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Monday, December 28, 2009

AVATAR – a movie about co-existence

When it comes to visual effects, Avatar is the mother of all movies. However, it could have been made in two hours without losing an ounce of amazement. This movie is a good expression of living in harmony with nature exemplified by the indigenous people of Pandora. I would see this movie a few more times to absorb the special effects, nature, harmony, romance, beauty, thoughtfulness and the message of co-existence, aka Pluralism*.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mike Ghouse to Speak at Parliament of Worlds Religions

DALLAS – (November 28, 2009) – Mike Ghouse, board member of The Memnosyne Foundation, has been invited to speak at the Council for a Parliament of the World Religions in Melbourne, Australia. Co-Founder and President of The Memnosyne Foundation, Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk, made the announcement recently.

Continued - http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2009/11/mike-ghouse-to-speak-at-parliament-of.html


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Vande Matram Controversy

Vande Mataram Controversy

Mike Ghouse

Vande Mataram is one of the many National songs of India, whereas, the National Anthem of India is: Jana Gana Mana Adhi Nayaka Jaya hai  

Thank God for our Democracy, where no one should be compelled to sing anything or coerced to do anything.

The divisive forces in India demand that Vande Mataram be made compulsory, this goes against the very essence of democracy; which is freedom to agree and freedom to dissent. Fascism on the other hand is forcing conformity.

These forces need to respect our democracy which has given them the freedom to speak. Had Indira Gandhi succeeded in her emergency rule, they all would have been shut out. They should be grateful that our democracy is a vibrant one and take pride in the values of freedom enshrined in our constitution.

Vande Mataram includes the following lines;

Mother I kiss thy feet,
Mother, to thee I bow.

To thee I call Mother and Lord!
Though who savest, arise and save!

When Prophet Muhammad was asked, who is the most important person in one’s life, that they need to care for and serve, he responds Mother and repeats it two more times. Such is the value placed on Mother in Islam. He goes on to say that your paradise lays under the feet of your mother.

Muslims believe in giving utmost respect to their mothers, but when it comes to worship, it is God alone they worship and that is their right. Muslims don’t even worship the Prophet, they don’t even seek help from him, they believe in asking the God who is eternal, all knowing, omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent.

Islam requires one to respect the laws of their nation, and Muslims deeply respect that value. Of course you will always find violators in every community with no exception.

Singing Vande Mataram does not automatically make one a patriotic person but respecting every Indian who is a product of her soil does. Let every Indian be free to believe what s/he believes, as long as that person is not pushing you out of your space, rob the food off your plate or hurt your loved ones, let’s learn to live and let live.

Singing Vande Mataram does not guaranty prosperity to India or improve one’s health, job situation, education or well being of her people.

The need to push it on Muslims is clearly to create chaos and appeal the fanatics to line up with them for flaunting one’s love for thier mother. Mothers know best, she does not differentiate between a show-off son and a quite daughter; she loves the same in crises.

Positive patriotism is doing what is good for the nation without disturbing nations’ balance or creating chaos. Positive patriotism is respecting and honoring every citizen of the mother, without claiming bloody superiority or pushing others down in the gutter.

The opinion of the Imams against singing Vande Mataram is ridiculed by a few individuals who would like to see India bitterly divided for whatever political games they have on their minds, in essence, they are selling their mothers.

In this particular instance, Just as the Hindu Talibans have a right to condemn the fatwa against singing Vande Mataram, the Imams have the same darn right to give their opinion against it. Neither the Hindu Talibans represent all Hindus nor do the Imams represent all Muslims. A majority of Indians, be them Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains or other really don't care if one sings or not. They have better things to do than tease and create problems.

Personally, I have no problem with Vande Mataram, but as a person, who cherishes freedom, I would stand up against any one who forces others to yield to their whims, and I hope you’d stand up too. Standing up for the rights of others is the only act that ensures freedom for you, me and every one; that is standing up against Talibanic attitudes in India. If not, none of us will have the freedom to be who we are.

Would the Indians who live in America, Britain or other nations accept the idea of the Government forcing them to start their work, school or business with a Christian prayer? Are we saying it is ok if Malaysia, Pakistan or Bangladesh forces Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhist and others to start their day with a Muslim prayer?

Is that the model we want to follow?
We have a great heritage of diversity and Pluralism.
Let’s lift up India with freedom and not downgrade it with fascism.

Lyrics of Vande Mataram

Vande maataraM
sujalaaM suphalaaM malayaja shiitalaaM
SasyashyaamalaaM maataram

Shubhrajyotsnaa pulakitayaaminiiM
pullakusumita drumadala shobhiniiM
suhaasiniiM sumadhura bhaashhiNiiM
sukhadaaM varadaaM maataraM

Koti koti kantha kalakalaninaada karaale
koti koti bhujai.rdhR^itakharakaravaale
abalaa keno maa eto bale
bahubaladhaariNiiM namaami taariNiiM
ripudalavaariNiiM maataraM

Tumi vidyaa tumi dharma
tumi hR^idi tumi marma
tvaM hi praaNaaH shariire

Baahute tumi maa shakti
hR^idaye tumi maa bhakti
tomaara i pratimaa gaDi
mandire mandire

TvaM hi durgaa dashapraharaNadhaariNii
kamalaa kamaladala vihaariNii
vaaNii vidyaadaayinii namaami tvaaM

Namaami kamalaaM amalaaM atulaaM
SujalaaM suphalaaM maataraM

ShyaamalaaM saralaaM susmitaaM bhuushhitaaM
DharaNiiM bharaNiiM maataraM "

वन्दे मातरम्
सुजलां सुफलां मलयजशीतलाम्
शस्यशामलां मातरम् ।
सुहासिनीं सुमधुर भाषिणीं
सुखदां वरदां मातरम् ।। १ ।। वन्दे मातरम् ।
अबला केन मा एत बले ।
बहुबलधारिणीं नमामि तारिणीं
रिपुदलवारिणीं मातरम् ।। २ ।। वन्दे मातरम् ।
तुमि विद्या, तुमि धर्म
तुमि हृदि, तुमि मर्म
त्वं हि प्राणा: शरीरे
बाहुते तुमि मा शक्ति,
हृदये तुमि मा भक्ति,
तोमारई प्रतिमा गडि
मन्दिरे-मन्दिरे मातरम् ।। ३ ।। वन्दे मातरम् ।
त्वं हि दुर्गा दशप्रहरणधारिणी
कमला कमलदलविहारिणी
वाणी विद्यादायिनी, नमामि त्वाम्
नमामि कमलां अमलां अतुलां
सुजलां सुफलां मातरम् ।। ४ ।। वन्दे मातरम् ।
श्यामलां सरलां सुस्मितां भूषितां
धरणीं भरणीं मातरम् ।। ५ ।। वन्दे मातरम् ।।

Translation by Shree Aurobindo

Mother, I bow to thee!
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
bright with orchard gleams,
Cool with thy winds of delight,
Dark fields waving Mother of might,
Mother free.

Glory of moonlight dreams,
Over thy branches and lordly streams,
Clad in thy blossoming trees,
Mother, giver of ease
Laughing low and sweet!
Mother I kiss thy feet,
Speaker sweet and low!
Mother, to thee I bow.

Who hath said thou art weak in thy lands
When the sword flesh out in the seventy million hands
And seventy million voices roar
Thy dreadful name from shore to shore?
With many strengths who art mighty and stored,
To thee I call Mother and Lord!
Though who savest, arise and save!
To her I cry who ever her foeman drove
Back from plain and Sea
And shook herself free.

