College of London.
She lives with parents, who run a wholesale business, and her 25-year-old sister Sonia.
Contributed by Raj Lakha .
NEWS OF INTEREST TO NRIs AND PIOs AROUND THE WORLD
NOMINATIONS INVITED FOR BHARATVANSHI GAURAV SAMMAN 2009
Nominations are invited for the Bharatvanshi Gaurav Samman - 2009 from eminent personalities of Indian Diaspora by Antar-Rashtriya Sahayog Nyas (Trust for international co-operation). The Award carries Rs. one lakh in cash, a citation, a plaque and a shawl. The nominations along with detailed bio-data are to reach the Nyas Office at 6-M, Bhagat Singh Market, New Delhi-110001 by 30th September 2008.
The Antar-Rashtriya Sahayog Nyas was created with the objective of maintaining close contacts with the Indian Diaspora and to acknowledge and appreciate their achievements by publicly honoring at least one person every year to be selected for excellence for working for the Indian Diaspora. The Nyas honored Ranjith Ramnarain of South Africa in 2005, Satnarayan Maharaj of Trinidad & Tobago in the year 2006 and Dr. Thomas Abraham of United States in January 2008 at New Delhi for their contributions to the Diaspora.
The Selection Committee includes prominent members of the Indian Diaspora such as Sir Aneroodh Jagnauth, President of the Mauritius Republic; Mahendra Choudhry, Finance Minister of Fiji; Basdeo Pandey, former Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago; Dr. Ved P. Nanda, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Denver University, USA; Subhash Chandra, Chairman & Managing Director Zee Telefilms Ltd.; and R. P. N. Singh, Chairman S. S. R. Medical College, Mauritius. J. C. Sharma, former Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, is the President of the Nyas.
TWO PIO MALASIAN MPs HELD FOR HOLDING PROTEST RALLY
Two Indian origin lawmakers were among three opposition members of the Malaysian parliament who were arrested in Malaysia for joining a rally to seek the release of detained activists of a Hindu body. Indian origin lawmakers, S Manikavasagam and R Sivararsa, and their Malay colleague, Zuraida Kamaruddin, had joined a rally to seek freedom for five Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) activists, and 65 others detained under the stringent Internal Security Act (ISA).
The lawmakers, from the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), were among six detained by the police. They were released on bail later. The PKR party has emerged at the head of an opposition alliance with an unprecedented 82 members in parliament and rules in four of the country's 13 states. The protest, held in front of the Istan Negara, the palace of the royal head of the state, is the first such involving elected representatives.
Holding of rallies requires police permission in Malaysia. Around 70 who rallied, including children, had gathered in front of the Istana Negara, demanding the release of the 70 men currently detained under ISA at the Kamunting Detention Centre in Taiping. The children were accompanied by their mothers as well as other family members.
The official said that all except the six left after they were asked to. The rally was organised by the Hindraf and joined by members of the Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA, a human rights body.
According to Hindraf national event coordinator Kannan Ramasamy, they gathered to appeal to the King Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin to advise Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar to release all the ISA detainees.
Five Hindraf leaders - M Manoharan, P Uthayakumar, V Ganabatirau, R Kengadharan and K Vasantha Kumar - are serving two-year jail terms under ISA after they organized a protest rally on Nov 25 last year alleging discrimination against the two million-plus Tamil Hindus in jobs and education. They also alleged that over 35,000 Hindu shrines had been demolished in the last five decades.
Appeals for the release of the "Hindraf-5" from abroad and from different quarters within the country, including members of ruling coalition Barisan Nasional, have not been heeded by the government. The royal head of the state issued a decree in April to confirm the detention of the five and directed that they serve their full two-year terms.
SOUTH AFRICAN INDIAN COUPLE MOVES DURBAN COURT OVER RACIAL SLUR
A young Indian couple, allegedly targeted with racial slurs for six months by their African neighbors who called them ''coolies'' and told them to ''go back to India'', have made very emotional appeal to Equality Court in the South African city of Durban. Gopaul Mohun and his wife, Radhika, residents of Amanzimtoti, south of Durban, told the court that they had been insulted by their neighbor Msizi Joel Mosondo and his family for the past six months.
