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COMMUNITY | News in Brief:

Bay Area Temples Welcome New Year with Puja | CAPAC Applauds Obama’s Selection of Two Asian Americans | Dr. Noel Rao Honored | United Way: New Chapters | ZEE TV U.S. Territory Head | DIRECTV: UTV Movie Channel | Support Romas | AAJA's Call for Diversity

Bay Area Temples Welcome New Year with Puja

Puja being performed at the Fremont Hindu Temple to mark the new year.

Devotees at the Sunnyvale Hindu Temple welcomed the new year with a ‘Vishal 108 Kundi Vedmata Gayatri Mahayagna.’ The three-hour sermon was conducted by visiting priest Pandit Vivek Shukla who was here specially for the yagna from Haridwar, India. The event witnessed a full house and was followed by prasad.

The first day of 2009 was celebrated at the Fremont Hindu Temple with traditional puja and prayers, according to a temple press release. The traditional New Year puja started with ganpati homam followed by ganpati puja, a prayer to Lord Ganesh — to make the new year clear of all obstacles and full of success, happiness and prosperity for all devotees.

Pandit Govind Srinivasan performed the homam. A large number of devotees attended the homam and new year puja.

Prasad was distributed after the homam, followed with a preeti bhoj.

Ajay Bhutoria greeted the devotees on behalf of the Fremont Temple Management Committee.

A huge crowd of more than 1,800 people visited the temple on New Year’s day, and had a sumptuous prasad lunch.


CAPAC Applauds Obama’s Selection of Two Asian Americans

Retd. Gen Eric Shinseki and Steven Chu (r).

The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Dec. 15 applauded President-elect Barack Obama’s selection of Dr. Steven Chu as his secretary of energy. Dr. Chu and retired Army Gen. Eric Shinseki, who was named as secretary of veterans affairs, are the two Asian Americans selected for cabinet-level positions by Obama. Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., chair of CAPAC, made the following statement upon his announcement:

“I am so pleased that President-elect Obama has named two Asian Americans to his cabinet, Dr. Steven Chu as secretary of Energy, and retired Army Gen. Eric Shinseki as secretary of Veterans Affairs. I’m glad that the new administration is demonstrating its commitment to not only diversity, but also to science. Dr. Chu, a pioneer in renewable and alternative energy, is a good friend, and fellow Californian.

“I have had the honor of working with Dr. Chu on numerous occasions, including during his service as an Executive Special Advisor to my Blue Ribbon Task Force on Nanotechnology throughout 2005, and his appearance as a witness at a House Science Committee Energy Subcommittee hearing that I organized in 2006 on the potential of renewable energy technologies. The President-elect continues to bring the best and brightest onto his team. His commitment to a cabinet that reflects America’s great diversity is evident.”

Dr. Chu, currently the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, won the 1997 Nobel Prize in physics for the development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light.

Dr. Chu and Gen. Shinseki are the first Asian Americans named to their respective posts in the Obama administration. In 2000, Secretary Mineta became the first Asian American to serve in a presidential cabinet.


Doc Honored

Dr. Noel Rao

The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation has recognized Chicago-based Dr. Noel Rao, MD, by awarding him their Distinguished Clinician Award. This honor is given to individual physiatrists who have achieved distinction on the basis of their scholarly level of teaching and their outstanding performance in patient care activities, as well as their contributions to the academy and to the advancement of the specialty of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Rao is vice president of medical affairs at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital and Clinics in suburban Chicago, and director of its PM&R residency program. Rao is also associate professor in the department of PM&R at Rush Medical College, part of Rush University in Chicago.

“This award is a tribute to my Marianjoy colleagues and our resident physicians who challenge and inspire me; our CEO, Kathleen Yosko, who fully supports medical education and research; and the caring and nurturing environment of Marianjoy,” said Rao.

Rao adds this award to the list of publications and professional organizations that have recognized him for exceptional dedication and patient care. In 1997 and 2001, Dr. Rao was named a Top Doctor by Chicago magazine and every year since 1996, he has been named to the list of "Best Doctors in America." In 2005 he was given the Distinguished Physician Award from the Indian American Medical Association of Illinois.

A leader in the field of PM&R, Dr. Rao directs clinical services and the residency program at Marianjoy. He is a board-certified physiatrist specializing in brain injury, neuromuscular disorders, electromyography testing, orthotics, urodynamics, and equilibrium testing. Currently, Dr. Rao is conducting research with a grant from the National Institute of Health.