Thou art wisdom, thou art law,
Thou art heart, our soul, our breath
Though art love divine, the awe
In our hearts that conquers death.
Thine the strength that nervs the arm,
Thine the beauty, thine the charm.
Every image made divine
In our temples is but thine.

Thou art Durga, Lady and Queen,
With her hands that strike and her
swords of sheen,
Thou art Lakshmi lotus-throned,
And the Muse a hundred-toned,
Pure and perfect without peer,
Mother lend thine ear,
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
Bright with thy orchard gleems,
Dark of hue O candid-fair

In thy soul, with jewelled hair
And thy glorious smile divine,
Lovilest of all earthly lands,
Showering wealth from well-stored hands!
Mother, mother mine!
Mother sweet, I bow to thee,
Mother great and free!

Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer speaker and an activist of pluralism, interfaith, co-existence, peace, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His websites and Blogs are listed on http://www.mikeghouse.net/

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Chavan hosts Sai Baba, sparks row

Democracy Chavan hosts Sai Baba at CM house, sparks row

The Maharashtra Chief Minister Elect Ashok Chavan, hosted Sri Satya Sai Baba at his official residence. Criticism rained on the issue for using the residence for hosting Sai Baba prior to being official CM. Although many of us Indians do not like this criticism, but we have some thing to rejoice, our democracy is vibrant and thus our freedom.

We are a model to the world that we disagree, agree and still carry on the business of governance in civil fashion.

Mike Ghouse

# # #

THE PIONEER, November 2, 2009

Chavan hosts Satya Sai at CM house, sparks row
TN Raghunatha Mumbai

A head of his swearing into office for a second term, CM-designate Ashok Chavan courted a controversy by playing host to spiritual guru Satya Sai Baba from Puttaparthi, at his official residence here on Sunday.

Chavan — whose Government formation has been delayed owing to differences between the Congress and the NCP over the nature of power-sharing arrangement between them — took time out to seek the blessings of Satya Sai Baba for the third time in less than a month.

Along with his wife Ameeta and teenaged daughters Srijaya and Sujaya, Chavan received the spiritual guru at the gate of Varsha around 12.30 pm. The Chavan couple performed padyapuja of Satya Sai Baba. The spiritual guru, who spent more than an hour with Chavan and other VIP devotees, had lunch at Varsha, sources in the CM’s residence said.

This is perhaps for the first time that any Chief Minister of Maharashtra has played host to a spiritual leader at his official residence.

A large number of senior politicians and industrialists turned out at the CM’s residence to have darshan and seek blessings of Satya Sai Baba. These included former Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, senior NCP leader Praful Patel, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee chief Manikrao Thakre, Mumbai Congress unit president Kripa Shankar Singh, State Legislative Council chairman Shivajirao Deshmukh, industrialist Ashok Hinduja and leading builder Niranjan Hiranandani.

Held at the Chief Minister’s official residence, Satya Sai Baba’s visit was described by the Chavan camp as a “private affair”. Only select guests were present at Varsha on the occasion, while the media had deliberately been kept out.

Despite it having been a “private affair”, Varsha had come under siege from a large number of police personnel hours ahead of and during the visit of Satya Sai Baba.

Expectedly, Chavan’s move to host Satya Sai Baba evoked instant protests from various quarters, with people from different walks of life questioning him for “misusing” the Chief Minister’s residence — and that too before actually assuming the office.

While a regional television channel carried out an all-out campaign against Chavan for “misusing” his official residence and going against the progressive outlook of Maharashtra, renowned rationalist Narendra Dabholkar hit out at the Chief Minister-designate by saying that the latter’s act of doing padyapuja to a godman went against the concept of scientific temper “which is well enshrined in the Constitution”.

“By playing host the Satya Sai Baba, who is known more for his powers of magic than anything else, Chavan has insulted the rich social progressive traditions of Maharashtra. He has also gone against the very concept of scientific temper propagated in the Constitution by seeking the blessings of a godman who is known more for producing white ash and gold rings at the sleight of hand and presenting them to his devotees,” Dhabholkar told The Pioneer.

It was not just the Congress leader who was playing host to Satya Sai Baba. Senior NCP leader and outgoing State Home Minister Jayant Patil also performed a puja to the spiritual leader at his official residence “Royal Stone” later in the evening.

Earlier in the day, NCP’s Mumbai unit president Sachin Ahir performed puja to Satya Sai Baba at Jamboori Maidan at Worli in South-Central Mumbai, where the godman participated in a darshan-cum-bhajan programme.

A staunch follower of Satya Sai Baba, Ashok Chavan met the spiritual leader for the third time since the State Assembly poll. A day after the polling, Chavan Jr had rushed to Puttaparthi in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh to seek the blessings of Satya Sai Baba.

Chavan Jr last met his spiritual guru along with his wife Ameeta at Hadshi, a village near Pune, on Friday. Sunday’s was Chavan’s third meeting with Satya Sai Baba since October 13, 2009.
# #

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Diwali Vandana - Diwali Prayers

Happy Diwali

Diwali is the Indian festival of lights, and the light symbolizes hope and positive energy;
Diwali indicates the victory of good over evil;
Diwali brings an end of darkness;
Diwali heralds a new beginning in one's life,

Diwali is about renewal and hope;
Diwali is about seeing the light at the end of tunnel;
Diwali is the symbol of knowledge;
Diya, Deepa, lamp and light are all symbols of Diwali to brighten one's life

May this Diwali brighten your life, and may this Diwali mark the dawn of a new era;
May this Diwali purge your heart, mind and soul from hate, malice, anger and ill-will;
May this Diwali open your hearts and minds towards fellow being;
May this Diwali fill you with goodwill towards fellow beings;
May this Diwali bring peace, tranquility and happiness to you and your family.


Mike, Yasmeen, Jeff, Fern and Mina

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

India Is Racist, And Happy About It.

India Is Racist, And Happy About It.

It's a darn shame!

I don't remember the name of the President several years ago, who specified that he did not want African American waiters or Bell captains to serve him at the Hotel in New York where he stayed as President of India.

Thank God, I have been able to show my outrage to stop the Desis from calling the African Americans with a K word, equal to the N word.

I am glad the man wrote about this, and I hope at least we will speak out against these attitudes.
Mike Ghouse

'India Is Racist, And Happy About It'

A Black American's first-hand experience of footpath India: no one even wants to change
Diepiriye Kuku

In spite of friendship and love in private spaces, the Delhi public literally stops and stares. It is harrowing to constantly have children and adults tease, taunt, pick, poke and peer at you from the corner of their eyes, denying their own humanity as well as mine. Their aggressive, crude curiosity threatens to dominate unless disarmed by kindness, or met with equal aggression. Once I stood gazing at the giraffes at the Lucknow Zoo only to turn and see 50-odd families gawking at me rather than the exhibit.

On a visit to the Lucknow zoo, people gawked more at me than at the exhibits.

Parents abruptly withdrew infants that inquisitively wandered towards me. I felt like an exotic African creature-cum-spectacle, stirring fear and awe. Even my attempts to beguile the public through simple greetings or smiles are often not reciprocated. Instead, the look of wonder swells as if this were all part of the act and we were all playing our parts. Racism is never a personal experience. Racism in India is systematic and independent of the presence of foreigners of any hue. This climate permits and promotes this lawlessness and disdain for dark skin. Most Indian pop icons have light-damn-near-white skin. Several stars even promote skin-bleaching creams that promise to improve one’s popularity and career success. Matrimonial ads boast of fair, v. fair and v. very fair skin alongside foreign visas and advanced university degrees. Moreover, each time I visit one of Delhi’s clubhouses, I notice that I am the darkest person not wearing a work uniform. It’s unfair and ugly.

