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COMMUNITY | News in Brief: October 2010

Obama Announces Key Administration Posts
NFIA Hosts 16th Biennial Convention in New York
Hinduism Summit
Landmark Parkinson's Study
Hindu Charities for America
Nargis Dutt Foundation: Cancer Aid

Obama Announces Key Administration Posts

U.S. President Barack Obama Sept. 16 announced his intent to appoint several individuals to key administration posts. Among them are:

Farooq Kathwari, Member, President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Sunil Puri, Member, President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Amardeep Singh, Member, President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Dilawar A. Syed, Member, President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Obama said, “Our nation will be well-served by the skill and dedication these men and women bring to their new roles. I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”

Farooq Kathwari is the chairman, president and chief executive officer of Ethan Allen Interiors. He has been president of the company since 1985, and chairman and chief executive officer since 1988. Kathwari serves on many non-for-profit organizations including the chair of the Kashmir Study Group and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He holds a B.A. degree in English literature and political science from Kashmir University, an M.B.A. in International Marketing from New York University, and also holds two honorary doctorate degrees.

Sunil Puri is the president and sole owner of First Rockford Group, Inc., a real estate development firm he founded in 1984. He also sits on a number of boards including the Rockford Area Economic Development Council and the Rockford College Board of Trustees. . Puri holds a B.S. in accounting from Rockford College. He has also pursued graduate work at Rockford College, London Business School, as well as continuing executive courses at Harvard Business School.

Amardeep Singh is the co-founder and presently the director of programs at the Sikh Coalition, the nation's largest Sikh civil rights organization. Prior to joining the Sikh Coalition in 2002, Singh worked as a researcher in the U.S. Program of Human Rights Watch. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the South Asian Bar Association of New York. Singh holds a B.A. from Rutgers University and a J.D. from Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

Dilawar A. Syed is president and CEO of Yonja Media Group, an emerging markets Internet company. Prior to joining Yonja Media, Syed was head of business strategy and operations in the platform division at Yahoo!. Syed was president of a non-profit entrepreneurship organization, OPEN Silicon Valley, and currently serves on the steering committee of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education. Syed holds an M.B.A. from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. from The University of Texas at Austin.

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NFIA Hosts 16th Biennial Convention in New York

National Federation of Indian American Associations celebrated its 16th Biennial Convention and 30th Anniversary Sept. 17-19 at the Crown Plaza LaGuardia Hotel and the World’s Fair Marina Hall in Queens, New York City.

NFIA, the largest umbrella organization of more than 200 associations, representing over 2.7 million Indian Americans hosted its members and guests during a three-day event that included a welcome reception and convention inauguration Sept. 17 at the World’s Fair Marina, Queens, N.Y., followed by a full day of conference at the Crown Plaza LaGuardia Hotel Sept. 18. Dr. Navin Mehta was the Master of Ceremony in the banquet. Lal K Motwani welcomed the audience and President Chandu K. Patel delivered the presidential address.

Chief guest at the inauguration was India’s Deputy Ambassador to the U.S. Arun Kumar Singh who in his inaugural address congratulated NFIA for its work in mobilizing Indian community for the last 30 years. New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli also spoke at the inauguration and complimented the community for its contribution to the United States.

Convention Convener Lal K. Motwani, executive vice president of NFIA, extended a warm welcome to all delegates and guest while NFIA president Chandu K. Patel delivered the presidential address highlighting NFIA’s achievements in the last two years of his term. Dr. Thomas Abraham, founder of the NFIA, conducted the proceedings.

As part of the 16th biennial convention, ten conference sessions were held with 43 speakers and panelists. The conference theme was “Indian Americans Celebrating Success, Overcoming Challenges.” It was put together by NFIA founder president Dr. Thomas Abraham, who also served as conference committee chairman.

The conference started with an opening keynote by Vivek Wadhwa, senior research associate with the Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School. Prof. Jagdish Bhagwati, economist and university professor at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University delivered the keynote address on Emerging U.S.-India Relations.

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Hinduism Summit


Participants at the Hinduism Summit held Aug. 28 in Sunnyvale, Calif.

The first Hinduism Summit or Dharma Sabha in California concluded successfully Aug. 28, according to organizers. The summit was held by the Forum for Hindu Awakening and the Sunnyvale Hindu Temple, with the blessings of Hindu saints worldwide, including Sri Sri Sri Ravishankar, Pande Baba and Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma). It received positive response from the 125 attendees in person and 50 attendees online. The audience consisted of members of Hindu and spiritual organizations like Art of Living Foundation, Path to Anandam, India in Classrooms, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, Ekal Vidyalay and Hindu Charities for America, besides individuals interested in understanding, living, preserving or promoting Hinduism.

The Dharma Sabha in typical Hindu tradition welcomed the attendees by applying vermillion on the forehead and commenced with blowing of the conch shell by the compere, Mrunal Nanivadekar, followed by recitation of Vedic mantras by temple priests and lighting of the auspicious oil lamp by Dharma Sabha speakers. It received support from the Sunnyvale Hindu community, who contributed towards the refreshments, technical support, publicity and other aspects of the Dharma Sabha. These contributions were commemorated in a visual souvenir that illustrated the unique science underlying Hindu practices and highlighted issues such as denigration and persecution of Hindus. The souvenir was published with the Hindu ritual of “prakaashan” at the hands of the main speaker of the Dharma Sabha, Shri. Easan Katir, who is performing and promoting spiritual practice according to Hinduism for the last 30 years in California.

