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COMMUNITY | News in Brief:

BAPS Hosts First Women’s Conference | Outstanding Asian American in Business Award | A Cry for Indian Kids | Health Meet | Kerala Center Honors | GOPIO in Brisbane | Dutch Honor | Donates Millions

BAPS Hosts First Women’s Conference

Susan Estevez, wife of Milpitas Mayor Jose Estevez is seen after being presented with a welcome bouquet.

When Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai struggled to create sustainable change in Africa, she was inspired by the following message: “One woman can make a difference. But one empowered woman can change the world.”

This powerful message provided the same inspiration to 200 women in Milpitas, Calif. June 21, when the Bochansanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha hosted its first women’s conference. The event was part of the United Nations International Women’s Day celebrations held across the globe.

The conference explored the impact of social, cultural, health, educational and spiritual investment in women and girls. Social activist Smita Patel spoke on the importance of social investment by talking about her experiences as the founder of Mountain Children’s Forum, a grassroots movement in Northern India. MCF organizes children in rural villages to set up their own “Bal Panchayats,” or children’s groups, to rally for issues such as eradicating addictions, improving cleanliness, and expanding education.

Gayathri Ramprasad, founder of ASHA International, an organization that promotes global mental health awareness, discussed the power of cultural investment.

Dr. Andrea Yao, MD of the Bay Area motivated the audience to make simple changes in diet and exercise to reverse the impact of diabetes.

Dr. Nzeera Ketter, an infectious disease specialist, discussed the critical need to invest in education for women. While working on HIV vaccination research, she learned that providing high school education for girls in Africa can reduce their chances of HIV infection by 50 percent.

The final speaker who discussed spiritual investment was Nikshita Patel, a senior administrative assistant at Comerica Bank and national coordinator for BAPS women’s programs.

Susan Estevez, wife of Milpitas Mayor Jose Estevez attended the event.


Outstanding Asian American in Business Award

Neeta Bhasin with Robert Yi of State Farm Insurance.

Neeta Bhasin, president and founder of ASB Communications, has won the Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business Award, according to a press release.

Organized by the Asian American Business Development, the Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business Award is the first and largest business award program for the Asian American business community (www.aabdc.com). The 2008 award program honored accomplishments made in 2007. The 2008 award dinner was held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in NYC on May 28, 2008.

Companies like Aetna, AIG, Macy's, IBM, Lehman Brothers, The New York Times and many more sponsored this annual event. The recipient of the award must be nominated by select companies.

ASB Communications (www.asbcommunications.com), founded by Bhasin, is a leading multicultural communications agency specializing in the South Asian, Asian, Middle Eastern and African Communities in North America.

Bhasin is a prominent TV personality, and a very familiar face for South Asian audiences in New York and New Jersey. A graduate from Queens College, her passion for television, business, and community related issues, led her to working towards building bridges between the diverse groups of society. Her vast knowledge about the community and experience in the field has led her to being invited as a guest lecturer at NYU, St. John’s University and public forums, to speak specifically on the South Asian market in the U.S. Neeta has played an important role in building awareness and in securing a significant position for the vibrant South Asian market within the multicultural market space in the U.S.


A Cry for Indian Kids

A call to empower children was made by experts May 28 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York at a press conference hosted by CRY America Inc., a U.S. non-profit organization that works toward restoring basic rights to underprivileged children, especially in India. CRY is an acronym for Child Rights and You.

Panelists comprising Shefali Sunderlal, president of CRY America and Dr. Niraj Kumar Mishra, founder of a grassroots organization in India, SATHEE (Society for Advancement in Tribes, Health, Education, Environment) highlighted the continuing dire situation of such children and presented a proven, lasting solution.

At the conference, Sunderlal cited India’s stark dichotomy, “Whereas on one side India is experiencing unprecedented economic success, it is yet to attain the most basic social development indicators for its children. Millions of underprivileged children have their survival threatened on a daily basis due to malnutrition, illiteracy, child labor, preventable diseases, abuse and exploitation.”

“Sustainable change is possible only if underprivileged communities are actively engaged in seeking solutions collectively and issues are addressed holistically from a social justice perspective,” said Sunderlal. “Through this child rights approach we have witnessed in thousands of villages, 100 percent of their children are enrolled and retained in schools today, villages are 100 percent child labor free and thousands of communities have access to Public health facilitates and are together functioning towards the benefit of their children.”

