HOME | ABOUT US | Speaker | Americans Together | Videos | www.CenterforPluralism.com | Please note that the blog posts include my own articles plus selected articles critical to India's cohesive functioning. My articles are exclusively published at www.TheGhouseDiary.com You can send an email to: MikeGhouseforIndia@gmail.com

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
http://www.indiacgny.org/php/showContent.php?linkid=384 2/17/2008

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.
Consulate General of India, New York, U.S.A. Page 2 of 3
http://www.indiacgny.org/php/showContent.php?linkid=384 2/17/2008
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.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Alchemy of Indian Identities


Your article " The alchemy of Indian identities is appended below".

......every one of us, regardless of religion has faced similar biases, and you have put this together very well. Those of us who have the capacity to think, have a lot of fodder to chew.

The bias exists in one form or the other; there is bias among and within Muslims, there is bias among and within Hindus... many have been killed between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over the film heroes or the language or the Cauvery water... even Amitabh or Shahrukh were not spared by the radicals... There is always ignorance among a few who cause tensions.

By the way, when Azharuddin was rounded up several years ago and said it was because he was a Muslim, I jumped all over his comments. He was an idiot and user of his religion for his gain. People liked him because he was a good captain; they got him because he was a bad boy and not because he was a Muslim. I am glad so many Muslims condemned his immediately.

I see the India pride in you and I am glad to see it, my raising was similar to yours, recently I wrote notes on Janamashtami, Ramadan, Paryushan and Ganesh Chaturthi... and shared identical words - that we grew up enjoying every festival without colorizing them with religion. I hope more and more Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Christians and other Indians start enjoying each others festivities. It is a darn shame that a few Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains and others don’t know about each other or their festivals, and some who know, got it all wrong…. and yet we call ourselves smart assess. As Indians, we need to learn the right things about our neighbors and friends. We should be ashamed of ourselves if we don’t know about the good things about fellow Indians.

Once every one of us drops our bias without waiting for the other to do, things will get better, our attitude ought to be "Let me be the first one to drop bias against a fellow Indian”. "Let me work for one India whether others do it or not, at least I need to be clean in my attitude towards other Indians”.

The good news is an overwhelming majority of Indians (be them Hindus, Muslims or others) are darn good people. Let’s focus on them and not exceptions.

Thank you for sharing this and I would encourage you to keep up with this. These are they ways to appeal to people's sense of reason and logic in order to create better societies, so each one of the 1.1 billion of us can cherish each other.

Jai Hind

A fellow Indian American (ah, that is one more identity!)
Mike Ghouse

The Alchemy of Identities
by Abdullah Khan

In 1996, a day after India’s fantastic win over Pakistan in the Cricket World Cup Quarterfinal, I was sitting in the offices of a leading English daily in Patna, the capital of the northern Indian state of Bihar. At that time, I used to be a freelance contributor to this national paper’s local edition. The paper’s features team and I were, of course, discussing cricket. Everybody was trying to guess which strategy the Indian team would adopt against a resurgent Sri Lankan team in the semi-finals.

All of a sudden, the discussion meandered to a new topic: is it true that every Indian Muslim secretly cheers for the Pakistan Cricket Team? Later, a more specific question was thrown at me by one of the sub-editors: “Tell us what’s more important to you, being an Indian, or being a Muslim? If you had to decide between one or the other, which one would you choose?”

An Indian cricket fan. Photos by Hash P. via flickr (daarkfire).“Both my identities are significant to me,” I replied, explaining how a person is capable of belonging to multiple communities at the same time. For example, my identities as a Bihari and as an Indian were not contradictory. Even in my personal life, I could simultaneously be a father, a son. But not everybody was convinced by my answer. I could see that some eyes contained traces of doubt about my unflinching loyalty towards my country. This wasn’t the first time my sense of devotion to a secular country had been doubted simply because of my religion.

Years ago, while I was studying in a school in a small town in provincial Bihar, my history teacher, who was known for his anti-Muslim bias, put forth a similar, tricky question towards the Muslim boys: “Are you Muslim first or Indian first?”

Some of the boys said, “Muslim first.”

A few of them said, “Indian first.”

Some didn’t say anything and remained silent.

My reply was altogether different. “I am both Muslim and Indian at the same time. I was born to Muslim parents, so I am a Muslim. I was born in India so I am an Indian. In fact, in the precise moment of my birth I automatically acquired both the identities.” At that point in time, I was a boy still, and I didn’t understand the intricacies and complexities of individual identity. That particular response, in fact, had been appropriated from my Granduncle, and he had read it in a magazine called Al-Risala, which was published by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, a renowned Islamic scholar who had been internationally recognized for his contributions to world peace and promoting religious harmony.