Discrimination in Delhi surpasses the denial of courtesy. I have been denied visas, apartments, entrance to discos, attentiveness, kindness and the benefit of doubt. Further, the lack of neighbourliness exceeds what locals describe as normal for a capital already known for its coldness.

My partner is white and I am black, facts of which the Indian public reminds us daily. Bank associates have denied me chai, while falling over to please my white friend. Mall shop attendants have denied me attentiveness, while mobbing my partner. Who knows what else is more quietly denied?

"An African has come," a guard announced over the intercom as I showed up. Whites are afforded the luxury of their own names, but this careful attention to my presence was not new. ATM guards stand and salute my white friend, while one guard actually asked me why I had come to the bank machine as if I might have said that I was taking over his shift.

It is shocking that people wear liberalism as a sign of modernity, yet revert to ultraconservatism when actually faced with difference. Cyberbullies have threatened my life on my YouTube videos that capture local gawking and eve-teasing. I was even fired from an international school for talking about homosociality in Africa on YouTube, and addressing a class about homophobia against kids after a student called me a ‘fag’.

Outside of specific anchors of discourse such as Reservations, there is no consensus that discrimination is a redeemable social ill. This is the real issue with discrimination in India: her own citizens suffer and we are only encouraged to ignore situations that make us all feel powerless. Be it the mute-witnesses seeing racial difference for the first time, kids learning racism from their folks, or the blacks and northeasterners who feel victimised by the public, few operate from a position that believes in change.

Living in India was a childhood dream that deepened with my growing understanding of India and America’s unique, shared history of non-violent revolution. Yet, in most nations, the path of ending gender, race and class discrimination is unpaved. In India, this path is still rural and rocky as if this nation has not decided the road even worthy. It is a footpath that we are left to tread individually.

(The writer is a Black American
PhD student at the Delhi School of Economics.)



Brownian Notions - NRI Prejudices

Prashant Panjiar
Brownian Notions

Doubly DeprivedDark-skinned babies find few takers at adoption agenciesAnuradha Raman

"Our women don't drive BMWs," the Gujarati mum told me some time back. Meaning they're supposed not to go for men who may be "Black, Muslim or White". And of the few who do slip? She thought that would be a family calamity of varying shades. Going out with a black man would bring shame, but with a white chap also some embarrassment. We like fairness in our species, not the whiteness of the other; there's such a world of difference between the two, a whole other language of being. Whiteness works best for an Indian when it informs a lighter shade of your own kind.

In home after home, the Indian in London loves to show off white friends, but never quite a white spouse. "Boab," the Patel will say, meaning Bob, who is of course white. There's nothing an Indian loves more than showing off an ease with white Brits, particularly in the presence of a visiting Indian from India. But he'd want for a daughter-in-law a fair Patel, not a white Brit. White in marriage is not quite a derailment, but it is off the approved track, which for a woman is to remain virgin until at 22 she marries her own sort of Indian with property, prospects and a BMW of the motoring kind.

For the Indian male, for an overwhelming most at any rate, white is for friendship—and sex. For the Indian male, to sleep with a white woman—do it to a white woman rather, speaking of the feel of it—is a mandatory conquest without which the migration experience is never complete. This is desire that carries a political thrust. A way of coming to terms with the richer, ruling world that has looked down on us, that we think still does; the sexual act feels like a happy and relatively quick correction of that imbalance. White sex legitimises the male in the world he has feared or held in awe; it's the invisible stamp on our inner passport.

Indians in the UK can be entirely unembarrassed or even unselfconscious in using racist language. "Dhoriyos" is what Gujaratis call white people. That doesn't exactly translate to 'white nigger', but it is only a lesser expression of contempt along the same lines. And blacks for the Gujaratis are 'kaaliyao', without the comparative neutrality of the word 'black' in English. The Punjabis who migrated over from East Africa call them 'nherey' (darkness). And still, there is no connection between accusing white people of racism towards Indians, and our own racism towards others.

Towards blacks especially. And from none more than the Indians who came to Britain from East Africa. Visiting Uganda, I was far from sorry to see Kampala Road in the heart of the capital reclaimed by local people, who became coolies to Indians the way the early Indian migrants came as coolies in Britain. Except that Britain made space for Indians to move on, and they did; the East African Indians wouldn't give black people space in their own land. Had Idi Amin not been so evidently insane, he might just be a sympathetic figure.

A reason to soften anger with fellow Indians over this can only be that black people are just as racist towards Indians. It's just that everyone says this sort of thing freely only among their own. I've never been racially abused in any upfront sort of way in Britain, but this is not to say that minds all around have been cleansed of colour, and views that fasten on to colour. But an Indian probably has less to fear by way of an attack from a white racist as from forms of exclusion from their own because the colour might not be light enough.

It's crude, bizarre even, to speak of people as bearers of some skin colour. It passes because all around so much of political and personal living is coloured by it. It has been a matter of some relief to me these years in England that I've never had to be a dark Indian woman looking for a husband. I suspect darkness would not stand between me and either a black man or a white man. With an Indian it would; she might never get as far as meeting the fellow. This is short of a statistical disaster yet because most Punjabis and Gujaratis, who between them are most Indians in Britain, sit around the middle shades of the "wheatish" complexion that the police in India use to describe every missing person. In Britain, miss those shades, and you might miss out on an Indian sort of life. Better then with someone less racist than Indian, which might mean almost everyone else.
(The writer is Outlook's London correspondent and has written Brideless in Wembley, a collection of non-fiction Indian stories set in Britain.)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Manmohan’s team subjected to American profiling

This is not acceptable, if the visa was denied based on further verification, I would understand that, but if the wholesale denial is based on Religion? GD it is not acceptable. As Americans we need to stand up and as Indians we need to stand up, and as Muslims we need to re-set our priorities of becoming a part of the American story. http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2009/04/are-muslims-part-of-american-story.html

Mike Ghouse
# # #

Last year the editor of an Assam daily newspaper, who happened to be a Muslim, was denied US visa to cover Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the US as a part of his media entourage. This time after a formal Indian government request the Muslim journalists covering Singh's Pittsburgh visit were granted visas after an initial denial claiming they had been found “ineligible to receive a visa under Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.” (For what this section of the law is, go to: http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/ineligibilities/ineligibilities_1364.html ;
It is wide-ranging and based on other sections, which are also on this page).

The Hindu
Date:10/10/2009 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2009/10/10/stories/2009101054711000.htm

Manmohan’s team subjected to American profiling

Siddharth Varadarajan

U.S. rejection of visas for Muslim journalists nearly derailed Manmohan’s visit to G20

New Delhi: A potential crisis in bilateral relations with Washington was averted at the eleventh hour last month when the United States reversed a decision to deny visas to all Muslim journalists who were part of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s official media delegation to the G20 summit in Pittsburgh.

The visas, which were denied pending “additional administrative processing,” were only granted one day before the Prime Minister’s departure following a demarche – or diplomatic request — from the highest levels of government.

None of the Indian officials involved in the process wished to speak on record about the incident, which they said was a clear case of religious “profiling” by the U.S. embassy in Delhi.

As always happens during Prime Ministerial visits, the passports of the accompanying official media delegation were sent a few days in advance to the U.S. embassy for the necessary visas to be stamped. But when the passports were returned, three journalists – all of them Muslim – were handed yellow visa denial slips stating that they had been found “ineligible to receive a visa under Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.”

