Siliconeer: May 2002

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MAY 2002
Volume III Issue 5

Publisher's Note:

Scientists are wont to scoff at myth and superstition, and rightly, too. But an open mind can lead to wondrous new vistas, as this month’s fascinating cover story shows. Fishermen in Tamil Nadu’s Mahabalipuram believe centuries ago the gods, jealous of the beautiful city nearby, flooded the entire city and it has been underwater since. Western scientists have been skeptical of flood myths, but British TV presenter Graham Hancock was intrigued and at his initiative, a joint Indo-British underwater archaeological expedition sent in divers who have discovered structures under the sea that may be older than the Harappan civilization.
Hancock credits the local fishermen. “Here in Mahabalipuram we have proved the myths right and the academics wrong.”

Next month, The IndUS Entrepreneurs hosts its prestigious annual conference. Over the years, the organization has been a remarkable example of civic responsibility where the biggest Indian names in high tech entrepreneurship have volunteered their expertise to spread entrepreneurship. We present interviews two TiE officials about the conference and the organization.

Come September, Foster City will host the Tamil Internet Conference & Exhibition 2002, which will discuss topics like digital Tamil archives, open source development for Tamil, web- and multimedia –assisted learning of Tamil, E-business and E-governance. India’s dazzling excellence in IT has not been able to reach its languages. The supremacy of English among the elite may be an asset in the globalized world, but it is a crippling handicap in developing India’s own languages for the digital age. Tamil is a trailblazer in this regard, setting an example all other Indian languages should emulate. We present a curtain raiser on Tamil Internet in this month’s issue.

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Main Feature

City Under the Sea
Wrath of Jealous Gods? –
By B.K. Parthasarathy

B.K. Parthasarathy writes about a spectacular underwater archaeological find by a joint British-Indian diving team that could rewrite history.

Who would have thought a city that could be older than the Harappan civilization could be lying beneath water right off the coast of Mahabalipuram?

Sometimes, it pays to listen to the stories of humble fishermen. Local fishermen in the coast of Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu have for centuries believed in that a great flood consumed a city over 1,000 years ago in a single day when the gods grew jealous of its beauty.

The myths of Mahabalipuram were written down by British traveler J. Goldingham, who visited the town in 1798, at which time it was known to sailors as the Seven Pagodas. Legend had it that six temples were submerged beneath the waves, with the seventh temple still standing on the seashore.

Best-selling British author and television presenter Graham Hancock took these stories seriously. The hypothesis that there may be ruins underwater off the coast of Mahabalipuram has been around at least since the eighteenth century among scholarly circles.

“I have long regarded Mahabalipuram, because of its flood myths and fishermen’s sightings as a very likely place in which discoveries of underwater structures could be made, and I proposed that a diving expedition should be undertaken there,” said Hancock.

Hancock’s initiative resulted in the Dorset, England-based Scientific Exploration Society and India’s National Institute of Oceanography joining hands. In April this year, the team made a spectacular discovery

The SES announced: “A joint expedition of 25 divers from the Scientific Exploration Society and India’s National Institute of Oceanography led by Monty Halls and accompanied by Graham Hancock, have discovered an extensive area with a series of structures that clearly show man made attributes, at a depth of 5-7 meters offshore of Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu.

“The scale of the submerged ruins, covering several square miles and at distances of up to a mile from shore, ranks this as a major marine-archaeological discovery as spectacular as the ruined cities submerged off Alexandria in Egypt.”

India’s NIO said in a statement: “A team of underwater archaeologists from National Institute of Oceanography NIO have successfully `unearthed’ evidence of submerged structures off Mahabalipuram and established first-ever proof of the popular belief that the Shore temple of Mahabalipuram is the remnant of series of total seven of such temples built that have been submerged in succession. The discovery was made during a joint underwater exploration with the Scientific Exploration Society, U.K.”

NIO said:

  • Underwater investigations were carried out at 5 locations in the 5 – 8 m water depths, 500 to 700 m off Shore temple.
  • Investigations at each location have shown presence of the construction of stone masonry, remains of walls, a big square rock cut remains, scattered square and rectangular stone blocks, big platform leading the steps to it amidst of the geological formations of the rocks that occur locally.
  • Most of the structures are badly damaged and scattered in a vast area, having biological growth of barnacles, mussels and other organisms.
  • The construction pattern and area, about 100m X 50m, appears to be same at each location. The actual area covered by ruins may extend well beyond the explored locations.
  • The possible date of the ruins may be 1500-1200 years BP. Pallava dynasty, ruling the area during the period, has constructed many such rock cut and structural temples in Mahabalipuram and Kanchipuram.

The last claim is questioned by Hancock, who says a scientist has told him it could be 6,000 years old.

Durham University geologist Glenn Milne told him in an e-mail: “I had a chat with some of my colleagues here in the dept. of geological sciences and it is probably reasonable to assume that there has been very little vertical tectonic motion in this region [i.e. the coastal region around Mahabalipuram] during the past five thousand years or so. Therefore, the dominant process driving sea-level change will have been due to the melting of the Late Pleistocene ice sheets. Looking at predictions from a computer model of this process suggests that the area where the structures exist would have been submerged around six thousand years ago. Of course, there is some uncertainty in the model predictions and so there is a flexibility of roughly plus or minus one thousand years is this date.”

If that were true, it would be a spectacular development. Previous archaeological opinion recognizes no culture in India 6,000 years ago capable of building anything much.

Hancock says this discovery proves scientists should be more open-minded. “I have argued for many years that the world’s flood myths deserve to be taken seriously, a view that most Western academics reject. “But here in Mahabalipuram, we have proved the myths right and the academics wrong.”

Hancock believes far more research needs to be done on underwater relics.
“Between 17,000 years ago and 7000 years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age, terrible things happened to the world our ancestors lived in,” he says. “Great ice caps over northern Europe and north America melted down, huge floods ripped across the earth, sea-level rose by more than 100 meters, and about 25 million square kilometers of formerly habitable lands were swallowed up by the waves.

“Marine archaeology has been possible as a scholarly discipline for about 50 years — since the introduction of scuba. In that time, according to Nick Flemming, the doyen of British marine archaeology, only 500 submerged sites have been found worldwide containing the remains of any form of man-made structure or of lithic artifacts. Of these sites only 100 — that’s 100 in the whole world! — are more than 3000 years old.”