New Chapters of United Way Foundation

The United Way movement continues to gain momentum in India with additional local United Ways being established in Bengaluru, Delhi and Hubli-Dharwad in North Karnataka, according to a press release.

Recently, members of the United Way Leadership Council of India, along with friends and family, traveled to these three cities to support, inspire and celebrate the launch of the new United Ways and provide visibility to United Ways in these communities.  The United Way Expansion in India was initiated in 2007 with the objective of expanding United Ways across India beyond Mumbai and Baroda.

United Way is increasing awareness and support amongst non-resident Indians residing in North America and with the North American businesses with interests in India to support regional communities across India and improve the quality of life.  The “India United Way Expansion Fund” was created at United Way International in the U.S. to invite and encourage multinational corporations and non-resident Indians to contribute to the fund and invest in strengthening local communities and improving the lives of the citizens of India.  Investors to this fund include, in alphabetical order, Mrs. and Mr. Desh Deshpande, The Deshpande Foundation; Mr. Hemant Goradia, president, Vinmar International; Mrs. and Mr. Barry Griswell, chairman, The Principal Financial Group; Ms. Sheela Murthy, president, founder and managing attorney, Murthy Law Firm and her spouse, Vasant Nayak; Mrs. and Mr. Sunil Wadhwani, chairman and co-founder, iGate Corporation and others, and companies, The Principal Financial Group, LG Corporation, Cargill, FedEx, Metlife and others.

The three-city launch takes the count of United Ways in the country to five. The oldest United Way in India was established 22 years ago in Baroda, followed by Mumbai, which was established in 2002.


ZEE TV U.S. Territory Head

Subroto Bhattacharya, currently Zee TV territory head – Europe, has been appointed the new territory head – Americas,  looking after the entire area comprising U.S., Canada, Caribbean and Latin America, with immediate effect, according to a Zee TV release.

Subroto is a part of the senior management of the Zee Group and the current head of the european business of the Zee Group, which comprises of various functions in the fields of entertainment and information television business, print business, ground event, radio station and mainstream language channels catering to French-speaking audience in Europe/Africa and Russian speaking audience in Russia, CIS and Europe.

Subroto has been part of the Zee group since 1996 in India looking after advertising sales for the channel. His set up and headed the sales function for the U.S. market in 1998. In less than 6 years he was promoted as the head of Europe and transferred to the U.K. to take charge of that territory. The European operations under his leadership crossed many milestones.

Commenting on this appointment, Bharat Kumar Ranga, COO of international business said, "Bringing Subroto on board for Americas operations has been a conscious and strategic decision to strengthen a very strong leadership team at Zee TV USA. Subroto has a diverse background of sales, strategy, events, new business development and marketing and having worked in key territories like Europe and Americas in the past there could not be any one better than him to fit the role. He has not only driven but built the Europe business in all possible areas whether it is television, radio initiative, events, opening doors for mainstream advertising revenue. Under his current leadership the group has also ventured out in targeting the main stream segment and launched channels like Zee Russia – a channel catering to the Russian speaking population and is gaining momentum in terms of distribution and popularity amongst all the international channels in Russia.”


DIRECTV: UTV Movie Channel

DIRECTV, Inc., the nation's leading satellite TV service provider, and UTV Global Broadcasting, India's leading entertainment company, have signed a multi-year agreement that enables DIRECTV to be the exclusive satellite provider of the UTV Movie Channel.  In early 2009, UTV Movies, now seen only in Asia-Pacific countries, will be available to U.S. audiences for the first time, on DIRECTV's WorldDirect international programming service.

The UTV Movie Channel offers the most comprehensive library of top-rated films from South Asia, with several of India's most popular actors.  The channel's 24-hour programming showcases a variety of blockbuster films such as Jodhaa Akbar, Race, Aamir, Jannat, Life in a Metro and Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal.

The UTV Movie Channel is the only 24-hour premium Hindi movie channel that has a partnership with UTV Motion Pictures, one of the largest Hindi movie studios in India.  UTV Movie Channel draws on the universal passion for Bollywood fare and adds excitement and freshness to the Hindi movie viewing experience.

"DIRECTV is proud to partner with UTV Global Broadcasting to offer the most complete library of the best films available in South Asia and bring them to a U.S. audience," said John de Armas, vice president, WorldDirect, Inc.  "The addition of UTV Movies to DIRECTV's WorldDirect programming packages gives the U.S. Indian community a memorable television experience that is available only on DIRECTV."