A Pakistani cricket fan. Photos by Hash P. via flickr (daarkfire).During my formative years at college, I always pondered over the question of identities and how a person’s identity influences his thought process or molds his perception about anything and everything—how a person’s identity culturally conditions his individuality. As I grew however, I realized that we are not always consciously aware of all the facets of our identities. In fact, there are many layers of our identities—sub-identities and super-identities—of which we remain ignorant. Strangely, it sometimes takes other people’s prejudices and insecurities to reveal these hidden aspects of our identities to ourselves.

I was born in a small village called Pindari near Motihari, which is a small provincial town bordering Nepal, insignificant from any point of view apart from its historical value. Mahatma Gandhi had chosen this very place for his first experiment of the “Satyagraha” movement against the British landlords who were forcing the local peasantry to grow Indigo. Interestingly, George Orwell, one of the great authors of 20th century, was also born here.

I remember as a child, when I started going to Madarsa (religious school) in my village, I identified myself as a Pathan. In India, Pathan, a so-called upper caste, is part of a caste system of Muslims who claim their ancestry to the Pashtuns of Afghanistan. Film star Shahrukh Khan and cricketer Irfan Pathan are some famous Indian Pathans. As a child, I, along with my cousins and neighborhood boys would think that being a Pathan was the best thing in the world. Whenever we got into a fight with the boys of other castes we would abuse them using their caste names. For example we would call a Sheikh, Sheikh Shekhari. Sheikh is another caste among Muslims. The Sheikhs are believed to have either descended from Arab immigrants, or their forefathers were high caste Hindus who converted to Islam. One corner of our village had a predominantly Sheikh population referred to as Sheikh Toli.

My Grandmother, Dadi, told me she came from the family of Yusufzai Pathans, a superior sub-caste or clan of Pathan. And my Grandfather was not Yusufzai but was among the superior categories of Pathans. Right now I can’t recall what type of Pathan he was.

The neighboring village, Chandanbara, was a big one with the predominant population being Sheikhs. In the early-80s, a big Madarsa was built here. In that Madarsa my maternal uncle, my mother’s cousin, was a teacher. He taught Mathematics, English, and Hindi. I happened to visit my uncle one day and was impressed by the ambience of the Madarsa, where, along with religious subjects, secular courses were also taught. I decided to join it. At that time, I was studying in class four in the same village’s Government Middle School.

For the first time, I found myself in a classroom that was predominantly Sheikh. A few boys from so-called lower castes also studied there. But they kept a low profile and always sat on the back-benches. I was the only Pathan and sat on the first bench. Although I was below average in Arabic and Persian, I excelled in Mathematics, Hindi, English, and Science. The boys who had always been topping these subjects before my arrival were jealous of me. And to harass me, they identified something, which would allow them to rally the majority of the class against me. My caste. They called me Pathan Shaitan in order to tease me. In fact they pronounced Pathan as Paithan which rhymed perfectly with Shaitan. Their insult meant “Devil Pathan” or “Pathans are devils.” Their collective attempt to humiliate me only reinforced the prejudices I had acquired while growing up in my village. “Sheikhs are stingy; they are cruel and exploit poor people. They indulge in un-Islamic things like usury. They are more poisonous than cobra.”

Another point on which I was teased was for my being Barelvi, which is a school of thought among South Asian Sunni Muslims, venerating Sufis and approving visiting of Sufi shrines. The Madarsa was run by people following a school of thought called Ahle Hadith. In contrast to Barelvis, Ahle Hadiths reject Sufism and oppose excessive veneration of Sufi-saints, as they claim that all these go against the basic tenets of Islam. Chandanbara was predominantly Ahle Hadith. The boys ridiculed me saying that I was a Kabarpujwa—a grave worshipper. Within two months I left the Madarsa and returned to my old school.

At the age of 11, when I left my village for Katihar, a small district town in North-East Bihar, I became conscious of my Muslim identity. In my village and also in the neighboring villages, the entire population was mostly comprised of Muslims, so it never occurred to my juvenile mind that somebody could be other than a Muslim. Yes, my village did contain a few dozen houses of low caste Hindus like Noniyas, the saltmaker caste, Telis, the oil presser caste, Badhai, the carpenter caste and a few more. But they all lived on the fringes of village society and had never made it to the map of my imagination.