Hancock, who was understandably resentful about the NIO’s silence in his pivotal role in making the diving expedition happen — SES gave him full recognition — was himself quite generous about who deserved the greatest credit:

“Of course the real discoverers of this amazing and very extensive submerged site are the local fishermen of Mahabalipuram. My role was simply to take what they had to say seriously and to take the town’s powerful and distinctive flood myths seriously. Since no diving had ever been done to investigate these neglected myths and sightings I decided that a proper expedition had to be mounted. To this end, about a year ago, I brought together my friends at the Scientific Exploration Society in Britain and the National Institute of Oceanography in India and we embarked on the long process that has finally culminated in the discovery of a major and hitherto completely unknown submerged archaeological site.”

Interested readers can visit the following Web sites for more information. The Scientific Exploration Society’s Web site at www.india-atlantis.org
And Graham Hancock’s Web site at www.grahamhancock.com

B.K. Parthasarathy is a freelance writer based in Chennai.

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Infotech India

French Aerospace

Paris-headquartered Snecma, one of the world’s leading aerospace companies, announced May 8 the launch of its Indian subsidiary and design and research centre in Bangalore.

With an initial investment of Rs. 200 million, Snecma Aerospace India would carry out studies and develop engine components, aircraft equipment and onboard software, top company officials told a news conference here.

Snecma chairman and CEO Jean-Paul Bechat said SAI “demonstrates Snecma’s commitment to conceive, and later produce, engines and aircraft equipment in cooperation with the Indian aerospace industry.”

SAI managing director Olivier Laederich said the company intended to recruit 100 highly-skilled Indian engineers over the next two years. SAI would export more than 75 percent of its turnover — in fact 100 per cent, initially.

SAI will initially carry out the design studies on behalf of Snecma Companies, specializing in propulsion and equipment.

Snecma is taking steps towards the development of the local R & D centre to support the group’s future collaboration with the Indian industry, the officials said.

Technology Channel

The Indira Gandhi National Open University will launch a technology television channel and FM channels, with a 75 km radius, in Chennai, Delhi and Kolkata from August 15.

Announcing this at a media conference here, convener of “Gyan Darshan,” the country’s prime educational TV run by the IGNOU, Dr. R. Sridhar said the technology channel would be provided a transponder on INSAT 3-C.

Marketing Brahmos

India has decided to step up trials of the advanced supersonic cruise missile — Brahmos — and commence commercial production of these weapons by the end of 2003, Defense Minister George Fernandes told the Rajya Sabha May 8.

Orissa E-Governance

Information Technology Minister Pramod Mahajan May 7 congratulated the Orissa government for joining e-governance, saying it would go a long way in implementing developmental programs in the backward areas of the state.

“I congratulate the people of Orissa for joining e-governance. It will revolutionize governance of the state and help in its developmental activities,” Mahajan told Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik during a video-conference linking Parliament House and the Chief Minister’s Office in Bhubaneshwar.

Patnaik said it had established a direct link between the Orissa capital and far-flung districts like Koraput, Bolangir and Kalahandi.

The chief minister, who also held a video-conference with collectors of 14 districts, focused on the implementation of drinking water schemes, housing, watershed mission and food for work programs. The video-conference facility also connects Bhubaneshwar with Cuttack, Ganjam and Sambalpur.

USB 2.0 Technology

Wipro Technologies, the global IT services division of Wipro Limited, has announced the commercial availability of its high-speed Universal Serial Bus 2.0 technology.

The USB 2.0 technology is driven by the market need for high-speed data transfer between personal computers, and high performance peripherals and broadband Internet services.

“This next generation interface standard has already been widely embraced by market leaders like Intel, Hewlett Packard, Dell and Microsoft among other USB Implementer forum members,” a Wipro release said..

In association with Chennai Online

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Entrepreneur's Mecca
TiEcon 2002
– Interview with Vish Mishra & Raj Desai

The Indus Entrepreneurs annual conference is not only a stellar example of the strides made by South Asian high tech entrepreneurs, organizers say this is the world’s largest conference for entrepreneurs. TiE officials Vish Mishra and Raj Desai talked to Siliconeer about the conference and the organization.

Vish Mishra

What’s TiEcon all about?

The basic focus of TiEcon always has been a forum where you can bring entrepreneurs — either they are aspiring entrepreneurs or successful businessmen and also there are professionals — all of whom come together to support this entrepreneurial ecosystem. There is no such conference in the world that brings so many people with only one mission in mind: It is all about building successful entrepreneurs. This conference is the world’s largest entrepreneurial event.

Give us a thumbnail sketch of the conference.

The conference opens on June 14, continues all day and the next day. We do a grand entertainment dinner banquet at the end of it all. So it’s two full days.

The theme this year is innovating for success. We feel that whether times are hard or easy, innovation is always there. Whether you are choosing a career or trying to be an entrepreneur or trying to grow your business, you have to be very innovative in terms of what you do, how you go about defining your objectives about your business or your career, how you go about getting the proper resources, proper advisors.

On Friday morning we will have 20 people who will be talking about innovation to 3,000 people. These are all very strong influential known people. We have learning sessions in three tracks for different companies. On Saturday we have five concurrent sessions for special interest groups. At the end we will have a visionary panel. And from 6 o’clock we party.

Then there is the hugely successful showcase. Due to the overwhelming success of last year’s event, TiEcon’s 2002 Showcase has expanded to over 40,000 square feet of floor space. It will feature over 200 companies displaying their products and services. 

How does TiE function?

It’s all volunteer effort. That has been one of the secrets of TiE’s magic. We empower a lot of people. It’s really exciting to bring people together, work together for six months with only one mission in mind – to produce the best conference.

How can anyone get more information?

Our Web site at www.tie.org has everything one wants to know. Or just call us at (408) 567-0700.

Raj Desai

Give us a brief background of TiE

TiE was founded in 1992 with a basic philosophy of helping others. Very successful, high-profile entrepreneurs had come together and over a period of two years came with a very focused vision of wanting to help aspiring entrepreneurs. The vision was very focused, very much non-political, non-religious.

Is it still what TiE does?

Oh, yes. We are now Web-based. You don’t have to make a call. You fill in your information and within about 24 hours you will get a message back confirming an appointment with a very senior accomplished entrepreneur who would devote 45 minutes — upto an hour — of mentoring time. We ask no questions, we ask for no fees. We conduct about 100 mentoring sessions a month.

Now that the Silicon Valley boom days are over, what is TiE trying to do?

The strategies are very much to advise potential and aspiring entrepreneurs on skills and a well-balanced approach to business, rather than based on a single idea that may not necessarily have the backing of the management team that is diverse that would sustain it in this economic environment.

