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COMMUNITY | News in Brief: March 2010

Ash Kalra Joins Bay Area Air Quality Panel | Bay Area Doctor and Research Scholar Receive 'Bharat Gaurav' | SUNY Professor to be Honored for Service | Raises $250K | Unfair Visa Quotas | Pak Pageant | Sponsors J Camp | New Look

Ash Kalra Joins Bay Area Air Quality Panel

Ash Kalra

Councilmember Ash Kalra was sworn in  Jan. 6 to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District board of directors. Kalra was selected to be one of four representatives for Santa Clara County by the Santa Clara County Cities Association Nov. 12, 2009. Kalra is San Jose’s lone voice on the board.  Councilmember is the first Indian-American to be appointed to this influential Board. The San Jose City Council District is home to the Metcalf Power Plant, the county’s top polluter. Upon learning of his selection for the board, Kalra said, "As someone who cares profoundly about the improvement of our environment, it is deeply satisfying to have the opportunity to work with leaders throughout the Bay Area on the critical issue of air quality."

Kalra earned his seat in the Nov. 4, 2008 election. He represents Council District 2, which is located in the southern region of San Jose bordering Morgan Hill. He sits on the Community & Economic Development Committee, Association of Bay Area Governments Board, Federated Employees Retirement Board, and Santa Clara Valley Habitat Plan Liaison Group. He is also a liaison to the Planning Commission, where he previously served for over two years prior to taking office. He also serves on the Valley Transportation Authority Board for which he is a representative on the Caltrain and Capitol Corridor Boards.

Kalra earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a law degree from Georgetown University. For 11 years, Ash Kalra worked as an attorney for the Santa Clara County Public Defender's Office representing indigent clients in drug court prior to being elected.

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Bay Area Doctor and Research Scholar Receive 'Bharat Gaurav'


Seen during a prayer ceremony at the Fremont Hindu Temple reception Feb. 23 are (l-r): Atul Tandon, Ashok Gupta and Dr. Shobha Tandon. [Siliconeer photo]

The India International Friendship Society  presented Dr. Shobha  and Atul Tandon with the “Bharat Gaurav” award this year, welcoming them to a elite group of distinguished community leaders like Mother Teresa, former Vice President of India Dr. B.D. Jatti, cricketer Sunil Gavaskar, star performers Shammi Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna and Dev Anand, to name a few.

India International Friendship Society was established in the late 1990s to forge greater unity and integrity among people of Indian origin worldwide and presents its globally reputed "Bharat Gaurav" awards to select leaders in the global community of people of Indian origin.

Atul Tandon, Ph.D., president, NeoBiomarkers, Inc., is a well known research scholar in bio-chemistry and has done extensive research in immunology and breast cancer. Educated at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, he has also served as assistant professor of Medical Oncology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Dr. Shobha Tandon, MD, Ph.D., is a graduate from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She completed her residency training at the Stanford University as chief resident in ophthalmology and specializes in Lasik surgery. She runs two eye clinics in Mountain View and Union City, Calif.

“A family friend of ours for over 15 years, I had the opportunity of working in close proximity with them when Shobha started her practice. She is a living symbol of service with a smile," commented Ashok Gupta, president, SIliconeer, at a reception hosted to honor the achievements of Dr. Shobha and Atul Tandon at the Fremont Temple, Feb. 23.

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SUNY Professor to be Honored for Service

Ashok Kumar Malhotra

Ashok Kumar Malhotra, professor of philosophy at the State University of New York at Oneonta, will be honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award by the University of Hawaii Alumni Association.

The award, instituted in 1987, identifies outstanding former students who have used their university education for excelling professionally, providing inspirational leadership to others, and helping the community.

“I feel very much honored by the announcement,” Malhotra said. “With this I am more indebted to America.”

A master’s degree holder from the University of Rajasthan, Malhotra has done charitable work in India, including setting up of three schools in the desert state and two in neighboring Gujarat for the underprivileged.

“I’ve always helped my friends and colleagues, even in my early years when I was growing up in Punjab and later studying in Rajasthan. By helping others, one always enjoys and I have a strong belief in that,” the professor remarked.

He arrived in the U.S. in 1963 at the East-West Center in Hawaii and earned his doctorate from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1969.

In 1996 Malhotra established a charitable body in honor of his late wife Nina, the Ninash Foundation, for serving members of the Indian-American community as well as helping people in his motherland. In the U.S., the foundation distributes awards to students in music and drama while back home it works towards eradicating illiteracy.