The yellow slips said their application required “additional administrative processing before a final decision can be made.” But there was no indication of how long this could take. The embassy note tersely stated that applicants would be contacted “once this administrative processing has been completed.” U.S. diplomats informally said this process could take anywhere from four to eight weeks or longer.

With the Prime Minister set to fly out in less than two days, this ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’ message sent alarm bells ringing in South Block. Officials were quick to realise the political consequences of the American side essentially disallowing the only Muslims in the Prime Minister’s delegation from travelling with him to Pittsburgh.

The three individuals concerned were senior and respected journalists who, like other members of the delegation, had been security cleared. One was an editor of a popular regional daily and two of them had travelled abroad with the Prime Minister before.

“No discrimination”

U.S. officials informally told this reporter that the names of three men had triggered a computerised alert for additional verification. But when The Hindu formally asked the U.S. embassy in Delhi whether it was a coincidence that all the Muslims in the delegation were so selected for additional visa screening and that none of the non-Muslims were, embassy officials said “the U.S. Government does not discriminate on the basis of race or religion.”
They added: “Since many applicants are subject to additional administrative proces

sing, the U.S. Government urges all visa applicants to apply for visas as far in advance of the trip as possible. We also routinely expedite cases in which individuals require to travel urgently.”
Asked whether it was U.S. policy to subject visa requests by Indian Muslims to a lengthier process of background checking, they said consular officers “review each application and make a determination regarding whether an applicant … needs additional processing. These decisions are based on the review of each individual’s case.”

With Dr. Singh set to travel again to Washington on an official visit this November, The Hindu asked whether Muslim members of his official delegation could again experience delays in their visa applications. The embassy officials replied: “This question should be directed to the Government of India. They know the dates of the visit and who will be travelling with the Prime Minister. Have they already applied for visas?”

© Copyright 2000 - 2009 The Hindu

September 22, 2008

US-SOUTH ASIA AFFAIRS: Muslim journalist from India denied US visa
Haider Hussain, the editor of Assam's largest daily, Asomiya Pratidin, wasn't able to get a visa in time for a U.S. visit. From Indo Asian News Service:

The editor of an Assamese daily who was dropped from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s trip to the US and France because he couldn’t get a US visa blames the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and says the treatment meted out to him forced him to feel he was a minority. However, a ministry official said granting visas was the “sovereign right” of a country and there was little it could do.Haider Hussain, editor of Assam’s largest circulated Asomiya Pratidin, was invited by the MEA to be part of the prime minister’s 35-member media delegation for his 10-day visit. He was the lone member from India’s northeast.

But while the prime minister and the rest of his delegation left Monday afternoon, Hussain stayed back since he did not get a visa from the US embassy.

The aggrieved editor has blamed the MEA of religious bias rather than the US embassy for delay in issuing him the visa that would have enabled him to travel with the prime minister.

“I am a victim of being a Muslim and blame the ministry of external affairs for the goof-up rather than holding the US embassy in New Delhi responsible,” Hussain told IANS.

“I reached New Delhi as advised and visited the US embassy for my visa. I was shocked to find the inordinate delay in processing my visa application at a time when other colleagues took just 30 minutes or so for doing their formalities,” Hussain added.

# # #

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Diwali at White House


WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, October 14, President Obama will sign an Executive Order restoring the White House Advisory Commission and Interagency Working Group to address issues concerning the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. At the East Room ceremony, the President will also observe Diwali, or ... Read Morethe “Festival of Lights,” a holiday celebrated across faiths.

The event will be open press, but riser space is extremely limited. Members of the media who do not have a White House hard pass should RSVP by Tuesday, October 13 at 5 PM to media_affairs@who.eop.gov with their Full Name, Date of Birth, Social Security Number and Citizenship if not US, for clearance.

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The Essence of Diwali.
Diwali is the Indian festival of lights and light symbolizes hope and positive energy, it indicates the victory of good over evil; a new beginning; seeing the light at the end of tunnel and light is also a symbol of knowledge as it is an internationally used.

People decorate their homes with lights and Rangoli (explained below). Their surroundings filled with colorful light to enliven the day, to mark the dawn of a new era in one's life.

Although Diwali is a Hindu tradition, people of all faiths in India participate in celebrations - Hindus, Jains, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and others.

My childhood is filled with good memories of Diwali; the sparklers, the food and everything joyous you can imagine.
Happy Diwali to you my friends, may this Diwali bring happiness, serenity and peace to you. Amen!
Those who are experts in art, they can do Rongoli designs on the floor with free hand. Some draw the pattern in a paper and fill it with colors. There are some who draw the outline with chalk and fill it with papers. There are different Rongoli themes with symbols like Swastic, Om, Mangal kalash, Chakra, a lighted Deepak Images Flowers Trees Creepers Birds, Elephants, Dancing figures, Geometric patterns such as circles, semi-circles, triangles, squares and rectangles etc.

Ingredients used in Rangoli traditionally are rice powder and the colors derived from natural dyes from barks of trees, leaves, indigo, etc. were used. Today however, synthetic dyes are used in a range of different colors. Rangoli being mainly a floor art, varied ingredients are used like as follows: Powdered colors, finely grounded rice flour Turmeric Glitters Natural flowers etc. Rangoli can be given a three-dimensional art effect by applying cereals, pulses either in their natural coloring or tinted with natural dyes.

They are beautiful, wonderful creations of art indeed. You can take ideas from these designs and make a beautiful Rangoli this Diwali.
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Your comments:
Happy Diwali

Mike Ghouse


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Nobel prize to Ramakrishan, Congratulations

Nobel Prize for chemistry of life
By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News

The prize will be shared equally between the three winners

The 2009 chemistry Nobel Prize has been awarded to Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas Steitz and Ada Yonath.

The prize is awarded for the study of the structure and function of the ribosome - the cell's protein factory.

The ribosome translates genetic code into proteins - which are the building blocks of all living organisms.

It is also the main target of new antibiotics, which combat bacterial strains that have developed resistance to traditional antibiotic drugs.

These new drugs work by blocking the function of ribosomes in bacterial cells, preventing them from making the proteins they need to survive.

It's above and beyond my dreams and I am very thankful

Their design has been made possible by research into the structure of the ribosome, because it has revealed key differences between bacterial and human ribosomes. Structures that are unique to bacteria can be targeted by drugs.

The announcement was made during a press conference at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, during which the three winners were described as "warriors in the struggle of the rising tide of incurable bacterial infections".

Professor Ramakrishnan is based at the Medical Research Council's Molecular Biology Laboratories in Cambridge, UK.

Thomas Steitz is based at Yale University in the US, and Ada Yonath is from the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel.

The prize is to be shared equally between the three scientists, who all contributed to revealing the ribosome's huge and complex molecular structure in detail.

Professor David Garner, president of the Royal Society of Chemistry, described the three as "great scientists" and said their work was of "enormous significance".

'Molecular machine'

These scientists and their colleagues have helped build a 3D structure of the ribosome.

In doing so, they solved an important part of the the problem posed by Francis Crick and James Watson when they discovered the twisted double helix DNA structure - how does this code become a living thing?

Ultimately, when you look at any biological question it becomes a chemical problem

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan
DNA is made available to the ribosome by "transcription" of genes into chunks of messenger RNA.

In the ribosome, these are read and translated into the various amino acid sequences that make up an organism's proteins.

By looking closely at its structure, scientists are able to study how this translation process works.