What lessons is TiE taking with it when it is opening chapters outside U.S. in India and Pakistan?

In the Silicon Valley as well as the United States, the environment is very entrepreneur-friendly. The difference it makes to an aspiring entrepreneur in his or her ability to start a business is significant. If this is possible here, how come the same people are not able to make such progress back in the country from where they come?

We feel that through the TiE focused philosophy of nurturing and helping aspiring entrepreneurs as well as influencing policy change through our connections with the governments, a similar environment can also exist or be brought about in places like India or Pakistan. I think one is promoting the global entrepreneurship that knows no boundaries, that knows no politics, knows no religion.

How do you help existing companies?

Last year we devised a program called mentoring companies. We called that corporate mentoring or corporate workshop whereby an entire management team of the company would come in and be mentored for about two hours by a panel of experts that would give them advice on strategic direction, partnerships, product development, marketing, building alliances, how to take that company forward. We have run two such workshops very successfully — 30, 40 companies applied, three or four get selected. This is done free of charge.

There has been a perception out there that TiE is about high tech industry. Of course, being in Silicon Valley, which is where it started, one is not surprised. But really, TiE is about entrepreneurship. If you are in Kanpur, you talk about the leather industry, if you are in Jaipur you talk about gemstones, if you are in Dubai perhaps you are talking about the oil industry, financial markets, service industries.

What are TiE’s goals in India?

There are two or three levels of approaches. One is that education is considered critical, and people like Kanwal Rekhi, Vinod Khosla and Desh Deshpande are making significant contributions to the IITs to ensure that that institutions that have really brought about the software boom are sustained and improved.

At the grassroots level there is a significant challenge. Some 300-400 million kids do not have the opportunity to go to school. With computing and the Internet one is able to can many of these lectures and classes in what we call the digital centers and enable kids to be trained without a teacher being physically present. About 10 such centers have been opened up. Each center can take up to a 1,000 kids a year. The results are very encouraging in terms of not only the level of training these kids have received, but in terms of touching the less fortunate people.

Health is another issue. This is another area where technology can make a significant impact.

What are some of the successes and challenges for TiE?

TiE basically fulfilled a niche. There was no platform which was similarly focused to provide a network for newly arrived professionals outside work. It gave the community a high level of visibility. People like John Chambers, Carly Fiorina, Larry Ellison come and speak at TiE with no speaking engagement fee. TiE has paid never paid any speaker any fee. That says something.

In the political world, we are asked both here and in India for advice. I think that’s significant.

In terms of challenges, one looks at the current economic environment. Once starting a company, getting acquired, or going IPO was the theme during the boom days. Now it’s a matter of survival, now it’s a matter of building sustainable companies, and recruiting the right management.

Another challenge is the challenge of growth. From a few chapters, we have 40 chapters worldwide. This requires an institution that can meet diverse needs. A global board now is overseeing the activities of the chapters worldwide.

What is your advice to laid off high tech employees in the Silicon Valley?

Our advice is to return home. We are not in a position to change the current economic situation in the high tech area. Our advice has been that there are better and easier opportunities to grab in India then there will be here in the short term. When things improve and change, look up again. I think you are looking at three to five years before things really start to look up here.



Why TiE Says This Year’s Conference is Special

2002 is the 10th anniversary of TiE.

TiEcon is now the world’s largest conference on entrepreneurship.  Focused on fostering entrepreneurship, TiEcon has seen attendance growing every year through the ups and downs of the business cycle.

There is a tremendous glob-al demand for the TiE recipe (Entrepreneurship is key to economic development).  From a base of one chapter, Silicon Valley, in the years from 1992 to 1996, two chapters added in 1997 (Atlantic, Los Angeles), two in 1998 (Midwest, New York), five in 1999 (Atlanta, Bangalore, Dallas / Ft. Worth, Mumbai, Seattle), 12 in 2000 (Austin, Carolinas, Chennai, Delhi, Houston, Hyderabad, Washington D.C., London, Phoenix, San Diego, Toronto, Vancouver), 4 in 2001 (Kolkata, Denver, Karachi, Lahore).  There are 14 more chapters in formation across the world, from New Jersey to Jaipur, and Singapore to Cincinnati.  Reinforcing this point is the fact that state governments from India and other countries are sending delegations to TiECon and exhibiting in the showcase.

What makes TiE so successful in fostering entrepreneurship is that it brings together a “complete entrepreneurial ecosystem” of not only entrepreneurs, but also venture capitalists, academics, thought leaders, service providers, financial institutions, policy makers, and established corporations.

TiE has been a driving force behind many leading high-technology companies. Success stories of the past are well known, recent successes include:

Brocade Communications Systems, Inc. (Kumar Malavalli, vice president, advisor to the chairman and CEO is an active TiE charter member.)

Selectica Inc.  (Raj Jaswa, president and chief executive officer, chairman of the board, had roots in TiE even before he founded Selectica, as a successful entrepreneur with OPTi Systems.)

Amber Networks, recently featured in the press for its acquisition by Nokia (Prakash Bhalerao, chairman of Amber Networks before acquisition, and Sam Mathan, CEO of Amber Networks before acquisition, have both been very active with TiE for many years)

TIBCO (Vivek Ranadivé chairman and CEO, and Raj Mashruwala executive vice president, sales and marketing, are active mentors at TiE).

Scimagix Inc., a leading provider of image informatics solutions for pharmaceutical research and development (Nagesh Mhatre, chairman, board of directors, is an active TiE charter member)

Vish Mishra is convener of TiEcon 2002.
Raj Desai is executive director of TiE board of trustees.

Saving for College
Useful Finance Strategies
By Ashok Gupta

Sending your kid to college is the final chapter of success in the American dream. But with college expenses galloping way ahead of the inflation rate, you have to consider your strategy carefully and start saving early, counsels Ashok Gupta.

Sending children to college is a financial goal that many parents take seriously, and quite rightly so. However, too often the seriousness of this goal causes the parents to avoid any risk with their investments planned for college.

Hoping for sufficient funds for future college bills, many turn toward investments, which assure, and often insure, the return of principal. Investments like insured certificates of deposit, money market accounts, or U.S. Treasury securities may provide a good night’s sleep now, but may fall short of providing the necessary financial resources when needed.

Consider the facts: Statistics show over the past five years, tuition and fees for public colleges have risen faster than the inflation rate. For private schools, the cost increase is even greater. These increases mean investment returns during this same period merely kept pace; those earning less lost ground. Also, this comparison doesn’t consider the income taxes you paid.