In the neighborhood at Katihar, there was a Hindu gentleman who always brought me chocolates or sweet candies and affectionately called me Miyan Ji. Miyan, now considered slightly offensive, is a slang word used for Muslims by non-Muslims. He often told me stories. Most of these stories centred around a cruel Muslim king. He would tell me graphic details of the torture and killing of Hindus under the rule of such kings. He also told me stories of Muslim invaders plundering India, destroying and looting its temples. At that time, I had little sense of history. Being in class five, I hardly knew anything about Mahmood of Ghazani, Muhammad Ghauri, or Nadir Shah. But the way in which he told his stories made me feel miserable. I felt as if he was holding me responsible for all the unfortunate events of the past just because I shared the same religion with those kings and invaders. For some time, I harbored a faint resentment towards him for demonizing Muslim kings. I secretly believed that he was telling lies. A Muslim, I believed, couldn’t be that cruel.

In my class at New Pattern English School in Katihar, a few Hindu boys bullied me and called me Miyanwa, a derogatory term used for Muslims in the provinces of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. I couldn’t dare to confront them.

Azmal was my class monitor. He sat on the first bench and always stood first in class. He was tall and physically robust. He was also a Muslim. I decided to complain to him about the boys. He immediately called the boys and threatened that he would break their neck-bones if they ever teased me. He also threatened to complain to the principal.

Since the principal too was a Muslim, the boys were frightened that severe action might be taken against them. They asked me to forgive them, which I finally did. After a few months, we forgot everything and became friends.

A few times I had a fight with some of my classmates and some of them teased me with a poem:

Chai Garam Chai Nahi Hai
Miyan Beta Mar Gaya Parwah Nahin Hai
(There is no cup of hot tea here. If a bloody Muslim dies, I don’t care.)

I would immediately retort with the same poem just replacing Miyan with Hindu.

Chai Gram Chai Nahi Hai
Hindu Beta Mar Gaya Parwah Nahin Ha

When my father was transferred to Patna, I was already in class eleven. The city of Patna is situated on the banks of the river Ganges, one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world. A city with a glorious past, now it is the capital of one of India’s most impoverished states, Bihar. My father, a two time President medal awardee, was an Inspector with the Bihar Military Police. His image of being a man of honesty and integrity had won him a lot of admirers within the department cutting across caste and religion. In the Officers’ quarters of the Police colony of Patna, we were surrounded by Hindu neighbors, and there were only a couple of Muslim families including ours and one Christian family.

We celebrated the festivals of both Hindu and Muslims with verve and enthusiasm. For me each festival held the same significance be it Holi, Id, Durga Puja, Deepawali, and of course Chhath.

During the holy month of Ramzan, or Ramadan, when Muslims around the world fast from dawn until dusk, everyday some Hindu friends of my father would drop in at our place for Iftar or the ritual breaking of fast. We also sent Iftar items, food items prepared for breaking the fast, to at least two-to-three Hindu families daily.

During the Hindu festivals we were inundated with invitations. During the Chhath, my room would be full of buckets full of homemade delicacies: sugarcanes, coconuts, apples, and other fruits. All these things are offered as prasad to the Sun God during Chhath puja, the most sacred Hindu festival in Bihar. Amma, my mother, believed that the sacred offerings should not be wasted. She would call a few poor women from the neighboring mohalla to take the major part of the prasad. They were happy to get so much to eat. Amma ensured that not even a single piece of prasad was wasted.

While living in the Police colony, I was never questioned about my identity as an Indian. But when a cricket match took place between India and Pakistan my loyalty was questioned. Back in those days we didn’t have a television at home. So, I used to go to the Police Canteen to watch the matches, which used to be crowded when the two contemptuous siblings took to the cricket field. An India-Pakistan match used to be very difficult to watch. Throughout the match, many viewers would attempt to discern whether I was supporting India or Pakistan. The tyranny of peering eyes made me behave in odd ways. If I clapped on the fall of a Pakistani wicket many of them suspected that I was simply pretending. At that time Azharuddin, the Indian cricketer and later the captain of Indian Cricket team, was an icon for Muslim youth, and I too took pride in the fact that a Muslim was out there fighting our arch-rivals, Pakistan. But I avoided praising Azhar out loud because I feared that people around me might interpret it the wrong way. They might think I was praising Azhar because he was a fellow Muslim and not because he was a fine player.