The work is based on a technique called x-ray crystallography - where molecules are removed from cells, purified and made into crystals that can be examined using x-rays.

Professor Ramakrishnan told BBC News that until the ribosome's atomic structure was determined, "we knew this was a large molecular machine that translated genetic code to make proteins, but we didn't know how it worked".

"We still don't know exactly how it works, but we have made a tremendous amount of progress as a direct result of knowing what it looks like.

"It's the difference between knowing that when you put gasoline in a car and press on a pedal, it goes. But if you know that the gasoline gets ignited and pushes down pistons and drives the wheels, that's a new level of understanding."

Work together

Addressing the Nobel press conference by telephone, Professor Yonath said that modern techniques were allowing scientists to look at the structures on the atomic scale - individual bond after individual bond.

New drugs targeting the ribosome will help fight resistant bacteria
This is the 101st chemistry Nobel to be awarded since 1901, and Professor Yonath is only the fourth woman to win. She joins an illustrious list of female chemists that includes Marie Curie, who also won the physics award.

During the press conference, Professor Yonath said: "It's above and beyond my dreams and I am very thankful."

President of the American Chemical Society Thomas Lane told the BBC that the award was "a wonderful example of leaders in their disciplines - people from around the world - working towards a common goal and being able to achieve it.

"It shows that as scientists we don't just sit in our dark labs, we come together and share our research."

Professor Ramakrishnan paid tribute to the many generations of talented researchers who he said had contributed to this entire field.

Some scientists have commented negatively that the research recognised by this year's chemistry Nobel has a biological focus.

But Professor Garner pointed out that "when you get down to looking at biology at the molecular level - understanding the fundamental processes of life - it's all chemistry".

Professor Ramakrishnan said: "Ultimately, when you look at any biological question it becomes a chemical problem, because bio is done by molecules and molecules use chemical laws."

He concluded: "It's often the way with science that people study fundamental problems, like the ribosome, and they lead to important medical applications in completely unpredictable ways.

"It's important to realise that support for basic science is the seed that allows the medical applications and technology to grow."



Saturday, September 26, 2009

Gandhi Peace Walk in Dallas

Celebrating Mahatma Gandhi’s Birth Anniversary
Gandhi Peace Walk-2009

For Immediate Release
Contact: Akram Syed, 214-395-3707 president@iant.org
Peace Walk to Mark Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday

In commemoration of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary week, the India Association of North Texas will hold a Gandhi Peace Walk on Saturday, October 3, 2009 at Spring Trail Park 5964 Riverside Dr Irving, 75039. The walk starts at 10:00 AM, the event is free and you are invited to participate and encouraged to bring canned food to donate to local food banks.

Mahatma Gandhi is a global non-violence hero and a peace advocate. He witnessed injustices in the pre-independent British-ruled India and decided to liberate and free the people of the subcontinent from the clutches of the imperial rule. He launched the famous non-cooperation movement along with several marches inspiring millions of people which led the British to declare India’s independence and the creation of new states that form the present day South Asia. All this was carried out in a non-violent and peaceful manner. We are proud to remember and salute this legendary messiah of Peace and Non-violence.

IANT is a 503c non-religious, non-political, not-for-profit organization established since 1962. The objectives of IANT are: a) to provide civic and political education to people of Indian origin, b) to foster friendship and understanding between the people of Indian origin and fellow Americans, c)to act as a spokesperson for the Asian Indian community.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

India’s lunar mission finds water

India’s lunar mission finds evidence of water on the Moon September 24, 2009.

This is a significant development, we have landed on the moon and have made several trips, but this discovery is amazing.

Plan on moving out there?

Mike Ghouse

Dreams of establishing a manned Moon base could become reality within two decades after India’s first lunar mission found evidence of large quantities of water on its surface.

Data from Chandrayaan-1 also suggests that water is still being formed on the Moon. Scientists said the breakthrough — to be announced by Nasa at a press conference today — would change the face of lunar exploration.

The discovery is a significant boost for India in its space race against China. Dr Mylswamy Annadurai, the mission’s project director at the Indian Space Research Organisation in Bangalore, said: “It’s very satisfying.”

The search for water was one of the mission’s main objectives, but it was a surprise nonetheless, scientists said.The unmanned craft was equipped with Nasa’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper, designed specifically to search for water by picking up the electromagnetic radiation emitted by minerals. The M3 also made the unexpected discovery that water may still be forming on the surface of the Moon, according to scientists familiar with the mission.

“It’s very satisfying,” said Dr Mylswamy Annadurai, the project director of Chandrayaan-1 at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in Bangalore. “This was one of the main objectives of Chandrayaan-1, to find evidence of water on the Moon,” he told The Times.

Dr Annadurai would not provide any further details before a news conference at Nasa today from Dr Carle Pieters, a planetary geologist of Brown University who oversaw the M3.

Dr Pieters has not spoken about her results so far and was not available for comment last night, according to colleagues at Brown University. But her results are expected to cause a sensation, and to set the agenda for lunar exploration in the next decade.

They will also provide a significant boost for India as it tries to catch up with China in what many see as a 21st-century space race. “This will create a considerable stir. It was wholly unexpected,” said one scientist also involved in Chandrayaan-1. “People thought that Chandrayaan was just lagging behind the rest but the science that’s coming out, it’s going to be agenda-setting.”

Scientists have long hoped that astronauts could be based on the Moon and use water found there to drink, extract oxygen to breathe and use hydrogen as fuel.

Several studies havesuggested that there could be ice in the craters around the Moon’s poles, but scientists have been unable to confirm the suspicions.

The M3, an imaging spectrometer, was designed to search for water by detecting the electromagnetic radiation given off by different minerals on and just below the surface of the Moon. Unlike previous lunar spectrometers, it was sensitive enough to detect the presence of small amounts of water.

M3 was one of two Nasa instruments among 11 pieces of equipment from around the world on Chandrayaan-1, which was launched into orbit around the Moon in October last year. ISRO lost control of Chandrayaan-1 last month, and aborted the mission ahead of schedule, but not before M3 and the other instruments had beamed data back to Earth.

Another lunar scientist familiar with the findings said: “This is the most exciting breakthrough in at least a decade. And it will probably change the face of lunar exploration for the next decade.”

Scientists are eagerly awaiting the results of two American unmanned lunar missions, which were both launched in June, that could also prove the existence of water on the Moon.

Early results from Nasa’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) recorded temperatures as low as -238C (minus 396.4F) in polar craters on the Moon, according to the journal Nature. That makes them the coldest recorded spots in the solar system, even colder than the surface of Pluto, and could mean that ice has been trapped for billions of years, the journal said. The LRO has also detected an abundance of hydrogen, thought to be a key indicator of ice, at the poles.

The other Nasa mission, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), is due to crash a probe into a polar crater on October 9 in the hope of sending up a plume of ice that can be examined by telescope.

“We are on the verge of a renaissance in our thinking about the poles of the Moon, including how water ice gets there,” Anthony Colaprete, principal investigator for LCROSS, said in Nature.

Big bang

? The Moon is 4.6 billion years old, about the same age as the Earth

? It is thought to have formed from a giant dust cloud caused when a rogue planet collided with the Earth

? It is 238,000 miles from the Earth

? Gravity on the Moon is a sixth of that on Earth


# Added on 10/03/09 - Times on Water on the Moon.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ambani goes to Hollywood

Reliance Big Entertainment
Director Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider of DreamWorks with investor Anil Ambani (second from left) and Amitabh Jhunjhunwala, far right, an executive with Big Entertainment's parent company, Reliance ADA Group

It is good to see globalization in every aspect of life, it takes away the territorialism and opens up access to every one of the 7 billion of us. It is about serving the common man for the long term sustainability.