Minimize Exposure to Risk

The key to college funding is minimizing the exposure to the different types of risk. Generally, this is accomplished by finding the proper balance between fixed-income (debt) investments and equity investments.

Debt instruments, such as savings bonds and CDs, promise the investor a designated interest rate during the security’s lifetime plus the return of the initial investment at maturity.

While debt instruments are usually more stable and predictable than equity investments, the dollars returned at maturity don’t have the buying power they did when the investment was made. This may make debt instruments an ineffective hedge against inflation.

Equity investments, like stocks and real estate, represent a complete or pro-rata ownership in the asset or entity. Equity investments have no maturity. The value at anytime is whatever another buyer, or the market, is willing to pay. This supply and demand component causes greater price fluctuation when compared to debt instruments — making equities more effective.

Therefore, because the values tend to reflect the changing costs of related goods and services, equities may be a more effective hedge against inflation.

Proper Balance of Investments

What is the proper balance between debt and equity investments? Unfortunately, the answer is, “it depends.” The proper balance depends on factors such as the age of the child, the rate of return needed to marry your investment amount to your goal, and your personal tolerance for risk (your good-night’s-sleep threshold).

Parents with young children should consider a heavier allocation toward equities.

An abundance of time reduces the impact of short-term market volatility. However, as college days draw closer, the relative stability of debt instruments like bonds or bond mutual funds will help minimize any surprises due to market volatility.

Mutual funds are an excellent place to turn as you prepare for college expenses. Most fund families offer a variety of debt and equity funds. Within each mutual fund, shareholders benefit from broad investment diversification and professional management. Then, as your objectives change, you can easily switch all or part of your holdings among the different funds. Finally, mutual funds are very affordable. Monthly investment programs are available for as little as $50 per month. Or initial, lump sum minimums of just a few hundred dollars may be more convenient.

The single, most important point about college preparedness is to start investing early. The earlier you start, the more prepared you are.

Teach Your Children the Value of Money

You teach your children to look both ways before crossing the street, but have you overlooked another principle equally as basic? Learning the value of money is something the entire family can benefit from, including your children. Here are two ways to improve your family’s knowledge in finances:

Make financial concepts seem more tangible. Make financial theories come to life by demonstrating different principles. For example, at your local library locate old newspapers and compare today’s prices with prices 25 to 50 years ago.

Or while you’re at the grocery store teach your child how to determine the best price per ounce.

When you are eating out, teach them how to calculate a tip.

You can also try a new twist on playing house with your children. Give them play money to make payments for the electricity, gas, phone and water as if they are homeowners. Vary the cost of the utilities according to the season and add property taxes and homeowner’s insurance during appropriate months. Offer the chance to buy privileges, such as deciding which movie to rent or choosing family meals for a week, with the extra play money left at each month’s end.

Set mutual goals. Establish joint goals for your family to strive for, like a special vacation or an expensive video game. Create reasonable amounts for each family member to contribute toward the goal. Your entire family will feel a sense of accomplishment when the goal is reached and understand what it takes financially to make such things possible.

Teaching your children the basics is important. So, when you’re educating them on the importance of not playing with matches, don’t forget to include the ABCs of finances.

Ashok Gupta is a registered representative with Principal Financial Group,
and is based in San Jose, Calif.

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Tamil Internet Conference
Bridging the Digital Divide
By Mani M. Manivannan

The world’s top IT experts will meet in Foster City, Calif., to showcase the latest developments in promoting Tamil for information technology, writes Mani M. Manivannan.

The world’s leading Tamil Internet Conference & Exhibition 2002 — Tamil Internet 2002 — will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Foster City, Calif. Sept. 27-29. The decision was announced May 1 by Prof. M. Anandakrishnan, chair of the International Forum for Information Technology in Tamil, host of the annual international conference.

Tamil, one of the major languages of India spoken by over 75 million people worldwide, has been a pioneer among Indic languages in technology implementation and development of digital, multimedia resources and information interchange through the Internet.

The International Forum for Information Technology in Tamil is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization that was founded in 2000 to coordinate scattered efforts in Tamil information technology development and promote standards for Tamil IT. Tamil, an ancient language with an unbroken literary tradition of nearly 2000 years, is spoken by over 75 million people worldwide. INFITT’s worldwide individual and institutional members are drawn from the pioneers and leaders of the Tamil internet and computing industry, universities, governments, investors and international organizations. It hosts an annual Tamil Internet conference and provides an international forum to address the issues influencing the evolution of Tamil in internet through its several working groups.

Tamil Internet 2002 is the fifth in the conference series, which began in 1997 in Singapore. Other conferences were held in Chennai in 1999, in Singapore again in 2000, and in Kuala Lumpur last year.

Centered on the theme “Bridging the Digital Divide,” this conference will focus mainly on technical, professional and business issues related to Tamil Internet and Tamil computing. The convention will consist of three components.

The technical conference will consist of keynote lectures and technical paper presentations by pioneers in their fields aimed at the specialists and those interested in following key developments. Topics to be discussed include digital Tamil archives, eradicating the digital divide, open source development for Tamil, web- and multimedia–assisted learning of Tamil, E-business and E-governance. Organizers expect over 200 delegates from all over the world.

An exhibition will be open to the general public where hardware and software products related to Tamil computing of leading vendors will be displayed with plenty of opportunities for hands-on trials and testing. The exhibition will also feature products in other Indian languages and is expected to draw more than 3,000 attendees over three days.

The community event will focus on four specific groups using Tamil language in the United States. There will be facilities for children to learn to use the digital resources to improve their Tamil language skills and parents can learn to use the online resources to teach Tamil. The youth will learn to use online resources to learn about their Tamil heritage and contribute their skills to help bridge the digital divide.  Elder Tamil Americans can learn to use computers and be able to communicate with other Tamils in Tamil.

“In organizing TI2002, we address the need for handling Tamil-related communication in a native way with Tamil scripts, sophisticated application software and information exchange through Internet,” said Prof. Anandakrishnan. “This effort helps serve a worldwide Tamil diaspora of over 75 million. Tamil internet and multimedia facilities have accelerated remote and online education, mobile platforms and digital libraries.”

Anandakrishnan noted with gratification the close collaboration of the Center for South Asia Studies and the chair in Tamil Studies of the University of California, Berkeley, that is a co-sponsor of the conference.