“Building schools for the purpose of teaching the poorest of the poor is my objective,” he noted. “In India if one follows the principle of ‘each one teach one,’ illiteracy can be wiped out in a decade.”

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Raises $250K

Ravi Sangisetty

Ravi Sangisetty, Democratic candidate for Congress in Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District, announced Feb. 16 that his campaign put together over $250,000 by the Dec. 31, 2009 year‐end reporting deadline.

Sangisetty has far exceeded expectations in his first run for political office, raising more funds than any other candidate in the race. 

Moreover, the majority of his support comes from local donors in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, the largest parishes in the district, signaling that he will be a formidable candidate in both the primary and general elections.

Ravi Sangisetty is a first-generation Indian American.   His parents are both practicing physicians in the district and have been so for nearly thirty years.   Sangisetty is a graduate of Princeton University and Louisiana State University Law School.  He also served as a federal law clerk for Judge Stanwood R. Duval, Jr. of the U.S. District Court in New Orleans. He currently practices business law with the firm of Duval, Funderburk, Sundbery, & Lovell in Houma, Louisiana.

“When we began this campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives, we knew that this was going to be a hard-fought campaign from both sides of the aisle,” Sangisetty said. “Our message of honest, independent leadership has resonated with the voters of this district who are fed up with the spending of the federal government and unproductive partisan politics. The voters know that the politics of the past aren’t going to create jobs for our communities.  We’re running this campaign to put the needs of this district ahead of everything else, and fight as an independent voice for South Louisiana. People are excited for a new generation of leadership in coastal Louisiana and our fundraising successes so far are clearly showing this.”

As of Dec. 31, 2009, Sangisetty for Congress has put together over $250,000. In the final quarter of 2009, the campaign received $117,806, with over $225,000 cash on hand at the close of the reporting period.  More information is a available at  www.raviforcongress.com.

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Unfair Visa Quotas

The U.S. immigration system’s arbitrary quotas on employment-based visas may be harming the nation’s employers and economy by preventing visas from being issued to highly skilled workers from densely populated countries, according to a former Department of Homeland Security official.

Prakash Khatri, the first person to serve as Immigration Ombudsman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (2003-2008), says current immigration law unfairly limits to 2,800 the number of visas available to any single nationality group in each of three categories of skilled and highly skilled professional workers. 

“Under this formula, the maximum number of visas allotted to nationals of China and India — each with a population of over one billion citizens — is the same as that for nationals from smaller states, such as Nauru with a population of 10,000 or even the Vatican, which has a population of only 800 citizens,” says Khatri. “This system is discriminatory and is preventing some of the world’s best and brightest talent from immigrating to the United States because of the population size of their country of origin. This is bad for U.S. employers and bad for the nation as a whole.”

Khatri says recently released data from USCIS and the U.S. Department of State indicate the extent of this problem, especially as it affects immigrants from India and China, may be far more serious than previously known. The data suggest that USCIS field offices may have many more pending cases than the agency has previously acknowledged.  If true, the estimated number of years to process the employment-based visa applications for immigrants from India and China could rise dramatically. Currently, highly skilled immigrants from India – may have to wait as long as 35 years to get a green card.

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Pak Pageant


Tahmena Bokhari

Tahmena Bokhari became the fourth woman to be crowned Mrs. Pakistan World when she gained the 2010 crown in Toronto, Canada. The pageant is focused on finding role models for representing married women of Pakistan.

Bokhari, a college professor, social worker, consultant to governments and organizations, public speaker and writer, is passionate about diversity, ending violence against women, health (particularly cancer) and issues surrounding immigrants and settlement, according to a statement from pageant officials.

Organizers said Bokhari plans to use the Mrs. Pakistan World platform to raise larger awareness for the issues she has already spent years working on, as well as to take on the role of a spokesperson for Pakistani women balancing family, community, career and hobbies.

"I hope to inspire men and women to participate in creating positive energy in the home and in the community and to live holistically balanced and happy lives," she said.

Sonia Ahmed, president of Mrs. Pakistan World, said that the pageant for married women is a step forward for Pakistan in the pageant industry. She added that she hoped Bokhari will represent Pakistan in international pageants that can take the country forward in the pageant world.

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Sponsors J Camp

The Asian American Journalists Association announced Loyola Marymount University's sponsorship of J Camp, a multicultural high-school journalism workshop. Forty-two high school students from across the country will be selected to participate in the five-day program hosted by the university in Los Angeles, California from July 30-Aug. 4.