Mishra presented a firsthand account of the success of the child rights-based approach at SATHEE, a CRY America-supported project. One of SATHEE’s various community initiatives is the formation of Bal Sansads (children’s parliaments) in villages across Jharkhand. In these forums, children question their situation in the presence of local officials and demand that their basic rights to education, health, sources of livelihood for their parents, and freedom from labor and exploitation be restored. “Girl children who once were confined to the four walls of the house have now become flag bearers of their communities by having a say in decisions affecting their lives, like saying ‘no’ to child marriage,” said Mishra.

CRY America replicates the success of projects like SATHEE across India and has positively impacted the lives of 156,503 children in 1,211 villages and slums throughout the country in just five years of its existence.


Health Meet

Jatin Kumar of California Homeopathic Clinic (with child on lap) with attendees of a conference on alternative health June 17 in Sunnyvale, Calif.

A conference on mental health and alternative health was hosted June 17 at Madhuban Indian Cuisine, Sunnyvale, Calif., according to a press release from organizers. This meeting was well attended by people of different skills and professions. Jatin Kumar of California Homeopathic Clinic organized this event. Dr. Harmesh Kumar, a psychologist, talked about the necessity of mental health in United States. He shared his experiences with the audiences, along with details of his personal journey in the field of mental health.

Aida Celis talked about the West Coast Wellness products for helping people with mental health conditions. Rocky Aroda of New York Life, and Didar Singh Mundi, a financial analyst, explained the benefits of having long term care

“The best part of this conference was connectivity between different professionals,” the release said. “It is more like working as a team and helps bring communities together.”

Sandeep Chahal from Punjab News and Varinder Ubhi of Sargam TV Show represented the media.


Kerala Center Honors

Dr. Thomas Abraham being honored by the Kerala Center (l-r): Jose Chummar, Thambi Thalappillil, Raju Thomas, Dr. Thomas Abraham, Dr. Nitya Abraham, Dr. Susy Abraham, Sebastian Paul, and P.S. Sasi Kumar

GOPIO chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham and Kalathil Varghese, the newly appointed Human Rights Commissioner, Nassau County, New York, were honored June 7 during the 18th anniversary celebrations of Indo-American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center, Elmont, N.Y., according to a press release. Attended by nearly 300 people from across the New York tri-state area, the event celebrated the achievements and contributions of Kerala Center over the past two decades.

The event began with the lighting of the lamp by Sebastian Paul, a Member of Indian Parliament from Ernakulam, Kerala, P.S. Sasi Kumar, counselor at the Indian Consulate in New York, and leaders of the Indian community in the United States.

In his welcome address, Jose Chummar, president of the center, reminded the audience of the humble beginnings of Kerala Center in a basement nearly two decades ago, and how it has come to symbolize the achievements and aspirations of the Malayalee community in the United States.

In addition to Indian languages, music and dance classes for children and SAT coaching for youngsters, the center has also been providing platform for various political leaders to have political awareness and campaign meetings with the Indian community. It has become a forum for various religious activities of different faiths. The center has become a facility that serves the various needs of the larger Indian American community.

Thambi Thalappillil, a trustee of the Kerala Center, while introducing Dr, Thomas Abraham, described him as the "proud son of Indian community in the United States."

Dr. Abraham has been instrumental in founding several local, national, and global organizations that serve humanity, he said. Dr. Abraham, who was given the highest civilian award to an NRI, the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, by the government of India, was presented with an award of appreciation from the Kerala Center by Lok Sabha member Paul.


GOPIO in Brisbane

GOPIO officers with Mayor Paul Pisasale of Australia’s City of Ipswich (l-r): Dr Jagvinder Singh Virk, chairman, GOPIO Australia Business Council; Paras Ram Punj, co-chairman, GOPIO-Australia Business Council; Pisasale; GOPIO International president Inder Singh; and Umesh Chandra of GOPIO Brisbane.