Anandakrishnan also announced the International Organizing Committee for Tamil Internet 2002 that includes of some of the leading Tamil software pioneers and educators in the Silicon Valley and around the world:

Chair: Mani M. Manivannan, U.S. (Member, Executive Committee, INFITT)

Deputy Chair: Steven M. Poulos, U.S. (Vice Chairman, Center for South Asia Studies, University of California, Berkeley)

Members: Prof. M. Anandakrishnan, India (Chair, INFITT)

Muthu Nedumaran, Malaysia (Vice Chair, INFITT)

Arun Mahizhnan, Singapore (Executive Director, INFITT)

K. Kalyanasundaram, Switzerland (Member, Executive Committee, INFITT)

M. Ponnavaikko, India (Director, Tamil Virtual University)

California’s Silicon Valley is the cradle of the IT civilization in some sense and we, the American hosts, are very pleased and honored to be able to bring the INFITT family to our home. I am also sure that Tamil Canadians, who have made Tamil such a strong presence on the web among Indic languages, will play a significant role.

IOC vice chair, Dr. Steven M. Poulos, has said: “To hold the Fifth Tamil Internet Conference in the San Francisco Bay Area is a natural intersection of the early University of California, Berkeley, contribution to the development of the internet; the central position of Silicon Valley in every aspect of hardware and software development over the past decades; the influx of Tamil Americans and other South Asians into this area and their incredible influence and success in the areas of computer engineering and software and hardware development; and finally the position of our Tamil studies program at the University as the most important program for studying Tamil language, literature and culture in North America.”

For more information about INFITT, readers can visit its Web site at http://www.infitt.org. To contact INFITT, please send email to secretariat@infitt.org.

Mani M Manivannan is a Tamil-American and a founder member of the International Forum for Information Technology in Tamil, a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization founded in 2000 to coordinate scattered efforts in Tamil information technology development and promote standards for Tamil IT.

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Checking Benefit Eligibility
Social Security Tips
By Cal Gee

Social Security is not just a tax you pay every year, says Cal Gee. It is a government-assisted trust fund to help those who are disadvantaged, and now there is an easy way to find out if you qualify.

Have you ever wondered if you might now be eligible for monthly Social Security benefits, or if you qualify for Medicare health insurance? Sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin when you are looking for information about large government programs.

But now Social Security has introduced a new online service that can provide some real help for you. It’s called the Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool — BEST. If you would like to know what benefits you may be eligible for, just log onto www.ssa.gov/best. It’s available in both English and Spanish.

You will need to answer some questions about your age and marital status. And there will be some questions about your personal finances. These questions will help determine if you may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income benefits, or if you can qualify for help with your Medicare premium.

BEST takes only five to 10 minutes to complete. You will not have to give any personal identifying information, such as your name or Social Security number. And once you exit this screening tool, all your answers will be permanently erased.

BEST is not an application for benefits. After you complete the questions and see the results, you then decide if you should apply for benefits.

You can file for retirement, spouse and disability benefits online at www.ssa.gov/applyforbenefits. You also can file a retirement, spouse, survivor’s, disability or SSI application by calling Social Security’s toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213, or visiting your local Social Security office.

May is Older Americans Month, and Social Security is joining the Administration on Aging and other organizations around the nation in celebrating the increasing number of older Americans who add so much to the our culture.

We are seeing more and more four-generation families, in which children know not only their parents and grandparents, but also great-grandparents. Social Security is paying retirement benefits to an increasing number of parents and children who are all over age 65.

When Older Americans Month was established in 1963, only 17 million Americans had reached their 65th birthday. Today, there are more than 35 million people age 65 and older living in the United States. By the year 2030, there will be twice that number.

At the same time, according to Social Security Administration statistics, the fastest-growing group of older Americans is those who are 85 and older. There are now more than four million Americans age 85 and older, up more than 35 percent from just ten years ago. And even the number of centenarians is rapidly rising. The Census Bureau reported that there are now more than 50,000 U.S. centenarians, up from 37,000 in 1990.

Cal Gee is works in public relations in the Social Security Administration.

Auto Review: 2002 Ford Focus ZX5
Five-door Bundle of Joy
By Al Auger

Our automotive editor Al Auger is mightily impressed with the 2002 Ford Focus ZX5, which he says combines the best European design features: It’s small, nimble, economical, fun yet has a high level of performance.

If you believe, as I do, there’s a growing trend of European influence in Ford cars, all you need do is take a look at the latest entry, the 2002 Ford Focus ZX5. Add the collaborative evidence of their continental product lineup of Jaguar, Volvo, Aston-Martin and English Ford. Further indications are embedded in the Lincoln LS based on the Jaguar S-type platform and the upcoming 500 built on the Jaguar X platform.

Ah, imposing as that bucketful of name dropping might be, the Focus ZX5 represents the truest European form of transportation on European roads: small, nimble, able to suck the highest level of performance from small sources, economical and fun. My only major gripe in my situation was the inclusion of the 4-speed automatic transaxle ($815) on our tester. How I yearned to toss this 5-door bundle of joy around with the aid of a 5-speed manual shifter.

You can bet you’re going to see the wannabe “street racers” loading up the ZX5 with all the trick aftermarket toys to do battle with the Proteges, Civics and Acuras. Take a look at the impressive list of standard equipment they will have to start with. The high winding 2.0-liter, DOHC, 16-valve Zetec in-line 4, 16-inch wheels and tires, anti-lock brakes, stepped-up suspension, and 6-CD in-dash changer. The latter included in the lists as it can be the kick-starter with high-decibels of Guns & Roses, Def Leopard and Anthrax. No mushy pop stuff here. Other standard equipment includes power remotes, tilt/telescoping wheel, cruise and air.

The 5-door hatchback has been a staple in Europe since its introduction. Domestically, the arrangement fell victim to America’s slathering of the great gods of trendy, short-lived fashions. The Europeans may demand performance and handling, but they can also be quite pragmatic. Ergo, a machine for all reasons.

Inside, the ZX5 is bigger than it looks with spacious 4-passenger seating, plenty of headroom and even three adults in the back seat for short spurts. Even though classified as a sub-compact, rear legroom is extensive. The rear seat folds 60/40 and provides a flat floor for cargo in addition to an already commodious rear cargo area.

Ford didn’t squeeze the nickel in outfitting our test machine, setting it up with stylish gray leather seating ($695), side impact airbags ($350) and good looking 16-inch aluminum wheels (standard). To enhance the handling they added their advance traction system ($1,625) that kept the P205/5016 tires tight on the road.