''They said we were cane cutters and that is all we are fit for,'' Mohun said in the papers filed in the court.
''Mr Masondo said he was oppressed and that he fought for this country and that Indians only benefited from his hard work,'' he said.
Masondo's wife said: ''You coolie, go back to India where you belong,'' Mohun alleged.
''The family uses derogatory racial words and phrases and tells neighbors about 'these Indians','' he said. Mohun told the court that he had twice tried to serve warning notices on the Masondo family but they had refused to accept it.
''He and his family continue to make violent threats...on me and my family despite my attempt to bring peace. The police told me that Masondo's wife had refused to allow her husband to accept the notices and said that she doesn't care about me because I am a nuisance to them,'' he said.
But Masondo, in a brief affidavit, replied that Mohun was the ''trouble maker''.
''Therefore, while the case and investigation is going I'm not responding to anybody like Mr Gopaul who brews trouble now and again and talks too much'', said Masondo.
South Africa has recently witnessed heightened racial tensions with renewed xenophobic attacks that has left more than 63 people killed and displaced over 70 000
SIKHS MARCH TO PROTEST HATE CRIMES IN NEW YORK
The Sikh community in New York marched through the streets in Queens Borough protesting a spate of hate crimes against Sikh school students and calling upon the Department of Education in the city to take proactive action to stop the menace.
Nearly 200 people on Monday marched from the two gurdwaras in Richmond Hill, which has a large Sikh population, to the Richmond Hill High School, where Jagmohan Singh Premi, 18, was punched in the face June 3 after a student tried to remove his patka (smaller turban). School authorities suspended the attacker from the school soon after.
Within a week of that incident, Gurprit Kaur, a 12-year-old student at Public School 219 in Flushing, discovered that a fellow student had cut off a portion of her religiously-mandated uncut hair.
Last year, 15-year-old Harpal Singh Vacher's turban was yanked off and his hair sheared with scissors by a fellow student in a school in Elmhurst, also in Queens. The attacker was later convicted of hate crime.
Sikh men have become targets of bias crimes because of their distinctive look, more so after 9/11. The Sikh Coalition, a New York-based advocacy and rights group, released a report in April which said that almost 60 percent of the 400 Sikh students surveyed had suffered bias-based harassment or violence in city schools.
John Liu, New York City Council Member who is on the Council's Education Committee addressed the protesters. "Continuing inaction by the department of education in the face of repeated bias attacks in our public schools is utterly reprehensible, not only because of the bigotry and hate involved but also because the department refuses to acknowledge the magnitude of this persistent problem," Liu said.
In both Premi and Vacher's case, he said, the department ignored warning signs and pleas for help from the victims.
New York City Schools chancellor Joe Klein had earlier met the Sikh community and said new bias regulations were being implemented.
The protest coordinator Sonny Singh, however, said the education department is reactive - it takes action only after an incident. "But the community wants it to be proactive to prevent hate crimes. And we have resolved to keep taking to the streets to achieve our aim," Singh said.
CANADIAN IMMIGRATION IN EXCHANGE FOR INVESTMENT
Immigration to Canada takes more than three years. But people desiring to invest Canadian $400,000 can get a fast track permanent residency or even Canadian citizenship in much lesser time under the investor category.
Renaissance Capital Inc. (RCI), a Montreal-based investment facilitator has been helping investors 'jump-the-queue.' RCI has been approved by the Quebec government in Canada. The investor can deposit $400,000 in government bonds, securities or in some social programs and businesses. If an investor does not have all that money, RCI can arrange a loan provided the immigrant pays non-refundable Canadian $120,000. The agency obtains all clearances from the federal and provincial governments concerned on behalf of the investors. An investor can buy land and do his/her own farming. About 3000 people have already taken advantage of the investor category and migrated to Canada.
DRIVING LICENSES TO OCIs IN GURGAON
The district administration in Gurgaon has announced that it would issue Indian driving licenses to Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs), treating them on par with non-resident Indians (NRIs). Children of OCIs can also be enrolled in any educational institution here, just like NRI children are. OCIs are essentially foreign nationals and have been denied this privilege so far. This announcement makes Gurgaon as one of the select cities which give same benefits to OCIs and NRIs.
