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COMMUNITY | News in Brief: August 2009

Rajen Anand Named Director of USDA Nutrition Center | USINPAC Welcomes Roemer's Appointment | Ranked Third | Combat Corruption | ICC Family Day | Elected to SVEC | Renewable Energy

Rajen Anand Named Director of USDA Nutrition Center

Rajen Anand

Veteran community and Democratic Party activist Dr. Rajen Anand has been named executive director of the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The senior executive service post is a top-level appointment superseded only by appointments needing Senate confirmation. The salary level heading a U. S. center or department is typically above that of most presidential appointments.

In a July 8 statement, Vilsack said, “President Obama and I are firmly committed to improving the health and nutrition of the American people, and I am pleased to welcome (Anand) back to USDA because he has a deep and broad understanding of dietary guidance, nutrition and how public policy is made. As a former professor and civil servant, (he) will be a huge asset to our management team.”

The mandate of the center is to improve nutrition for Americans by linking research to dietary needs and to develop dietary guidelines and the MyPyramid food guidance system.

Anand is a graduate of the University of California at Davis, where he received a doctorate in human physiology, nutrition and biochemistry in 1969 and a second doctorate in veterinary medicine.

He has published over 40 scientific articles in journals and made presentations at numerous professional meetings. His research was focused on energy metabolism, mainly involving in-utero studies of the effect of maternal nutrition on the developing fetus.

A longtime community activist in the Indian American community, among his many involvements are serving as secretary, vice president, president and foundation chair of the National Federation of Indian American Associations; chair of the Indo-American Political Association; and chair and vice chair of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus.

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USINPAC Welcomes Roemer's Appointment

The U.S.-India Political Action Committee has welcomed the appointment of Timothy J. Roemer as the U.S. ambassador to India in a statement. Roemer takes over in New Delhi at the beginning of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's second term in office.

Sanjay Puri, the chairman of the U.S. India Political Action Committee said that "Mr. Roemer's nomination is reassuring as he brings with him quality experience on issues of terrorism as well as national and international security, a subject of great importance in this relationship." 

He added: "Mr. Roemer's past work in various positions made him a seasoned diplomat and his service as president of the Center for National Policy gave him an extra dimension to operate in India and in South Asia at large."

Puri said the new ambassador will have "an opportunity to build on the work of the past administration and set the tone for a new relationship."

USINPAC provides bipartisan support to candidates for federal, state and local office who support the issues that are important to the Indian-American community. more information is available on the Web at: www.usinpac.com

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Ranked Third

Nipun Bhandari

Nipun Bhandari, resident of Alamo, Calif.,  and a recent graduate from Monte Vista High School, was ranked third in the nation in the Senate, a chamber of mock congress.

The National Forensic League’s 78th National Championship took place in Birmingham, Ala.,  June 15-19. A total of 240 students participated in this event, top two students representing 120 leagues from all over the United States.

Competitors debated over 50 bills and resolutions ranging from “Increasing US troops in Afghanistan” to “Eliminating Agricultural Subsidies”. After four days of competition and spending nearly thirty hours in session speaking on several pieces of legislation, Nipun was awarded third place in the nation during an awards ceremony in Birmingham Concert Hall with a live audience of over 3,000 and many more watching on live TV broadcast.

Nipun is the highest ranking Californian in this event and matches the highest a Monte Vista student has placed in Congress in the past 20 years. The video recording of the final round, in which Nipun competed, will be used by all the schools in the nation for coaching purposes. 

“I am thankful for the guidance from my coach David Matley and the support I receive from all my teammates” said Nipun Bhandari after receiving the award.

In order to qualify to participate at the national competition, over 100 top students from all over the Bay Area High Schools competed for two spots to represent the San Francisco Bay District at the National Tournament. Nipun took 1st place during the qualifying competition during spring of this year.

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Combat Corruption

The expatriate Indian group, People for Lok Satta (http://www.peopleforloksatta.org/) has launched a campaign to garner support for an anti corruption amendment bill and sensitize the bill contents among the people of Andhra Pradesh. This bill has been drafted by Dr. Jaya Prakash Narayana, president of the Lok Satta Party.  He called on the government to introduce the bill in the upcoming Assembly session.

People for Lok Satta is urging the people of Andhra Pradesh to come forward and sign the online petition which calls on the chief minister to take on rampant corruption which is plaguing all levels of government.

The group’s anti-corruption campaign includes calls to MLAs, email campaign, online videos and writing to Indian news, print and TV media.