The instrument panel is laid out along the sweeping lines harking back to Ford’s ovoid period. Just a subtle touch of the contemporary industrial look is employed. All the controls are accessible and large with quick-read graphics and instrumentation.

Once you’ve driven the all-new 2002 Focus ZX5 it is appropriate you sit down and daydream of tweaks and twitches. Maybe a small liter V6 or larger displacement I-4, or a turbocharger, fatter high-performance 16-inch tires and, of course, a nastier sounding exhaust rumble.

Good looking in deep, lustrous black, a fun machine to drive and plenty of people and stuff space, the 2002 Ford Focus ZX5 has a space reserved in my garage.

Today’s Test Drive

2002 Ford Focus ZX5

  • Base price: $15,645
  • Price as tested*: $19,620
  • Engine: Zetec DOHC, SMPEFI, 16-valve in-line 4 cyl.
  • Displacement: 2.0-liter
  • Horsepower: 130 @ 5300 rpm
  • Torque: 135 lb.-ft. 4500 rpm
  • Transmission: 4-sp. automatic transaxle
  • Drive system: Front engine/front-wheel
  • EPA Class: Small compact
  • Wheelbase/length: 103.0/168.1 inches
  • Curb weight: 2600 lbs.
  • EPA fuel economy (est.): NA
  • E-mail: www.fordvehicles.com
    *Includes destination charge

Al Auger, our automotive editor has been writing about cars for over 30 years.
He has spent 20 years as a race driver and public relations specialist.

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Baisakhi Celebrated at Great America

For the first time Northern California’s premier amusement park Paramount’s Great America opened its doors to let Indian Americans celebrate Baisakhi. A whole day of folk dances, cultural performances and Indian booths was enjoyed by thousands of community members.

The event was hosted by the Federation of Indo-American Associations of Bay Area, the first organization in North America to host major Indian events in a mainstream amusement park. For the past two years FIBA has been celebrating Diwali at Great America where a day of festivities is capped with spectacular Diwali fireworks.

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Bollywood

Guftugu

The Dancing Queen

Bollywood is quite abuzz with Ameesha’a feat. Or should one say Ameesha’s feet? Ameesha Patel, you remember, made everyone sit up and take notice in her smash hit debut with teen heartthrob Hrithik Roshan in Kaho Naa … Pyar Hai all right, but critics just saw her cute face then. Then came the super patriotic Gadar, and critics raved only about her acting.

But hey, this Bollywood newcomer is talented literally from head to toe. At least that’s what those who saw her at the Humraaz music launch say. She can really shake her leg, say adoring admirers, and Ameesha gleefully agrees. Now let’s hope she knows how to step in the right direction.

Bollywood in Vilayat

Amitabh selling frocks, can you believe it? Well, it’s all for a good cause, the Big B says, after he played shopping clerk at upscale British departmental store Selfridges touting Bollywood. The store pulled out all the stops in its Bollywood celebration with a host of filmi glitterati in attendance. Amitabh and Jaya Bachhan, Dimple Kapadia, Madhuri Dixit and supermodels Kate Moss and Claudia Schiffer were among the 1,000 strong audience.

A compact version of Dimple’s mansion was re-created in the basement, mehndi, marigolds and A.R. Rahman’s music were everywhere. Yash Chopra, Nadeem and Saeed Jaffrey hung out, the Big B signed DVDs of Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. Not everybody was pleased, though. Indian-born Baroness Shreela Flather called it “ghastly,” but Selfridges managing director James Bidwell is unfazed. As long as the moolah comes in, what’s the problem? After all that’s why the British came to India in the first place, isn’t it?

Back to Biwi No. 1

Our lovable tapori star Govinda can give us his toothy smile again and mean it, too. It wasn’t too long ago that he was getting a bit too cozy with Rani Mukerji. Or so thought wife Sunita, and she was about to dump poor Chi Chi.

Govinda had appealed to Manisha Koirala to sort things out, and that’s exactly what the Nepali princess did. So recently when Govinda had dinner at Manisha’s, all was as it should be: Sunita was happily back to her rightful position as biwi no. 1, so she chatted on happily (and endlessly, say unkind observers) with Manisha, and Chi Chi was free to concentrate on something entirely harmless — the delicious Nepali food.

Cannes, Here We Come

Think Cannes, and gyrating desi pelves isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. After all, those snooty French have never thought much of the masaledar stuff Bollywood churns out, right?

Well think again. This year Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas will be screened in Cannes, and in “Homage to the Prince of Bollywood,” the festival will honor Raj Kapoor and screen his films Barsaat, Awara and Aag.

India’s feisty Information Minister Sushma Swaraj will lead a heavy-duty team of Bollywood bigwigs. After a run for the Oscars, now comes Cannes. Bollywood, it would seem, is ready to take on the world. Now if only they could add a dash of logic to their films!

Back to Work

The Baadshah of Bollywood has not had a particularly good run lately. His Asoka failed to set the cash registers ringing despite massive international hype by the producers. So Shah Rukh has been busy thinking things through for a while.

But the hyperkinetic Khan is now going to be back to work again. And it’s going to be a back-breaking schedule. There is his home production directed by a pair of Khans, choreographer Farah and Sohail, and then old pal Aziz Mirza will do another film starring him. Aditya Chopra has roped him in, as has Karan Johar. Enough to keep Shah Rukh very busy indeed, but will the films click when they reach the cinemas? That’s the question to which no one really knows the answer.

Sets on Fire

Sunny Deol is on patriotic mode, and papa Dharmendra had chipped in with Shaheed Bhagat Singh. Alas, even the loftiest of patriotic intentions cannot avoid accidents. A raging fire destroyed the film’s sets recently at Chandivili Studios, costing the producers at least Rs. 10 million. Producer Sunny Deol was in the U.S. at the time, and luckily there was no loss of life, but here’s the downside: Raj Kumar Santoshi, who is also making a film on the same subject, may have the last laugh after all, because now it seems extremely unlikely that Sunny Deol will be able to stick to his planned release date of June 21. Deol and Santoshi are rival producers in a race. One only wonders what the idealistic, youthful martyr Bhagat Singh would have to say about all this tamasha in his name.

Sony Buys Films

Sony Entertainment Television has acquired the Mukta Arts film library. Mukta Arts chief and Bollywood heavyweight producer Subhash Ghai and Sony TV CEO Kunal Das Gupta signed the deal April 24. A cool Rs. 160 million changed hands for 11 films for five years and is only for satellite telecast. The films include Karz, Hero, Karma, Trimurti, Ram Lakhan, Saudagar, Khalnayak, Pardes, Taal, Rahul and Yaadein.

