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COMMUNITY | News in Brief:

Scholarship Awards for High School Students | Anheuser-Busch Norman Y. Mineta Fellowships | Hospital Opens | Fundraising Screenings | Mahayagya | Obituary | Aurangzeb Exhibit

Scholarship Awards for High School Students

Applications are now being accepted from qualified high school and middle/junior high school students graduating in the year 2008 for scholarship awards that will be presented at the 22nd Annual India Heritage Awards function slated for May 4 in Long Beach, Calif., according to an announcement from the Indian American Heritage Foundation.

Started in 1987, the Indian American Heritage Foundation has been sponsoring the annual event to celebrate the accomplishments of high school and middle school graduates of Asian Indian descent in academic, sports, community service, visual and performing arts, and science and technology. The foundation is at the forefront among Indian American organizations in publicly recognizing, rewarding and celebrating excellence of the community’s best and brightest graduating students, who have excelled in their academic studies and extra-curricular activities.

As many as twenty one scholarships will be handed over to qualified students at the India Heritage Awards function. Eight scholarships ranging from $2000 to $500 will be given to the winning graduates in the High School Academic category, while four Outstanding Achievement Awards of $500 each shall be presented to applicants excelling in math & science, sports, community service and visual and performing arts. An applicant who obtains perfect score on the quiz and/or SAT shall each get a special award of $100 each. Besides the cash prizes, the first place winner in the academic, Science, sports, community service and visual and performing arts will each receive a revolving trophy with his/her name inscribed on it. In the Middle School category, five scholarships ranging from $500 to $100 for excellence in academics and one of $250 for excellence in visual and performing arts will be given.

The deadline for completed applications is April 21, 2008. More information can be obtained by sending email to awardsforgraduates@yahoo.com. If access to the internet is not available, application forms or any other information may be obtained by calling Inder Singh at (818) 708-3885.


Anheuser-Busch Norman Y. Mineta Fellowships

At the 15th Anniversary Benefit Dinner of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association Educational Fund held April 2 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.  (From l-r): Parag Khandhar, 2007 Anheuser-Busch Norman Y. Mineta Fellow; Albert Ting, 2003 Anheuser-Busch Norman Y. Mineta Fellow; Norman Y. Mineta, former U.S. secretary of transportation; Jim Cho, senior manager, Asian marketing & community relations, Anheuser-Busch, Inc.; Sujit Raman, president, Asian Pacific American Bar Association Educational Fund; William Tong, Connecticut state representative; and Eugene Chay, 1996 Anheuser-Busch Norman Y. Mineta Fellow.

On behalf of Anheuser-Busch, Inc., Jim Cho, senior manager, Asian marketing & community relations, presented a check for $7,000 to Sujit Raman, president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association Educational Fund, to fund the 2008-2009 Anheuser-Busch Norman Y. Mineta Fellowship.  The presentation took place at AEF's 15th Anniversary Benefit Dinner at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.  William Tong, an attorney and Connecticut's first Asian Pacific American state representative, provided the keynote address.

"Anheuser-Busch has been a strong supporter of AEF since its inception 15 years ago," said Jim Cho, senior manager, Asian marketing & community relations, Anheuser-Busch.  "We are proud to continue our longstanding and rewarding relationship with AEF through our support of the Anheuser-Busch Norman Y. Mineta Fellowship."

 "The Anheuser-Busch Norman Y. Mineta Fellowship is critical to supporting the public interest work I came to law school to do," said 2007 Fellow Parag Khandhar.  "Thanks to the Fellowship and AEF, I will be able to represent those in our community who need assistance fighting evictions, surviving domestic violence and dealing with unscrupulous businesses practices."

 "AEF has accomplished incredible things over the last fifteen years, none of which would have been possible without the generosity and support of Anheuser-Busch," said AEF president Sujit Raman.  "The company has been one of our greatest boosters, not only by endowing our flagship fellowship, the AEF Anheuser-Busch Norman Y. Mineta Fellowship, but also by pushing organizations like ours, year after year, to do more for the Asian American community and for our entire society as a whole."

For more than 15 years, Anheuser-Busch has contributed to Asian Pacific American communities through the development and support of a variety of programs that help meet the needs of these diverse communities.