"We are pleased to offer our channel to Hindi film fans in the United States through DIRECTV," said Shantonu Aditya, Executive Director, UTV Global Broadcasting Ltd. "The channel has a great mix of films, which people can watch in the comfort of their homes."


Support Romas

Three years into the high-flown "Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005–2015" initiative, Roma people of Europe still reportedly live in apartheid like conditions, according to a press release from a Reno, Nevada-based Hindu priest.

Rajan Zed, acclaimed Hindu and Indo-American statesman, in a statement, said that almost everybody involved in Roma upliftment programs would agree that Roma continued to face deeply embedded institutional discrimination and social exclusion. Concrete steps were immediately needed to improve their plight.

Zed, president of Universal Society of Hinduism, says that in spite of this much publicized "inclusion" initiative involving political commitment by governments of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Slovakia to improve the socio-economic status and social inclusion of Roma, they unfortunately reportedly continue to suffer from human rights violations and brazen structural discrimination.

Zed added that on paper, Roma are fully covered by EU legislation, which prohibits discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin in employment, social protection and education as well as access to goods and services, including housing. But in reality, Roma reportedly regularly face racism, substandard education, hostility, social exclusion, joblessness, rampant illness, inadequate housing, lower life expectancy, unrest, living on desperate margins, language barriers, stereotypes, mistrust, rights violations, discrimination, marginalization, appalling living conditions, prejudice, human rights abuse, racist slogans on Internet, unusually high unemployment rates, etc.

European Union and countries of Europe, instead of just talk and paper drives, should act immediately to end centuries of severe discrimination and abuse of Roma and achieve their social inclusion. It is simply immoral to let this around ten million population of Europe continually suffer and face human rights violations, Rajan Zed says.

Zed points out that effective implementation, firm commitment and strong political will is needed to improve the Roma plight. In the past, policies on paper to tackle Roma discrimination and exclusion had proved very weak to deal with their day-to-day sufferings.


Call for Diversity

Amid a climate of deep cutbacks and consolidations, the Asian American Journalists Association stressed the importance of diversity in today's business climate.

Recently announced layoffs, cutbacks, and bankruptcies by major media companies prompted AAJA officials to urge industry leaders not to roll back the progress made in recent decades in diversifying America's newsrooms, which is essential in ensuring fair and accurate coverage.

"Our nation's demographics underscore the changes ahead, as we become more diverse than ever. As news organizations continue to seek relevance and resonance with readers and work to build new audiences, having a diverse newsroom better positions us to achieve these important goals — it's critical to our industry's success," said Jeanne Mariani-Belding, AAJA's national president.

Mariani-Belding urged industry leaders to consider the value of diversity, adding that the cuts made today will ultimately define the quality and credibility of our content for years to come. "Demand for the news we produce depends on how relevant our coverage is to our audience," she said.

AAJA issued its statement off the news that several major media companies started laying off thousands of employees and the Tribune Company, which owns several news organizations including the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Cubs, announced it has filed for bankruptcy. It is estimated that about 14,000 media industry employees will have been laid off or offered buyouts by the end of this year as the recession deepens.



Click here to read in the CURRENT ISSUE in PDF format

Afghan Treasures:
Asian Art Museum Exhibit

The Asian Art Museum is the only West Coast venue for an exhibit of Afghan artifacts. A Siliconeer report.

Lest We Forget:
A Bombay Diary

People of Bombay gathered in a remarkable public statement of solidarity with the victims of the terror attacks, writes Sapna Shahani.

Home: The New Workplace: Telecommuting in India
The global recession’s pressure on the bottom line has made working from home an attractive alternative for Indian IT companies, writes Priyanka Bhardwaj.

IIFA Awards 2008
A Siliconeer Exclusive Photo Essay

EDITORIAL: Hidden Afghan Treasures
NEWS DIARY: News Briefs
SUBCONTINENT: Bangladesh’s Historic Polls
POLITICS: House of Lords Debate on India
COMMUNITY: Celebrating Bangla Roots
TRIBUTE: Remembering I.K. Shukla
SUBCONTINENT: A Pox on All Politicians!
PHOTO ESSAY: 2008: Year in Review
AUTO REVIEW: 2009 Dodge Journey SXT
RECIPE: Szechuan String Beans
COMMUNITY: Recognition for Service: Dr. Bhupinder Bhandari
COMMUNITY: The Aligarh Spirit
BOLLYWOOD: Film: Slumdog Millionaire
TAMIL CINEMA: Abhiyum Naanum
COMMUNITY: News in Brief
HOROSCOPE: 2009 Yearly Forecast

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