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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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Your Comments:

Thank you.

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.

# # #
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.
This article at:
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."