Sony has a slew of time-tested Bollywood hits and Ghai’s pockets are heavy with hundreds of millions of rupees.

Terrorist Kamal?

Kamal Haasan had quite a surprise recently when he was about to board a plane for Los Angeles. At the airport in Toronto, he was prevented from boarding his flight because his name sounded Muslim. Custom authorities questioned him.

Kamal was in Toronto to shoot the Tamil film Panchathathiram and was flying down to Los Angeles to achieve a particular look for his next film to be directed by Priyadarshan. Toronto officials were skeptical that Kamal was going to get his make-up done in Los Angeles and later shoot in India. No amount of reasoning could convince officials, who stamped “refused” on his ticket to L.A.

Now, while it is true that Kamal’s recent films have had a toxic amount of violence, refusing him permission to travel is a rather extreme form of film criticism.

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Hindi Film Review
Romance, Mindless Mayhem


Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage

Director: Vikram Bhatt
Music: Rajesh Roshan
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Amisha Patel, Kiran Kumar, Alok Nath and Mukesh Tiwari

What kind of mix does romance and gratuitous violence make? Absolutely terrible, if you must know. Just go see this film. This latest Bollywood potboiler mixes youthful romance with mayhem of the most bloody kind, and the result is quite a pig’s breakfast.

If you think I am being too harsh, just let me lay down the story line, and you be the judge. Sapna (Amisha Patel) is the daughter of the murderous don Dholakia, while Rohit (Hrithik Roshan) is the happy-go-lucky engineering student in a local college. Before we come to the point where they meet, let’s take a quick look at their families.

Sapna’s family lives in a huge cavernous home with lots of empty space over which Dholakia rules with an iron hand. He has a sidekick Gafur, and a son Raman, a trigger-happy psychopathic thug. Raman’s wife is a compassionate woman, but in the Dholakia household, where all women are treated like doormats, that doesn’t count for much. We get a glimpse of the predominant lifestyle choice of this family right in the beginning of the film: At the news of an associate being killed, Raman and his cohorts unleash random gunfire and violence, shooting their way to nab the killers from a rival gang.

Rohit’s household is an idyll of happiness underneath the good-natured bickering of his parents, and both dote on their son.

Now we come to the part where the two lovebirds meet. This being a part gangster film, of course it has to be in the middle of a gunfight. So it is. As Sapna returns from a secret trip to a friend’s wedding, a bunch of goons from a rival gang accost her. You guessed it … our knight in shining armor Rohit happens to be riding a motorbike just next to her, and he takes on the thugs.

So what if all these guys are packing guns and Rohit is unarmed? He manages to beat some of them up and avoid them long enough till the Dholakia goons are in, and then Sapna is whisked away, but not till the two exchange long, adoring glances.

Dholakia is furious. To protect Sapna from the rival gang, she is not even allowed to attend school. How dare she sneak out, he asks. Of course, his protection doesn’t stop newspapers from running huge photos of her in the front page, which is mightily convenient for Rohit, who has been badly bitten by the love bug.

Now that Rohit knows where Sapna lives, all he has to do is to figure out a way of meeting her. Hey, this is a Bollywood film, guys, where coincidences are a dime a dozen. So it turns out that Navaratri is only a couple of days away, and surprise, surprise, some of Rohit’s closest cronies are performing at la maison Dholakia. Of course, Rohit gets to be part of the band, and in the Navratri festivities, the two lovebirds meet.

Raman, Sapna’s brother, catches them sneaking out in the parking lot and tries to beat Rohit up, but Sapna runs to her father, and Rohit, still largely unharmed, is brought to Dholakia who apologizes. After all, he saved his daughter’s life. Before going away, Rohit manages to leave his phone number to Sapna.

In a home where Sapna is guarded so strictly, Rohit appears to have no problem at all not only meeting Sapna and taking her on a late night joyride in town that includes a visit to his parents with the usual trimmings. You know what I mean: mom getting all misty eyed, issuing a sentimental welcome to the bahu.

After Sapna returns, undiscovered except by her bhabhi, there is bad news. Dholakia has decided to marry his daughter off to the son of an NRI bosom buddy of his. In keeping with the grand Dholakia tradition, Sapna’s views on the matter are considered irrelevant.

So Sapna flees and decides to hide in—get this—the boys’ hostel where Rohit lives. There is a big showdown after other hostel residents discover Sapna, but they agree to let her stay after a melodramatic appeal from her.

Dholakia initially suspects a rival gang has kidnapped Sapna, so we are all treated to another merry round of mayhem led by our dear friend Raman.

Eventually, Sapna’s family figures it out, and Raman turns up with gun-toting goons to take on the entire hostel. Now Mumbai may not be the safest of towns, but goons attacking an entire hostel in broad daylight? Ah well, this is Bollywood. In any case, the hostel residents are no wimps either, they turn up in droves armed with the student’s weapon of choice — hockey sticks — with soft drink bottles thrown in for good measure.

As Raman fumes, trapped by the students, in walks Dholakia, and apologizes to Rohit, promising him to give away his daughter in marriage. Sapna, in seventh heaven, returns home to discover that his dad’s promise was just a ruse. Dholakia sets up a meeting with Rohit, and asks him to lay off Sapna. Rohit pretty much asks him to take a hike, and so Dholakia leaves Rohit in the loving care of Raman, who takes vindictive pleasure in beating him into a pulp with the enthusiastic support of Dholakia goons.

Raman calls Dholakia to let him know Rohit is dead. “Dispose of the body carefully,” Dholakia tells his son. Overhearing this, Sapna is heartbroken, and swallows a mouthful of some mystery pill. (Without water, too. Rather impressive, that.)

Okay, so now it’s all over, you think. Rohit is dead and his body is left in a street, Sapna is on her way to reach him in the heavens, you figure this is where the film is headed, huh?

Well, not so fast. Mumbai, it turns out, is a real small town, and as the goon-convoy carries Sapna, presumably to an airport, it runs into …. What do you know? … the still undead Rohit.

Raman and his cronies step out and Rohit, it appears, has just come back from the dead.

Imagine the scene. On one side, Raman and his umpteen goons, all armed. On the other side, Rohit, who has just allegedly been beaten to death. Any guesses about who wins? (Hint: Decide what’s logical, and the answer is the exact opposite.)

