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COMMUNITY NEWS BRIEFS: February

Silicon Valley Tycoon Wadhwani Sets up India Chair
S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley Stresses Deep Budget Cuts
Indian Visa Info
Obama Greets Indian Americans on Republic Day
Sikh Rights
CINTAC Appointment for Vijay Sazawal
NY Taxi Workers Protest
Federal Diversity Plan

Silicon Valley Tycoon Wadhwani Sets up India Chair

Romesh Wadhwani

Silicon Valley information technology entrepreneur Romesh Wadhwani, CEO of Symphony Technology Group in Palo Alto, Calif., has established an India Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies — a leading Washington, D.C., think tank — that will be occupied by Karl F. Inderfurth, erstwhile Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs in the Clinton Administration.

The chair, called the Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies — which will be funded by the Wadhwani Foundation, founded by Wadhwani and his wife Kathleen — will replace the South Asia Program at CSIS, which was headed since its inception in 1998 by former veteran diplomat Teresita Schaffer, who has left CSIS to do independent consulting.

Former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., who then chaired the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee and is now the chairman of the CSIS Board of Trustees, said, "The newly established chair will pioneer policies that expand political and economic ties with India. As a close U.S.-India relationship is in both countries' interest, the chair's work will be vitally important."

John Hamre, CSIS president and CEO, said, "The US-India relationship is one of America's most strategically important partnerships of the 21st century. Dr. Wadhwani's generosity, and Karl Inderfurth's work as the Wadhwani Chair, will contribute to critical policymaking efforts to build a secure and sustainable future for the relationship."

Wadhwani, whose Symphony Technology Group is a group of nine software and service companies with combined revenue of over $2.5 billion and 15,000 employees, and who also serves on the CSIS Board of Trustees, said, "The importance of the strategic partnership between the U.S. and India and the changing dynamic in both countries requires us to take policy thought leadership to the next level."

"The Wadhwani Chair at CSIS is intended to be the fulcrum for this and to develop creative new options for top policy makers in both countries to accelerate economic development," he said. "We are delighted to have a person with the stature of Karl Inderfurth as the first holder of the Wadhwani Chair."

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Nikki Haley Stresses Deep Budget Cuts

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley

In her State of the State address, S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley told lawmakers she needs their help to balance the state budget, improve education and recruit more jobs to the state, offering to help defend tough budget-cutting decisions.

A week into her first term, Haley suggested $20 million in budget cuts, and health care cuts that could save an additional $100 million at the expense of doctors and hospitals.

Haley's speech outlined several options to deal with the state's $829 million budget shortfall for its fiscal year that starts July 1. They included:

Reduce what the state pays doctors and hospitals to treat patients in Medicaid, the state-run health care program for the poor and disabled. A 1 percentage-point cut could save an estimated $10 million, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Haley did not specify how much lawmakers should cut rates. However, former governor Mark Sanford proposed cuts of up to $100 million.

Eliminate state funding of ETV and the state Arts Commission, saving a combined $11.8 million.

Savings in prison and parole operations, $6 million.

Eliminate state-funded lobbyists, saving an estimated $1.2 million.

Require generic drugs for cancer, HIV/AIDS and mental health treatment of Medicaid patients. That could save $991,000, a state Health and Human Services spokesman said.

Haley's speech also was notable for what was not mentioned: school choice or tax credits to attend private schools, and Haley's campaign promises to cut business taxes, require an ID to vote and toughen anti-illegal immigration laws.

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Indian Visa Info

The Consulate General of India in San Francisco has said in a press release that it is in the process of systematizing the processing and clearance of visa applications.

The release added: “This is to bring to the notice of all those U.S. citizens of Indian origin who are awaiting processing/approval of their visa applications and who entered USA as children or as spouse of a principal immigrant, to check the Consulate website to ascertain the status of their visa processing, 45 days after the date of receipt of their application in the Consulate from Travisa.

The applicants are advised to ensure that all supporting documentation is complete while submitting their applications.”

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Obama Greets Indian Americans on Republic Day

U.S. President Barack Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama has greeted Indians on  occasion of India Republic Day. In a message, he said:  “On behalf of the American people, I send my best wishes to the people of India and to those here in the United States and around the world who are celebrating India Republic Day.  Michelle and I were honored to visit India in November as India marked the 60th year of its democratic constitution. As I said then, the United States and India are not only the world's two largest democracies, we are two pluralistic societies that believe in the potential and dignity of every human being.