Gurgaon has many multinational companies (MNCs) which employ NRIs, foreign nationals as well as OCI card holders; their stay could be either for business purpose, or because of the project period of the company for which they work.
Under the OCI scheme, persons of Indian origin who were once citizens of India are eligible to become OCIs. When in India, they are not required to report to the police or other foreign office for any length of their stay in India, nor do they require employment visa to work in the private sector. However, they are not allowed to hold government jobs. They also cannot acquire agriculture and plantation land.
BRUTAL AND CALLOUS MURDER OF A LIQUOR SHOP OWNER IN NEW ZEALAND
The Indian community in New Zealand was shocked at brutal and callous murder of a Liquor shop owner Mr. Navtej Singh in Manurewa, Auckland recently.
Navtej Singh, after being shot, started bleeding profusely and desperately called for help as reported by the media. However, the police took longer time to reach the premises where the victim was lying, delayed the entry of paramedics. The delay cost the victim his life, making Singh's young wife prematurely widow.
In the last few years, a number of people of the same fraternity have been killed and a large number of people have been gruesomely attacked, some suffering severe and lifelong injuries. Despite the numerous complaints by the community leaders, no official inquiry has been carried out against the police for their lack of prompt response and negligence in discharging their duties prudently.
BRITISH GOVT. SCRAPS BONDS FOR FAMILY VISITORS AND ALLOWS PROFESSIONALS TO RETURN
The British government had a controversial proposal to introduce financial bonds for people visiting their relatives in Britain. The South Asian community led by the Indian community campaigned strongly against the proposal forcing the Government to withdraw the proposal. British citizens or permanent residents in Britain will have to become 'licensed sponsors' before their relatives can be allowed to visit. Sponsors will be obligated to ensure that their visitors leave before the expiration of the visa. A sponsor, who fails in his duties, can face a ban on bringing anyone else into the UK.
The British government has now scrapped a controversial proposal to introduce financial bonds for people visiting their relatives. The widespread criticism led British Immigration Minister Liam Byrne to take the unprecedented step of broadening the three-month process of consultation on the proposal to include ordinary people in India.
The government said visitors will now be allowed to stay for a maximum of six months. While there will be no financial bonds for family visitors, those who broke the rules will face civil penalties. Under a new system, British citizens or those who are permanent residents in Britain will have to become licensed sponsors before their relatives can be allowed to visit.
"Sponsors will have a duty to ensure that their visitors comply with the terms of their visa and that they leave before the visa ends... If sponsors fail in their duties, they face a ban on bringing anyone else into the UK, or in more extreme cases, fines of up to 5,000 pounds or imprisonment," the government said.
The government has also introduced a new low-cost three-month group visa for tourists that is likely to be tested in India before worldwide implementation.
In another development with a major policy change, Britain has decided to allow thousands of Indian professionals, who left the country after the November 2006 immigration rules changes, to return. Over 5,000 highly skilled migrants, most of them Indians, had left Britain following the changes that were challenged in the High Court. On April 8 this year, the court ruled that the November 2006 changes could not be applied retrospectively.
Amit Kapadia, executive director of the HSMP Forum that successfully led the legal challenge, said: "We are happy to have fulfilled our commitment in ensuring those affected by the November 2006 illegal changes are able to return back to UK with due honour... Even the time they spent in their home country after the changes would be counted towards the settlement criteria on their return to UK."
He said the forum will closely monitor the implementation of the court's judgment and would work with officials to ensure that all affected professionals were treated with respect and dignity in restoring their status as highly skilled migrants in the UK.
WELFARE FUND TO ASSIST BLUE COLLAR WORKERS
The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) is assessing the feasibility of setting up a welfare fund to assist blue collar workers and other Indian expatriates who are low paid laborers, destitutes or could be in jail for overstaying in countries in the Meddle East.