Hospital Opens

The Sankara Eye hospital was inaugurated on March 9 in Bangalore, according a press release from the Sankara Foundation. This launch pad facility is the first of the three hospitals (Shimoga and Anand in Gujarat are the other two) to be constructed in 2008 which will add to the accomplishments currently delivered by the five working hospitals (Coimbatore, Guntur, Krishnan Koil, Pammal and Silvassa) in India. The hospital is a 225-bed, state-of-the-art facility with 25 beds for paid patient services and includes a cataract, IOL clinic, glaucoma and retina services, pediatric ophthalmology, Lasik laser center, a cornea clinic and eye bank.

This hospital will cover Bangalore, Bangalore Rural, Mandya, Hassan, Mysore, Kolar, Tumkur and Chamrajanagar districts.  The hospital aims to become self sufficient in three to five years and conduct 25,000 free eye surgeries every year for a total of 100,000 free eye surgeries per year by all the Sankara hospitals.

The facility was inaugurated by Chief Secretary of Karnataka, Sudhakar Rao and S. Gopalakrishnan, managing director and CEO of Infosys. Infosys Foundation sponsored the community wing of the hospital while other prominent donors and partners like B.V. Jagadeesh, Mission for Vision, Sight Savers, Jaslok  Foundation, Dayanand Pai, Mantri builders, Robert Bosch foundation, Sri.V. Venkata Reddy, Dr. P.J. Bagilthaya, Nandlal Mohanlal Charitable Trust and Salapuria Foundation made major contributions towards the hospital construction and equipment.

Sankara Eye Foundation has committed to raising $1.75 million dollars towards the total cost of $4 million dollars for the hospital construction.  With local communities and organizations like AKKA, KKNC and their generous donations, SEF has raised $1.25 million dollars so far and needs to raise $500,000 to fulfill its commitment.

For more information on SEF, visit www.giftofvision.org or call 1-866-SANKARA.


Fundraising Screenings

Filmmaker Vinanti Sarkar is organizing joint fundraising screenings of her documentary film Mistaken Identity in the U.S. Canada, U.K. and E.U. and India as part of a global media event, inviting partners to promote cultural diversity in America, according to an announcement from her.

Mistaken Identity is anchored by 22-year old Amanda Gesine, from Greenwich, Conn., who discovers her Sikh neighbors after 9/11 for the first time. She never had a Sikh friend in school or college and strongly felt that racial profiling starts with ignorance and fear.

According to Sarkar, it is the first film produced for mainstream North America, U.K. and E.U. and part of a series of "getting to know the cultural and religious backgrounds of multicultural ethnic minority neighbors" in today's pluralistic society worldwide.

“When PBS requested that we give the one hour TV program for ‘free,’ we moved across the USA and Canada successfully selling DVDs at the institutional Library Distribution rate of $250 for the classroom and auditorium teaching ethnic media, multicultural communications, divinity and comparative religions, modern and Asian anthropology, South Asian studies, human rights, tolerance, racial equality, etc., and strongly recommended for the attention of the Librarian,” writes Sarkar. “Most partners held fundraisers for their departments as a celebration of cultural diversity.”

The film has had a strong impact on informing and educating the non-Sikh population in North America where screenings demanded Q & A, making the event into a social and cultural ethnic study on South Asia and Sikhs, Sarkar writes.

“We won three first prize awards at American film festivals and had the honor of being screened at the National Arts Club, Harvard University's Centre for World Religions and Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania,” writes Sarkar. “It was screened at the House of Commons in Ottawa to commemorate the fifth anniversary of 9/11.

“We received a request for its India premiere to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11 in New Delhi . . . with a private screening in Parliament House and on the national TV Doordarshan . . . on Sept. 11.”

For more information, email Sarkar at vsarkar1@earthlink.net or visit the following Web sites: www.cultural-diversity.co.uk or www.globalfilmlinks.com.



Scene from world unity prayers hosted in 2007.

The Greater Atlanta Vedic Temple “has ushered on a path of internal and external cleansing in a pious non inflicting way” by organizing The Annual Mahayagya (unique collective Vedic prayers  for fostering world unity) to be performed at Atlanta Vedic Temple April 27, according to a temple announcement.