However, as a society we have to take precautions to prevent new big corporate hegemonies, and bring in the culture of public good and responsbility. It is in the interest of corporations to promote long term good to sustains its existence. Whenver, we have resorted to short-terms gains, empires have collapsed; be it political, corporate giants or others.

Mike Ghouse

SEPTEMBER 22, 2009
Indian Firm Takes a Hollywood Cue, Using DreamWorks to Expand Empire

MUMBAI -- When Amit Khanna arrived in Hollywood two years ago, few knew who he was. But the chairman of India's Reliance Big Entertainment was ushered into the homes and offices of Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt and Will Smith because they knew his billionaire boss was looking to pump money into movie production.

"Everyone wanted to meet us," says Mr. Khanna.

Mr. Khanna's boss, Indian industrialist Anil Ambani, wants to move Hollywood into Bollywood in a big way. In August, Big Entertainment signed a deal where it paid $325 million for a 50% stake in Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks SKG and the right to distribute its movies in India.

Big Entertainment's deal with DreamWorks marks the arrival of a new global player in the entertainment industry. After only two years, Big Entertainment has spent a billion dollars expanding its entertainment empire -- which spans theaters, television and radio -- and plans to spend billions more.

Mr. Khanna, who recently outlined plans for Big Entertainment in an interview, says they hope to begin the distribution with one of Mr. Spielberg's films next year.

Big Entertainment has entered separate pacts with Hollywood stars to provide financial backing for scripts, which in return, would give the Indian company an option to co-finance any of the resulting films that are picked up by Hollywood studios.

Mr. Ambani, in asking Hollywood to supply the content for his Indian customers, has essentially engineered a reverse outsourcing deal -- and Mr. Spielberg is the company's test-case.

Big Entertainment will take DreamWorks movies in the works, such as "Cowboys and Aliens," "Dinner for Schmucks" and "39 Clues," and sell them through its theaters, its satellite networks, its movie-rental service, its radio stations and even its phones.

"We have a presence in every platform," Mr. Khanna says, referring to the media buzz phrase of "four-screen presence," meaning the big screen, cellphones, computers and televisions.

Big Entertainment's parent company, Reliance ADA Group, owns India's second largest cellular company, Reliance Communications. And because more Indians have cellphones than computers, Reliance is hoping to push pieces of the Hollywood content -- such as music, ringtones and movie clips -- through mobile devices.

In addition to its TV and radio stations, the company has built Bollywood's biggest movie studio, a satellite-TV service and a global chain of movie theaters as well as India's versions of Blockbuster and Netflix.

The Indian movie business has long been dominated by mom-and-pop shops that make films without the budgets, schedules or story boards that are the norm in the U.S. industry.

In contrast, Big Entertainment is embracing the Hollywood modus operandi of big budgets, publicity spending and wide distribution. The company is shopping Bollywood films around at film festivals at an unprecedented rate, Mr. Khanna says.

Big Entertainment will test its lessons from Hollywood with "Kites," a movie that aims to target audiences outside of India. With a budget of $30 million, it is one of the most expensive Indian movies made.

"Kites" stars the hunky Indian actor Hrithik Roshan and is written and directed by Indians. But it's set in Las Vegas and performed in English, and the foreign version of the film has chopped out all the song and dance sequences that are hallmarks of traditional Bollywood productions. (The numbers will be included in the Indian version.)

The 50-year-old Mr. Ambani is an heir to one of India's great corporate fortunes, a textile, telecom and power empire called Reliance group. After his father died, Mr. Ambani and his older brother Mukesh split the group. The Ambani brothers, who don't get along, were at one point worth more than $70 billion combined.

More than Mukesh, Anil has become a part of Bollywood -- the name for the Indian movie industry based in the city of Bombay, now known as Mumbai. Mr. Ambani married a former movie actress and hangs out with some of India's biggest stars.

While Mr. Ambani is also a big fan of Mr. Spielberg -- "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is one of his favorite movies -- his associates say he's in the venture for fortune not fame.

Some analysts and investors think Reliance's connection to Mr. Spielberg could provide the scale needed for an eventual public offering of stock. Amitabh Jhunjhunwala, group managing director of Reliance ADA group, said they aren't planning one any time soon.

The history of foreign investors in Hollywood is long and rocky. The 1980s saw a flood of Japanese investors without much success. In 1994, for example, Sony Corp. had to write off $3.2 billion on its investment in Columbia Pictures Entertainment Inc., which the Japanese electronics company had bought five years earlier for $5 billion.

Reliance executives say they hope to avoid mistakes by not becoming too involved in making the movies.

"Do you think I will go and tell them where to place the camera?" asks Mr. Khanna, who has written hundreds of film songs and a dozen movie scripts for Bollywood. "That would be stupid."

—Lauren A.E. Schuker and Sonya Misquitta contributed to this article.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Indian Pledge of Allegiance

With a belief that every Indian wants justice and demands a fair treatment of every one of the 1.1 billion Indians; rich or poor, connected or not, we must come to grips with the social and community life to create an exemplary India, that will become a model nation in the world.

We have to figure out how to co-exist with least frictions. It is in your interests, my interest, and everyone's interest to have justice, which gives birth to sustainable peace and prosperity

We have to find solutions for people who go to the extremes; be them be Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Muslim, Sikh, Zoroastrian or other, hoping they would recognize the God-given space to each one of us and eventually see the benefits of co-existence.

I propose that the parliament of India introduce a bill for every political, cultural and religious organization in India to register with the Home Ministry, state their purpose, list their assets for public scrutiny, list the membership roster to be updated annually. Include a modified version of the 7 items into Indian Penal Code, and make it into the law to punish the violators of the law.

Patriotism should be defined in terms of what you do to uplift the hopes of people, in terms of education to all, jobs to as many as we can in each successive year, home for every human, and a better lifestyle to every Indian.

Every public office holder from the Peon to the President of India and everyone in between must take this pledge and live by it. Violation should disqualify him or her from holding the public office. Let it be monitored publicly.

1. I pledge allegiance to India, indivisible nation that stands for liberty and justice for all.

2. I pledge that I honor and treat every Indian with "full" dignity.

3. I pledge that all individuals would be treated on par.

4. I pledge that I will treat all religions with equal respect, equal access, and equal treatment.

5. I pledge that I will oppose any act that treats any Indian less than myself.

6. I Pledge that I will work for an India, where every individual can live with security and aspire for prosperity.

7. I pledge that I will protect, preserve and value every inch of India and every human soul in India

This would be the first step towards ensuring a Just, peaceful and prosperous India, that can sustain its progress and peace.

Link to this article: http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2009/09/indian-pledge-of-allegiance.html
Jai Hind


Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer speaker and an activist of pluralism, interfaith, co-existence, peace, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His websites and Blogs are listed on http://www.mikeghouse.net/

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Muslims condemn the disgusting acts of intolerance.

If we want a better society, we have to work for it, the least we can do is to speak up!

It is tempting to “show them their place” and with that attitude we may cause the other side to dig in their heels, we have to be at peace to bring peace to others. If we even remotely call ourselves peace makers, we have to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill to find peaceful solutions for co-existence.

The Malaysian Government has handled the six extremists who disturbed the peace and demonstrated a revolting act of belligerence towards their countrymen: Hindus.