“Corruption cancer is killing India. We do not have strong laws to prevent corruption and punish the guilty. Only with public awareness and pressure on MLAs can the bill pass with majority support” said Hyma Sagi, who is spearheading the campaign for the group.

The online petition (http://www.petitiononline.com/acbill), which has gained more than 2,000 signatures so far, outlines the many provisions of the bill which facilitate seizure and forfeiture of property of corrupt public servants and establishing an independent anti-corruption agency.

“Combating corruption is not one party’s crusade but it’s everyone’s fight” said Kapil Bolisetti, a volunteer from the New Jersey chapter of People for Lok Satta.

“The success of the bill hinges on creating awareness of the bill by explaining the loopholes in the existing anti-corruption laws and the need for stringent laws to curb corruption. When enough pressure comes from people, the elected representatives will have no way but to support the bill. After all, aren’t they our voice?”

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ICC Family Day

Over 300 people attended the Family Day celebrations July 14 hosted by the Milpitas, Calif., -based India Community Center, according to an ICC press release.

“The true essence of being part of a family was seen at the India Community Center's Family Day celebrations. The event saw everyone in great spirits, having a wonderful time. The ambience was electric; the mood was jolly,” the release said.

“It was indeed a show that was by families, for families. The day certainly achieved what it set out to do... bring families together! Everyone, from the children to the seniors, performed acts to the joy of everyone and were rewarded with warm applause. From keyboard performances by kids to Bollywood dances by our revered seniors, the event was a success at all levels; everyone had a role to play.”

There was also a lucky draw, followed by a lunch. “It was a wonderful celebration of being a part of a family,” the release added. “It has been ICC's endeavor to unite, serve and celebrate the Indian community and events such as Family Day only serve to continue to foster community spirit.”

ICC has over 1,600 active members, including 400 seniors. More than 1,000 kids enroll in ICC summer camps every year and various Indian cultural programs.

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Elected to SVEC

The Silicon Valley Engineering Council, a nonprofit alliance of local engineering societies promoting engineering and engineering education, has elected two Indian Americans among its slate of officers for 2009-10.

Dhaval Brahmbhatt was elected president, K.R.S. Murthy was elected vice-president. Brahmbhatt is chief executive officer and president of San Jose, Calif.-based PHYchip Corp., which supports commercialization of research in emerging technologies.

A serial entrepreneur, he is a former adjunct faculty member in nanotechnology at both the Santa Clara University Graduate School of Engineering and Ohlone College in Fremont, Calif.

He founded the IEEE San Francisco Bay Area Nanotechnology Council and was a member of the California state Blue Ribbon Task Force on Nanotechnology. Brahmbhatt also chairs the Economic Development Commission in Milpitas, Calif.

Murthy is chief executive officer of Sunrgi, a solar power company formed in the newly-emerging “extreme-concentration photo voltaic” sector.

An authority on mergers and acquisitions, Murthy has worked in telecom, software, defense and aerospace. He was a CEO at several technology firms related to fuel cells, ethanol and alternative energies, in addition to holding executive posts at NASA, Bell Labs and GE.

Murthy served on the boards of six IEEE societies and was a professor of electrical and computer engineering and professor of management at California State University.

A frequent speaker at international conferences, he has composed more than 3,000 music compositions covering most music genres.

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Renewable Energy

Sunny skies and more than 50 bidders and spectators showed up at the Sheraton Crescent in Scottsdale, Ariz.,  for the nation’s first large-scale solar land auction.  By mid-afternoon, two of the five parcels being sold by Vermaland had changed hands.  The auction featured five parcels totaling 1,938 acres of prime solar property near Tonopah, Harquahala, and Hyder, south and southwest of the Valley.

“One property sold prior to the auction, one at the auction itself, and a third parcel is currently in negotiation  following the auction,” said Kuldip Verma, president and chief executive officer of Vermaland.

Verma said they are fielding inquiries on the other properties from solar energy companies.

“The auction greatly exceeded our expectations,” says Anita Verma-Lallian, marketing director of Vermaland.  “The auction brought the properties to the attention of some  parties that we had never been in contact with, as well as reminded others we had spoken with in the past, of the property, which is highly suitable for solar development.”

Approximately 36 percent of land with a high solar resource factor exists in Arizona, according to Kuldip Verma. Within Arizona, the solar resource factor is the highest in Tonopah, Harquahala, Gila Bend, Hyder, Yuma and Kingman. Seven large utility scale solar developers have acquired or have options to acquire land in these areas, while several other solar companies are currently looking for lands in these areas. Utility scale projects typically need 1,200 to 3,000 acres to make their plants cost effective.

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