“The world is disintegrating with disasters like global warming, felling of trees, animosity, killings, elimination of flora and fauna, non-vegetarianism and the like,” said the announcement. “While the world over, there is gradually increased recognition that fusion is more relevant rather than fission to lead a better life in this world, very little is being done to alleviate the suffering and augment true happiness. The essence lies in purifying the environment within and around us.”

The Mahayagya will give all participants and attendees an opportunity to appreciate how the simple process of yagya endeavors to bring hope by uniting the fragmented societal limbs and transforming them into an Aryaputra (noble human being), the announcement added.

“With the collective resounding recital of selected Vedic hymns, this mega-prayer will be conducted in the same manner as in ancient times and will truly favorably impact the 'atman' and 'atmosphere' alike,” said the announcement. “The main goal of this large platform prayer meet is to strengthen collective physical, mental, and spiritual power, leading first to consciousness and then to actual world unity and blissful togetherness. The herbal ingredients offered into the sacred fire have the capacity and power to purify the conscience and the sub-conscience.”

The prayers will be led by Vidyamartand Dr. Dilip Vedalankar. For more details, visit the temple Web site at www.vedictemple.org.



Rose D’Souza  of Forest Park, Ill., died March 22 after a short illness caused by a collapse of both of her lungs in Loyola Hospital, Chicago, according to her family members. She was 85.

Rose was born to Simon and Piadade D’Souza of Fajir Parish in Mangalore, India, in 1923.  She was the youngest child in a family of 14 children.

She married Gaulbert D’Souza, a famous ladies tailor from Falnir, Mangalore, in 1945 at the age of 22 and after marriage they made their permanent residence in Nanthur, Mangalore.

Rose was a tireless and dedicated housewife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Taking care of her children was her number one priority, looking at their homework, cooking, cleaning, and also helping her husband with minor clothing alterations.  She never missed Sunday mass with her envelopes of donations no matter how sick she was.

Rose migrated to the U.S. in 1985 and was a resident of Forest Park ever since.  She attended St. Bernardine’s Church for her religious needs and never went to sleep without reciting a whole rosary and praying for the entire world.  She leaves behind three daughters, Leonilla (Ligoury); Dorothy (Godwin); Queenie (Jossie); five sons, Austin (Terry); Norbert; Stany (Vissia); Melville (Merlyn); Felix (Lorraine); sixteen grand children, Allen (Travissa); Albina (Arun); Anita, Gail, Gwayne, Anil, Niketha, Atina, Angel, Joey, Shawn, Travis, Cheryl, Shannon, Jason, Ashley  and one great-grandchild  Baby Keira.

Her funeral was held at St. Bernardine’s Church, in Forest Park, Ill.,  March 25.  She was buried in Queen of Heaven Cemetery,  in Hillside, Ill.


Aurangzeb Exhibit

On March 8, K.N. Murli, the assistant commissioner of police in Chennai and several other Tamil Nadu state government officials attacked an art exhibition, shut it down and damaged several paintings.

The exhibition, organized and sponsored by the Foundation Against Continuing Terror and Francois Gautier, the eminent French journalist, featured miniatures and farmans (edicts) depicting the despotic and violent rule of the 17th Century Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.

Aurangzeb is particularly reviled as a predecessor of contemporary Islamist terrorists for his forced conversions, imposition of an intolerant Sharia and destruction of several famed Hindu temples.  The Hindu American Foundation condemned the actions of the state and demanded a restoration of the damaged paintings and a continuation of the exhibit.

Gautier, the convener of FACT, and correspondent for Le Figaro, expressed shock that even after the exhibition has been displayed for over a year in several galleries throughout India, the Tamil Nadu state government reacted to a few isolated complaints so violently.  Murali specifically sought out and threw to the ground two paintings that depicted the destruction by Aurangzeb of the Somnath Temple in Gujarat and the Kesava Rai Temple in North India.

The exhibition of 40 paintings, included fine miniature paintings by Indian artists, and were on show at the Lalit Kala Akademi from March 3, 2008.

The Hindu American Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan organization promoting the Hindu and American ideals of understanding, tolerance and pluralism.



Click here to read in PDF format

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