Now Bangladesh has a similar situation on their hands - some one can take the initiative or I will do it sometime next week, I am tied up with my exams, work and pluralism events.


On August 31, I appealed to the majority of Muslims in Malaysia to speak up, and wrote to the editors and the government of Malaysia, and thousands of others have written as well - it is nice to see the results. We have got to get the majorities to speak up... http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2009/08/festivities-soured-by-race.html

It is pleasing to see the comments from Muslims in Malaysia -http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/36272-protesters-threaten-bloodshed-over-hindu-temple

The Malaysian Government has taken the action: One of my Jewish friends writes to me: "Mike, fyi. This is the kind of leadership and response that we need to see from the rest of the Muslim world when barbaric actions takes place. Bernie " about this http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking%2BNews/SE%2BAsia/Story/STIStory_427414.html

Muslims condemn the disgusting acts of intolerance.

Two reports appended belowEvil persists not necessarily because of evil men, but because good men don't do anything about it. I hope the Muslims in Malaysia condemn these extremists who displayed the most disgusting, revolting act of belligerence towards their fellow countrymen; Hindus.

I hope they did not have any connivance or permission from the majority of Malaysian Muslims. The act of carrying a head of a bull is un-acceptable and we urge the Malaysian Government to punish these loonies as criminals bent on disturbing peace of the state. They should not be cited as Muslims and their religion does not permit them to do that, they are criminals and must be cited as such. This act should not be a reflection on the Nation of Malaysia or her Muslims.

The idea is if I commit a crime, I should be the one to be thrown in the Jail, no one but me should be resonsible for my acts, not my family, not my parents, kids, nationality, race or religion.This is how nations can check extremism by singling out bad guys and taking them out one at a time, in this case, we hope every Muslim in Malaysia will support the government for knocking these hoodlums out as criminals and nothing but criminals.


Bangladesh Now

Attackers attacked Two Hindu Temple –demolished Durga Deity and Kali Murthi on last Sunday night at Kumar Khali –Kushtia district of Bangladesh. (The daily Bhorer Kagoj dated 9th September, 09)

From our Kushtia Correspondent:

Some unidentified perpetrators entered into two Temples, broken Hindu deities’ desecrated temple on Sunday last on 7th September, 09 at night. As a result Hindus of those areas felt insecure at the eve of Yearly “Durga Festival”. Police trying to find out the perpetrators responsible for such heinous act.

It is learnt that there are two temples namely: “Halder Matri Sarbajanin Durga Mandir” and “ Raj Kumar Kali Mandir” which are know as oldest temples of those locality at village-Khayer chara of Kumar Khali Upazila.

On 7th September, 09 at about at 2 A.M. some unidentified criminals broke open the doors of the temples and desecrated them demolished the newly constructed deities of Durga Devi and oldest Kali Devi. The organisers of the temples saw in the morning that hands, heads, legs of deities departed from their bodies.

Naba Kumar Dutta – President of Bangladesh Puja Ujjapan Parishad of Kumar Khali Upazila expressed great concern on the heinous act of violence on the deities and demanded exemplary punishment of the perpetrators. He also told that no civilized society can perpetrate this crime against religion.

Netai Kumar Kunda – President of another Hindu organisation told that the heads of Durga Devi, Laksmi Devi, Sarwassati Devi, Kartick and Ganesh were cut down from original body of the deities and demolished. He also suspects that some youths located at village -Tebaria, Kharchara and Agrakunda are habituated with drugs and associated with anti-social elements and they could have involved with this crime.

Another source claimed that some perpetrators are also very much active to grab the lands and building of the Hindu community since long. It might be their intention that if those deities are demolished and desecrated before festival Hindus of those localities might be frightened and the Hindus would sell out their properties with minimum rate to avoid further attack or assault.
The Executives of the Mandir Committee are very much shy disclosing the names of perpetrators because of further retaliation.

As soon as the incident came to focus Nurul Islam Ansar – Mayor of Kumar Khali Municipality, Md. Manikhar Rahman- Upazila Nirbahi Officer, Abdul Hakim- Assistant Superintendent of Police, (Sadar Circle) and some Hindu leaders visited the spot and expressed sorrows on this incident and demanded immediate arrest for punishment of the perpetrators for assault on Hindu deities.

Adv.Rabindra Ghosh
President-Bangladesh Minority Watch (BDMW)
12, K.M. Das Lane, Tikatully -Bholagiri Trust, Sutrapur PS, Dhaka, Bangladesh


Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer speaker and an activist of pluralism, interfaith, co-existence, peace, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His websites and Blogs are listed on http://www.mikeghouse.net/

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dual Citizneship Woes

How many of you have experienced this? It is a shame that a 70 year old Indian Man in India was not given his due respect. On the top of it, he was a Medical doctor, we Indians give utmost respect to Doctors. This is uncharacteristic of being an Indian. Any one from Bengal wants to take this up? Over 25 comments below

Mike Ghouse - http://www.mikeghouse.net/

Dr. Sujit Pandit's story: My Dual Citizenship Woes


My advice to all my friends who hold an OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) Card
and those who aspire to get one.

I am an American citizen. I also carry an OCI card (Overseas Citizen of
India) since 2007.

On Saturday, June 20, 2009 , I arrived at the Kolkata Netaji Subhas Airport
from Detroit via Singapore , by Singapore Airlines (SQ 516) at 10:30 P.M.

I presented myself to an Immigration Officer ( Mr. Biswas ) for immigration
clearance. I gave him my American passport and my OCI card. He demanded to
see my visa from the Indian consular office. Unfortunately, that visa was
attached to my old passport and I did not bring it with me.

I explained to him that I am sorry I forgot to bring my old passport but
since I do possess a valid OCI Card that would automatically mean that I do
also possess a permanent (life long) visa for India and there are proofs
that I have traveled multiple times to India after I had received my OCI

Mr. Biswas detained me for two hours inside the airport and then he told
me that he is going to allow me to stay in India for 72 hours and asked me
to report to the Foreign Relations Regional Officer (FRRO) in the city
within 72 hours. He kept my passport. During all that time I had no
opportunity either to approach his OC (Officer in Charge) although I asked
for it, or to contact my relatives who came to the airport to receive me and
were waiting outside and had no idea why I was being held back or if I have
even arrived.

Forgetting to bring my old passport was my own fault but I 'forgot' to bring
it partly because I knew I have my OCI Card with me and I thought, that
means something, I really believed that I am a citizen of India too. Why
would a citizen also need a visa to enter his own country? I thought I
have a dual citizenship for both the USA and India . Other wise, what is the
difference between an ordinary foreigner and the OCI Card holder?

Next day was a Sunday, I called a friend in Ann Arbor who went into my
house, got my old passport and sent me the scanned copy of my old passport
and a copy of my permanent visa by e-mail.

So, on Monday I went to see Mr. Bibhas Talukdar , the FRRO. He hardly
looked at the documents (the scanned visa) that I had with me he simply
asked me to get my old passport by courier mail within another seven days.
He appeared gleeful telling me that it is only out of "pity" that he is
allowing me to stay in India for seven more days. He was totally
unimpressed by either my status as a Professor Emeritus of the University of
Michigan or my age (70+)

I called my friend in Ann Arbor again who then sent my old passport by
FedEx. Three days later the passport arrived. Since I had to leave Kolkata
for prescheduled visit to Bangalore , my niece took it to Mr. Talukdar . But
due to lack of communication between the FRRO office and the airport
immigration department my passport had not arrived at the city office even
after 9 days. My niece had to go to the FRRO's office three times once
waiting until 6 P.M. still they did not have my passport. They only
promised: "it will come soon". At last, 12 days after my arrival, my niece
got my passport.