And oh yes, there’s the strange case of Sapna, whose lethal dose of mystery pills causes her to vomit blood—this is one weird pill—who says to Rohit: “It’s too late.”

In the never-never-land of Bollywood logic, never say never. After all this, can they both survive? Can the egregious Dholakia make amends? Can Rohit accept that? All I am going to say is that don’t bet your shirt on what can happen in a Bollywood film.

The sad fact of the matter is that after all the hype surrounding Lagaan’s Oscar bid, Bollywood’s dreams of a more globalized appeal seem ridiculous after films like this. If stories lack maturity and even rudimentary intelligence, all the hype in the world will not make Bollywood films palatable to an outside audience, to which it will at best be a source of puzzlement, and at worst an unintended font of humor.

Rating: ** (Mediocre)

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Tamil Film Review:
Loophole-ridden Script


Rajjiyam

Director: Manoj Kumar
Cast: Vijaykant, Shamita Shetty, Priyanka Trivedi, Dilip, Murali, Mansur Alikhan.

Here is yet another action film for Vijaykant, the writer-director, which puts almost the entire burden of the film on the shoulders of his hero. The reason for this isn’t hard to fathom. The script just doesn’t have a whole lot going for it, so it can’t keep the audience glued to their seats.

Kartikeyan runs a private security agency. But the director appears clueless about the jurisdiction of the agency or its chief, and that is evident throughout the film. The police chief approaches Kartikeyan to track down some terrorists. Kartikeyan apprehends the terrorist, and is smart enough to videotape the activities of the unscrupulous jailer Kapilan, who allows the terrorists to escape. But why Kartikeyan doesn’t take similar pre-emptive steps to nail the escaping terrorists remains a mystery.

The governor Ashok Kumar, whose life Kartikeyan saves, feigns respect for him. He offers his support even when Kartikeyan is responsible for getting the man’s wayward son Kiran sentenced to death on a murder charge.

Kartikeyan has a wife and a daughter, and a mute brother Surya. Shamita Shetty has little to do as the wife, while for talented Malayalam actor Dilip it is a cake-walk as the mute brother Surya. Taking refuge in their house is Anuradha, who is on a vendetta. But as the character is neither well-defined nor taken seriously by the director, all that Priyanka Trivedi playing Anuradha can project is that she is bubbly, vivacious and heroine material.

Kapilan and Ashok Kumar get their chance to hit back at Kartikeyan, when Surya, caught among rioters, is mistaken for one of them, and hauled to jail. The duo make their devious plan to save Kiran from the gallows, using Surya as the scapegoat. Of course, Kartikeyan gets back at his tormentors finally.

Vijaykant fights with gusto, though the camera, which inadvertently catches the rope tied to the back of the hero, destroys the illusion as he does his gravity-defying leaps and kicks-in-the-air act. This is just one instance of the sloppy overall direction that makes this film such a disaster that at the end it is a too heavy a burden even for the redoubtable Vijaykant, rope or no rope.

— Malini Mannath
In association with Chennai Online

Recipe: Baked Paneer Potato
Delicious Vegetarian Snack
By Seema Gupta

It’s not a whole lot of work, the ingredients are also simple and easily available, yet the result is quite delicious, says Seema Gupta.

Ingredients

  • 14 boiled potatoes (medium sized)
  • 2 cup peas
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 5-6 finely chopped Thai chilies
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 lb paneer
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 6 tbsp grated Swiss cheese
  • Salt to taste
  • Ghee/ cooking oil for lining baking tray

Method

Add cilantro, chilies and lemon juice to peas and mix well.

Line an oven tray with ghee or cooking oil. Mash potatoes and lay a layer on the baking tray. Lay a second layer of peas mixed with cilantro, chilies and lemon juice. Lay another layer of paneer. Sprinkle the milk on the paneer.

Add salt to yogurt and mix in a blender. Pour contents evenly over the paneer.
Sprinkle with grated Swiss cheese.

Preheat oven to 350-400 degrees. Bake the contents of the oven tray for 20 minutes.

The baked paneer potato will be lightly browned. Serve hot with mint chutney.

Seema Gupta is a homemaker based in Sunnyvale, Calif.

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May-June Horoscope By Pandit Parashar

ARIES (March 21 to April 20): Financial and family issues will keep you on the edge. Do not trust anyone to avoid being cheated. A trip will be fruitful. You will have bright ideas but difficulty implementing them.

TAURUS (April 21 to May 20): Planets looks financially favorable as there will be short and long term gains. Listen to what your spouse has to say. Do not be a jack of all trades, get the right help. You may be traveling a lot.

GEMINI (May 21 to June 20): You will make intelligent decisions. People avoiding you the past will join you once again. You will be working on a big business deal. Legal matters will be decided favorably and a check will come in mail.

CANCER (June 21 to July 22): It will be a good month. You will spend time with family and visit old friends. You will spend money on home improvement. You will be involved in an important project at work. A recent relationship may turn into a permanent one.

LEO (July 23 to August 22): You will make impulsive decisions about you current work. Business meetings will go well. You will finally sign an important contract. Money can be seen coming your way. You will go on a short trip with family.

VIRGO (August 23 to September 22): Career seems to come at a standstill. An opportunity missed will not return soon. Obstacles may cause some frustration, but concentrate on what you have at hand. Expect a refund this month.

LIBRA (September 23 to October 22): Things will gradually improve. Do not lend money to any individual. You will do religious work. Advice from a learned person will help. You will get a call for second interview. Some of you may buy a property and plan to move this summer.

SCORPIO (October 23 to November 22): Tension in personal matters will grow. Some very old issues may come up again and will be difficult to deal. Travel plans will be cancelled. You will spend on buying gifts.

SAGITTARIUS (November 23 to December 22): Positive planets will guide you towards safer grounds and revive hope. You will finally get a sound job. You will be going on a short trip. A very interesting person will enter your life.

CAPRICORN (December 22 to January 19): You may not like your new job. Uncertainty will continue for a while. Watch your health. Children heading for College may miss admission in course of choice.

AQUARIUS (January 20 to February 18): Stay away from unnecessary arguments. Business will improve gradually. A new member will be added to the family. You will win ongoing legal battles. A very close friend will move to a different state.

PISCES (February 19 to March 20): Bad news will turn out to be a blessing in disguise. You will be cheerful and may arrange a get together at your place. Financial worries will subside. You will make a very wise and long-term investment.

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© Copyright 2006 U&I Marketing, Inc. • Siliconeer • All Rights Reserved • For Comments and Questions: info@siliconeer.com