In the Gulf region, there are four million Indian workers who annually remit as much as $5 billion back to India. MOIA has various proposals to fund the scheme, such as higher fee for a no-objection stamp on emigration clearance required (ECR) passports. Emigration clearance is required for most of the countries in the Middle East. There is a dire need for funds for welfare activities such as the repatriation and medical treatment.
INDIANS HIGH ON DEMAND IN SAUDI MEDICAL AND IT SECTORS
There is tremendous scope for Indian professionals, especially in the medical and IT sectors of Saudi Arabia, which hopes to meet its requirements by bringing workforce, an official has said.
"We are looking towards India to meet our requirements for nurses, technicians, pharmacists, physicians and specialists, especially for our neonatal, intensive care, oncology, physiotherapy and other departments," Sami Mohammed Badawood, director general of health in Jeddah, said.
He was addressing the annual meeting of Indo-Saudi Medical Forum in Jeddah, which also marked a farewell reception for Indian Consul General Ausaf Sayeed.
As many as 600 Saudis were enrolled for medical education in India last year and this figure could go up to 6,000 in the coming years, Sayeed was quoted as saying in a Saudi newspaper.
He also called for equalization of Indian degrees in this part of the world reminding that India's booming economy, which currently offered lucrative job offer, might prevent its people from moving out of the country if they were not treated at par with others in terms of salaries and positions overseas.
US GOVT SUES COMPANY FOR NOT HIRING SIKH FOR HIS LOOKS
A Texas company has been sued for religious discrimination by the United States government after it did not hire a Sikh who refused to shave his beard and take off his turban. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is seeking punitive damages for Sukhdev Singh Brar, a certified security officer in the Dallas area, apart from back pay and compensation for pain and suffering caused to him. Brar applied for a job at the Champion National Security Firm in Richardson in October 2005.
"When I finished applying, she (a company representative) called me for an interview, and told me, 'I'm going to hire you, but you have to shave and take off your turban,'" he was quoted as saying by CBS.
Brar says he told the representative what she was saying was against federal law and his religion. "I cannot cut my hair. I cannot take off my turban," he said.
"She told me, 'This is our company policy and we cannot change our company policy.'"
The government wants the court to order the company to change its hiring practices.
"Essentially, they're asking, demanding someone give up their deeply held religious beliefs for a job. In that regard, I think it's very egregious," said Bill Backhaus, EEOC.
Before the EEOC filed the lawsuit against Champion National Security, it tried to resolve the case. But the government said the company wouldn't budge.
Since the 9/11 terror attacks, the government says there have been more than 1,000 cases involving people from the Mid-East or South Asia, the CBS reported.
GOPIO LIFE MEMBERSHIP AND CHAPTER FORMATION
GOPIO is a non-partisan, non-sectarian global organization with chapters in several countries, actively promoting the interests of people of Indian origin worldwide by monitoring and addressing current critical issues of concern, and by enhancing cooperation and communication between groups of Indians living in various countries.
GOPIO Individual Life membership is open to all who believe in the mission of GOPIO. The one-time fee is $5,000 for Platinum Life Membership, $2,500 for Gold Life Membership and $1,500 Silver Life Membership and half the amount for each category for those from developing countries and India.
GOPIO is looking forward to opening chapters in all major cities of the world so as to network people of Indian origin all over the world. If you do not have chapter in your city, please visit GOPIO website
http://www.gopio.net/chapter_initiative.htm) and get details of chapter initiation . Process involves sending a letter of intent to start a chapter by a committee of five people or more. For more information, contact:
GOPIO Secretary General - Ashook Ramsaran, New York City, Tel: 718/939-8194, E-mail: email@example.com
NEW LIFE MEMBER
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Chief Editor: Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman, GOPIO (Stamford, CT, USA)
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Contributors of this issue: Inder Singh (USA), Karan Narula (Australia), Bina Mahabir (USA), Deosaran Bisnath (Trinidad & Tobago), Dr. Renu Mishra (USA), Sunil Prasad (Belgium), Sat Sukdeo (USA), Barjinder Sodhi (Germany), Raj Lakha (UK), Harish Bajaj and Suman Kapoor (New Zealand) and Ryan Tewari (The Netherlands)
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