From this painful and anxiety provoking experience I have learned a few
valuable lessons:

1. The loud talk about "Dual Citizenship" for Indian Americans is just a
political hoax.

2. The OCI card just does not have any value. It is just a piece of
expensive junk. You still need a visa every time you travel to India whether
or not you possess an OCI card. Only difference is that for the high price
of getting an OCI card you will get a "life long " visa. A 10-year visa is
much cheaper.

3. When coming to India always consider yourself a foreigner and bring
your visa with you, there will be no exceptions. Your OCI card is not a visa

4. In fact, you will probably be treated worse than an ordinary
foreigner arriving without a valid visa. Because a foreigner especially a
white Caucasian will at least be treated with courtesy and probably offered
a temporary visa if there is no reason to deny it, but not you.

Please feel free to forward this mail to any of your friends who may befit
from my experience. Especially feel free to forward this to any influential
politician or civil servant in India that you may know.

Sujit K. Pandit M.D. Professor Emeritus, Department of Anesthesiology


Thanks to Dr. Jayasankar for providing the following information

1. The Consulate General of India (CGI) in New York (NY) is pleased to announce the
launching of the OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) Application procedures and will
commence receiving the applications for OCI on Monday the 9th of January 2006 from
residents of the following States and Territories: New York, New Jersey, Maine,
Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont and the Virgin Islands. (Applications will be accepted only through express mail. For
procedural details and clarifications, please go to link (Steps to Apply for OCI).

2. A foreign national, eligible to become a citizen of India on January 26, 1950 or was a
citizen of India on, or at anytime after, January 26, 1950 or belonged to a territory that
became part of India after August 15, 1947 and his/her children and grand children,
provided his/her country of citizenship allows dual citizenship under the local laws, is
eligible for registration as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI). Minor children of such person
are also eligible for OCI. However, if the applicant had ever been a citizen of Pakistan or
Bangladesh, he/she will not be eligible for OCI.

3. With OCI Status, a foreign passport holder is entitled to the following:
Item Details

(a) Multiple-entry, multi-purpose, life-long visa to visit
India. The holder of the OCI Certificate would still
need to carry his/her foreign passport, but a Visa
"U" ("U" for Universal) sticker would be affixed on
the foreign passport;

(b)Exemption from reporting to police authorities for
any length of stay in India;

(c) Parity with NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) in financial, economic and educational fields EXCEPT in relation Consular Press & Publicity Commerce Culture Education India Information
Press Opinion Issues in Focus Consulate General of India, New York, U.S.A. Page 1 of 3
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4. Please note that OCI is not, repeat not Dual Citizenship. The Constitution of India does
not permit the facility of holding Indian Citizenship simultaneously with a foreign
citizenship. The OCI holder would therefore not be eligible for the following rights in
India: (i) Right to vote; (ii) Right to hold constitutional office (i.e. parliament, courts,
cabinet posts, etc.); and (iii) Right to hold posts in government services sector.

5. The OCI Status is a privilege extended only to those persons who qualify for that
privilege. The OCI Status accorded to a person can be revoked by Government of India in
cases that warrant such action. For detailed information on the "Overseas Citizen of
India", visit the web site - http://www.mha.nic.in/ of the Ministry of Home Affairs,
Government of India.

6. Applicant must necessarily satisfy the following criteria in order to be eligible to apply for OCI Status.

7. Additional Notes :
a. A PIO card holder can substitute his PIO Card with the OIC. He or she would
be required to surrender their PIO Card in that event. All PIO Card holders
seeking to substitute their PIO card with the OCI facility must submit a copy
of their PIO Card during submission of the application for OCI.
b. Applying as a family of four (4) members : You may apply jointly in a single
application as spouses and no more than two (2) of your minor children.
The necessary fee would be charged for each applicant.
c. OCI Applications can be made on behalf of a minor child by guardian/parent.

8. Processing of your OCI application is initially a joint effort between you (the applicant)
and the OCI Cell at the CGI. Therefore, you need to clearly understand the process of
filing the application, keep your original documentation complete in all respects and follow
the various steps involved carefully. This would facilitate smooth and quick processing of
your application. an/parent.

9. Visit http://www.mha.nic.in//oci/oci-main.htm and click Online Registration If you are
applying as an individual or as a family, select the appropriate option. A reference number
will be assigned to you by the computer upon completing the online registration. You
must present this number when you arrive at the Consulate.

(Family of 4 (spouses and two minor children) to fill-in part A in one go. If a family
consists of more than 2 minor children, application for third minor child be filled-in as an
individual by selecting option (i). In cases where child/children is/are not minor,
to acquisition of agricultural and plantation properties.

Criteria Details
(i) If you or one of your parents or one of your grandparents was a citizen of India after January
26, 1950.

(ii) If you or one of your parents or one of your grandparents belonged to a former territory (Goa, Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Sikkim and Pondicherry ) that became part of India after August 15, 1947.

(iii) If you or one of your parents or one of your grandparents was eligible to become a citizen of
India at the time of commencement of the Constitution of India on January 26, 1950.
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independent application in r/o of each such child need to be filled-in.)

10. The OCI application consists of Part-A and Part-B. Part-A would be completed online
through Online Registration at www.mha.nic.in/oci/oci-main.htm (Ministry of Home
Affairs) site. Part-B would be completed by typing required information or writing in
capital block letters with black or blue ink. The computer would assign to you a Reference
Number. Retain this reference number as it would be required when you submit your
application at the Consulate.

11. You are required to submit the OCI application (Part-A and Part-B) in duplicate. Part-B is automatically printed out when Part-A is Saved & Print command is selected at the popup window. For each of the two applications, an original PASSPORT SIZE color
photo ( light colour background , not white background ) without
border with front view of person's head and shoulders showing the full face in the
middle of the photograph . At the end of Part-B, there is a list of documents that are
required at the time you submit your application. The fee for the application is USD 275
(in favor of Consulate General of India, NewYork) (USD 25 for PIO Card
holders) . The payment should be in the form of certified checks or money orders in
favour of " CONSULATE GENERAL OF INDIA " ( no personal checks ) .

12. Additional information about photographs:- a) Background colour and the dress
colour should not be the same ( it should be different colour ) . b) If applicant wearing
glasses please make sure that there is no glare on the glasses or take the picture without
glasses. c) Photograph should be front view with shoulder visible. d) Photographs should
be bright ( please note the colour of skin and brightness of the photo is different. ) e)
Photograph should not be stapled and should not have any signature ( no signature on
photo ) . http://ociindia.nic.in/ociindia/ICAO-Photo.pdf

13. For detailed application procedure, see steps to Apply for OCI.

14. For detailed instructions during the review process, see Important Instructions for OCI
Applicant under Review.

15. The application review process may take from one to four months depending on the documents and proofs you provide in support of your application. We appreciate your cooperation.

For any further information or clarification on OCI, visit: www.mha.nic.in/oci/ocimain.
htm (Ministry of Home Affairs website) and the Frequently Asked Questions at
OCI link at : www.indiacgny.org . Enquiries on OCI can also be addressed to OCI Cell
at Consulate General of India, 3 East 64th Street, New York, NY 10065 or Tel: (212)
774-0605 & Fax: (212) 734-1595 / (212) 570-9581

or E-mail : visa@indiacgny.org (Please mention your Tel. No. in the email for us to
contact you).Consulate General of India, New York, U.S.A. Page 3 of 3

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