When Azhar played well I heard people wax eloquent. But when he failed he was abused (however not every time) as Salaa Miyan. It was not that other players were spared when they failed to perform, but their religion was never used to slander them.

My friend’s elder brother, whom I fondly call Bishambhar Bhaiya, is a Kankubja Brahmin Hindu, pure vegetarian, a fan of the right-wing nationalist leader Atal Bihari Vjapayee and a great believer in the secular structure of India. He is also a great fan of Pakistani Cricketers. As a team he supports India, but he appreciates the individual brilliance of many Pakistani players, especially Imran Khan. His room is adorned by a man-size poster of Imran Khan. I couldn’t afford to hang the same poster. Being a Hindu and a high caste Hindu, Bishambhar Bhaiya’s loyalty towards India was taken for granted. If I had shown any enthusiasm for the dapper Pakistani cricketer, I would be declared a traitor.

In 1998 when I joined a public sector bank and travelled across the country, I realized how biased the country was against Biharis. From MP to Maharashtra, Punjab to Gujarat, I found many people making a mockery of Biharis and the state of Bihar. They considered Biharis corrupt, uncouth and uncultured. In Delhi I was shocked to learn that the word Bihari was a swear word. A Punjabi gentleman at my bank’s canteen tried hard to explain me, over a delectable meal of Rajma-Chawal—curried kidney beans with boiled rice—that though I was from Bihar, I was not a Bihari. Because, according to him, Bihari meant uncultured and rogue. I was, instead, decent and cultured. Infuriated by his comments, I shot back, “That way, you are not a Punjabi. Because Punjabi means a motherfucker.” He got angry and walked away saying, Salaa Bihari.

When I was posted in a small town in Punjab, which was once a hotbed of Sikh militancy, I came across many people who thought that Biharis were only agri-laborers, masons, or rickshaw pullers. They praised me for being so decent despite being Bihari, and that disgusted me.

While the city folks made a mockery of my Bihari identity, the Sikhs of rural Punjab respected me when they came to know that I came from Patna, the birthplace of the tenth Guru of Sikhism. Some of the veterans of those villages even kissed my hands. They said since I was coming from the Holy City of Patna Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh ji, I deserved respect. During those rare occasions I felt genuinely elated.

Otherwise, most of the time, wherever I was in Punjab, I was asked strange questions about Bihar and my Bihari-identity with an unnerving regularity. At times, in sheer frustration, I would shoot back at people, “Before leaving Bihar I got my horns sawed off and tail chopped off, so I don’t look like a Bihari.” Sometimes, the strange questions would be about my being a follower of Islam.

The city of Gurdaspur, where I lived in Punjab, was hardly twenty miles from the Pakistan Border, and a sizeable percentage of the place’s population had migrated from Pakistan at the time of partition. And many carried horror stories with them. Stories of their houses set ablaze by Muslim league supporters, of Hindu and Sikh women raped by Muslim goons, of innocent Hindu and Sikhs hacked to death by Mobs screaming “Allah-o-Akbar.” When they told the stories, they stressed the word Muslim, as if to see how I would react. Most of the times, I felt guilty for something, something which had happened decades before my birth.

It was the summer of ’99 when I had gone to the nearby village of Gurdaspur to recover a loan. On the outskirts of the village there was a small market that housed a branch of a nationalised bank. The manager of the branch was known to me and was recently transferred to this place. When he saw me standing outside his office, he sent a peon to fetch me. I went there and was made to sit in his cabin. On the chair next to me was seated a genial faced old man with a brown turban and a flowing off-white beard. The manager went outside for some work. He didn’t return for a while. To break the silence, the old man, a Sikh, asked my name. “Abdullah Khan,” I replied. At once, he held my hands, kissed them, and said, with tears running down his eyes, that my name was very nice. Surprised by his gesture, I asked him what was so special about my name. He told me some story from his past about one Abdullah Khan, his childhood friend in a village near Lahore, now in Pakistan but then in undivided British India, and how this friend, despite the risk to his own life, had helped his family to cross the border to India.

His cheeks were soaked with tears as he was talking about his friend, Abdullah, whom he had last seen in 1947. He wished to meet him before he died but he was not sure if he was alive.

He wiped his tears and said smilingly, “May God bless you my son.”

The old man’s predilection for the name Abdullah made me proud of my name.

For a few minutes, I relished the joy of being Abdullah Khan. And during those glorious moments I was not an Indian. I was not a Muslim. I was not a Bihari. I was not a Pathan.

I was just Abdullah. Nothing else but Abdullah Khan.