Local Australian Indian community activist Parasram Punj hosted an initiation party May 16 of people of Indian origin and dignitaries towards setting up a chapter of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin in Brisbane, Australia. The same day earlier, GOPIO president Inder Singh, GOPIO Australia Business Council chairman Jagvinder Singh Virk and GOPIO Brisbane initiators called on Mayor Paul Pisasale of the City of Ipswich, who extended and invitation to GOPIO members to invest in the city.

GOPIO plans to expand chapters in other cities in Australia, according to Gambhir Watts, National Coordinator, GOPIO Australia. Watts can be reached by email at gambhir@bmgw.com.

Interested readers can get more details of GOPIO activities in the Oceanic Region (Australia, New Zealand and Fiji) by reaching GOPIO's Pacific Regional Coordinator Noel Lal, who can be reached by email at spe@spengineering.com.au.


Dutch Honor

Henna Mathura-Dewkinandan, 57, has been awarded with the knighthood of the Order of Orange-Nassau. She received the honor for her extensive volunteer work.

For more than twenty years Mathura has been active in the afterschool support of Hindustani parents to help them with their social problems. She has been the president of the Sarita foundation for 14 years and organizes various activities. Her main goal is to promote diversity in higher positions and to create more opportunities of day care centers so that women have a better chance to develop themselves. For elderly people she has been active as the secretary of the Hindu Elderly People's Association.

In the ’90s, Henna Mathura was famous for presenting a bilingual radio program in which she took on topics such as domestic violence and parasuicide with the objective to move these issues out of the taboo sphere.

Currently, Mathura is active at the Melania foundation, an international project for and by women in developing countries in Asia, Africa and South America. Apart from all her voluntary work, Henna is employed as a teacher and education project leader at the ROC Mondriaan.


Donates Millions

Venture strategist and scientist John N. Kapoor, founder, chairman and CEO of E.J. Financial Enterprises, Inc., has given $5 million to University of Buffalo and recently he increased that sum to $10.8 million.

Kapoor's generosity will help strengthen the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences' research core, provide resources to create a state-of-the-art instrumentation center and fortify the pharmaceutical-science faculty. The gift is considered a leadership gift in UB's $250 million campaign — the university's first national-international campaign, the first university-wide campaign and the first to be alumni-driven, with campaign volunteer leaders from all over the country. It is the largest gift ever given to the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Born in 1943 in India, Kapoor received his undergraduate degree in pharmacy from Bombay University and dreamed of coming to the United States for graduate work. Financial support from UB enabled him to earn his doctorate from the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1972.

Kapoor began his corporate career on Grand Island as general manager for Lyphomed, a unit of Stone Container Corp. He was named president of the division in 1980, and in 1981 he bought the company for $2.7 million — becoming chairman, president and CEO, and renaming the firm Lyphomed Inc. During his years managing Lyphomed, Kapoor increased sales to $172 million from $4 million. He sold Lyphomed and used $40 million of the profits to form E.J. Financial Enterprises Inc., which invests in health-care startups.



Current Issue in PDF Format:
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The Obama Revolution:
A New Era in U.S. Politics

The nomination of Sen. Barack Obama for the U.S.presidential elections marks a profound political revolution and South Asians should get on the bandwagon, writes Partha Banerjee.

Ode to a Titan: Faizan-e-Faiz
Urdu enthusiasts gathered to honor the greatest Urdu poet after Ghalib, writes Ras H. Siddiqui.

Our Gods on Earth:
A Rationalist’s Dilemma

When reason gets short shrift in the frenzy over spiritual leaders, what is a rationalist with a scientific temper to do? Sujit Saraf writes about how he chose to write a play.

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A Trip to Hong Kong: Travels in Cathay

EDITORIAL: Obama and South Asians
SUBCONTINENT: India’s Bio-fuel Option?
COMMUNITY: iForum Meet
COMMUNITY: AAPIO Doctors Celebrate
CONCERT: Indian Ocean Live
BUSINESS: BioPharma in India
AIR TRAVEL: Jet Airways at SFO
MUSIC: An Evening of Ghazals
RECIPE: Makhan Malai Paneer
BOLLYWOOD: Film: Sarkar Raj
TAMIL CINEMA: Pidichirukku
COMMUNITY: News in Brief
COMMUNITY: Gujarat Day

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