This year will mark the tenth anniversary of the program, which started in 2001. Since then, a total of 377 of the nation's brightest young people have graduated from J Camp, which has the goal of developing the next generation of journalists. The workshop brings together a diverse group of high school students from all racial and ethnic backgrounds to sharpen their journalism skills and work together in a unique learning environment.  The curriculum consists of hands-on training with leading professional journalists, lectures from some of the industry's biggest stars, and reporting field trips.

"Loyola Marymount University is honored to have the AAJA J Camp on campus this summer," said Celeste Durant, director of communications and media relations for LMU. "Training the next generation of journalists becomes increasingly important as communications change. We are excited to be a part of this camp and the students' future as journalists."

Angie Lau, anchor at Bloomberg's Chicago Bureau and program co-director said, "We are thrilled to bring AAJA's J Camp to Loyola Marymount University.  Every year, we choose a new group of J Camp students to be taught and inspired by some of the top media professionals in the country.  This year, LMU is the perfect academic environment to do just that. J Camp has found a wonderful partner in LMU and we are grateful.  It is especially poignant for J Camp this year as we celebrate our 10th anniversary.  We can't think of a better spot in Los Angeles, nor find a finer academic partner that can help us nurture the next generation of journalists."

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New Look

The Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance will unveil their new logo at the Asian Professional Exchange “Empower OC” networking mixer.  Established in 1997, OCAPICA has been meeting the needs of Asian and Pacific Islander communities in the areas of health, mental health, youth development and leadership, policy, and education.

A new decade has inspired OCAPICA to unveil a new agency logo, reflecting the growth and development of the agency.  Over the last ten years, OCAPICA has grown from a small $50,000 operating budget to one that is over $3 million  and has expanded its services to Asian and Pacific Islander communities across Southern California and nationwide. The new logo is of a banyan tree enclosed within a circle.  This new symbol represents unity, hope and promise, as well as a circle of life in which the agency is able to give back to the community.  Mary Anne Foo, OCAPICA’s Executive Director, states, “The new banyan tree logo provides a visual representation of the nontraditional way in which we have come together to strengthen our communities.  Like the banyan tree, our communities continue to work in unity - spreading our roots and becoming stronger together.”

As OCAPICA unveils this new look and feel with the banyan tree logo, OCAPICA will continue to provide its reliable services and programs in cancer prevention programs, children’s health programs, mental health case management and clinical services for youth, student support and scholarship programs, after-school tutoring and mentoring, college and career preparation, voter mobilization, census and redistricting outreach, and job development. 

To learn more about OCAPICA, visit www.ocapica.org.

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Click here to read the Current Issue in PDF Format

COVER STORY
Be Counted!
U.S. Census 2010

It is imperative that all members of the Indian community participate in the forthcoming 2010 U.S. Census, writes Inder Singh.


SUBCONTINENT
Picking the Pieces: After the Pune Attacks
The recent terror strike in brought a rude reminder of the role of indigenous terror groups and in orchestrating militant strikes in India, writes Siddharth Srivastava.


IMMIGRATION
Making Your Case:
U.S. Visitor's Visa

To avoid the frustration of being denied a visitor’s visa to the United States, an applicant needs to be honest and prepare meticulous documentation, writes attorney Mahesh Bajoria.


OTHER STORIES
EDITORIAL: Be Counted!
U.S. Census

NEWS DIARY: February
REMEMBRANCE: Remembering Ekushey
SPORTS: Battleground Cricket
RECIPE: Hot and Sour Soup
SUBCONTINENT: Curb on China
REAL ESTATE: Strategic Default
SUBCONTINENT: The Kidnapping Menace
TRAVEL: Deutsches Museum
AUTO REVIEW: 2010 Ford Fusion SEL
BOLLYWOOD: Film Review: My Name is Khan
BOLLYWOOD: Guftugu
TAMIL FILM: Theeratha Vilaiyattu Pillai
BUSINESS: News in Brief
COMMUNITY: News Briefs
INFOTECH INDIA: Tech Briefs
HOROSCOPE: March


ENTERTAINMENT
2009 IIFA Awards, Macau
A Siliconeer Exclusive Photo Essay



ENTERTAINMENT
81st Annual Academy Awards
A Siliconeer Exclusive Photo Essay



ENTERTAINMENT
IIFA Awards 2008
A Siliconeer Exclusive Photo Essay



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