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Landmark Parkinson's Study

The Parkinson’s Institute, in conjunction with El Camino Hospital announced that it is one of 18 official study sites for the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), a landmark observational clinical study sponsored by The Michael J. Fox Foundation, which will use a combination of advanced imaging, biologics sampling and behavioral assessments to identify biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease progression. Enrollment of 20 people with Parkinson’s disease and 10 controls at The Parkinson’s Institute will begin this fall, and continue for approximately two years.

“At the Parkinson’s Institute we have been working for over 23 years to end this disease, but have been hindered by the lack of biological markers for disease progression and diagnosis – by solving this problem, this new initiative could greatly speed up testing of new drugs in clinical trials,” notes J. William Langston, MD, founder and executive director of the institute.

“PPMI holds potential not only to accelerate the development of breakthrough Parkinson’s treatments for the future, but also to improve diagnosis and treatment of today’s generation of PD patients,” said Caroline Tanner, MD, PhD, site principal investigator.

PPMI participants at the Parkinson’s Institute will undergo the neuroimaging component of the study at El Camino Hospital.

Ramesh Gopi, MD, El Camino Hospital's vice chief of radiology and nuclear medicine investigator for the PPMI study at the Parkinson’s Institute, agreed. “It is deeply meaningful to have been selected as a PPMI site,” he said. “This is a significant step toward our objective of becoming a destination for neuroimaging of movement disorders.”

"Parkinson's is a devastating disease, and our goal is to expand our knowledge of it – and of how to beat it – through advanced imaging and research,” said Imtiaz Qureshi, MD, medical director of El Camino's radiology department. “With over $20 million invested in the latest imaging equipment, El Camino Hospital has some of the best imaging technology available, making us perfectly suited to partner with The Parkinson’s Institute on this groundbreaking clinical study."

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Hindu Charities for America


Volunteers at the inaugural event of the Hindu Charities of America

A new idea brewing in Austin, Texas promises to bring together America’s Hindus in charitable action. It is a new not for profit, organization titled Hindu Charities for America.”

The charity’s inaugural event was completed over a two day period Aug. 12-13. The event culminated in a donation drive and volunteer efforts that benefited 230 students in four elementary campuses within the Round Rock Independent School District of the Austin metropolitan area. Over 35 volunteers teamed up with the Round Rock ISD, local businesses and non-profits in assembling backpacks full of school supplies to give to students on the National School Lunch Program. The next day, HC4A volunteers actually participated in handing out the school supplies to individual students.

It must be stressed that this charity is “for America.” It is a unique concept; Indians in the United States have long been sending justifiable aid to India, whether it be through donations for specific projects or remittances. Hindu Charities for America does not seek to replace or supplant such efforts. Rather, the goals are two-fold. First, such an organization can constructively connect Hindu Americans who disagree on the dogmas and practices of Hinduism. A charity in this manner can also bring awareness of Hindus as a charitable group, the first steps towards tolerance and acceptance. By benefiting local American communities and making strides towards a total concerted effort by all American Hindus and their neighbors through charitable action, Hindu Charities for America has struck a unique chord in Indo-American society. — Neal Gundavda

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Nargis Dutt Foundation Cancer Aid

The Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation, a New York- based non-profit organization, held its 29th annual benefit gala Sept. 26 at the Long Island Marriott Hotel.

This year, NDMF committed to fund over $150,000 to the Indore Cancer Foundation Charitable Trust in India. The Indore Cancer Foundation was created in 1988 through the efforts of the late Sunil Dutt and the Dr. Jatin P. Shah of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York. Organizers expressed gratitude to Ravishankar Bhooplapur of Rotary Foundation for financial support for the Indore project.

Over the past 29 years, the New York chapter of the Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation has provided financial support for over 50 projects. Numerous hospitals have received equipment for the detection of cancer and treatment of needy patients. Funding has been provided for the education of medical professionals. Recently, NDMF has also contributed to relief efforts of natural disasters, such as the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka, as well as the horrific earthquake in Haiti in January 2010. This year, NDMF funds are being deployed for the purchase of much needed radiation equipment for the early detection and treatment of underprivileged cancer patients at the Indore Cancer Foundation Charitable Trust.

This year the benefit dinner was attended by Members of Parliament Priya Dutt and Dr. Prabhakar Kore, Dr. Digpal Dharkar of the Indore Cancer Foundation, U. S. Congressman Peter King, Nassau County executive Edward Mangano and Dr. Jatin P. Shah.”

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COVER STORY
Feet of Clay?
China and India

China and India have made impressive strides, but anticipation of future greatness is based largely on myths created by the media and part of academia, writes Pranab Bardhan.


SUBCONTINENT
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The Challenge
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THEATER
Truth Unvarnished:
Sakharam Binder
Vijay Tendulkar’s ‘Sakharam Binder is controversial because it mercilessly skewers Indian moral hypocrisy, writes Ravi Bhatnagar.


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