“These are the beliefs that inspire the nearly three million Americans who can trace their roots to India – and all of whom enrich our society. And they are the beliefs that have led Prime Minister Singh and I to make the U.S-India relationship one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century. As we go forward together, the enduring lessons of this Republic Day can inspire us to seek a future of greater prosperity and opportunity for both our peoples.”

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Sikh Rights

More than two years after Trilochan Singh Oberoi — a Sikh American job applicant — won a religious discrimination case against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris are opposing the civil and economic rights of California Sikh Americans to work as state corrections officers, rights activists say.

After a two-day trial in 2008, the California State Personnel Board’s Appeal Division determined that Oberoi, who keeps a religiously-mandated beard, suffered unlawful workplace discrimination at the CDCR.  SPB determined that officials at CDCR failed to explore reasonable accommodations for Oberoi, as required by law, even though beard exemptions were allowed for individuals with medical needs, and despite the fact that Sikh Americans serve in the United States Army in compliance with safety requirements.

The newly sworn-in California Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris are backing CDCR, which has failed to comply with the SPB ruling.   “The state’s decision to not just tolerate but to support this violation of civil rights is troubling.  If Sikh Americans can serve their country in the U.S. Army, then there is no reason that Mr. Oberoi’s case places an undue burden on CDCR,” said Veena Dubal, staff attorney at the Asian Law Caucus.

In response, civil rights groups, including the Sikh Coalition, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and the Asian Law Caucus have started a campaign to create awareness about Oberoi’s case.  More than a dozen state and national advocacy organizations have also signed letters of concern about the case to Brown and Harris.

“Governor Brown and Attorney General Harris should stand on the side of civil rights,” said Rajdeep Singh, director of law and policy at the Sikh Coalition.  “When the California Governor and Attorney General support discrimination at a state agency, this empowers private employers to discriminate with impunity.  We call upon Governor Brown and Attorney General Harris  to restore the rights of Mr. Oberoi and open the doors of equal opportunity to all who wish to work as public servants in California, regardless of religion.”

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CINTAC Appointment for Vijay Sazawal

Vijay Sazawal

Srinagar-born Dr Vijay Sazawal, 64, of Bethesda, Md., who has over 35 years of professional experience in the nuclear industry covering the entire fuel cycle, has been appointed by United States Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke to serve on the Civil Nuclear Trade Advisory Committee for a period of two years.

In a letter to Sazawal, appointing him to CINTAC, Locke said the Committee "will advise me on trade issues facing the U.S. civil nuclear industry for use by me and other Department of Commerce officials in our roles as members of the Civil Nuclear Trade Working Group of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee."

"CINTAC will provide consensus advice on the development and administration of programs and policies to expand U.S. civil nuclear exports and strengthen the competitiveness of the industry," Locke noted in his missive to Sazawal.

Sazawal, currently director of government programs at USEC, Inc, a leading supplier of enriched uranium fuel for commercial nuclear power plants worldwide, said, "I am thankful to Secretary Locke for selecting me to join CINTAC," and spoke of his more than three decades of experience in the industry where "I have participated in the U.S. civilian and defense nuclear programs covering the entire nuclear fuel cycle, and an array of reactor designs that have included conventional and space based reactors, and black programs."

Sazawal said, "This appointment is a logical culmination of my efforts in the last few years to help U.S. exports in civil nuclear trade to India and other major markets in the world."

Prior to joining USEC, Sazawal worked at COGEMA Inc, now Areva NC, for seven years as vice president of engineering and technology. Sazawal, who came to the US in 1970, completed his doctoral degree in structural mechanics from the Michigan Technological University in 1975, and joined Westinghouse Electric Corporation.

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NY Taxi Workers Protest

Bhairavi Desai, executive director, New York Taxi Workers Alliance, union of 15,000 yellow cab drivers, has lambasted New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to turn liveries into taxis.

“We are stunned by the Mayor's proposal to turn liveries into taxis in the outer boroughs,” she said in an announcement. “Legalizing an illegal activity because it's been done for so long will immediately cut into fares, especially during the rush hours when yellow cab drivers who live in the outer boroughs pick up fares at the beginning or end of their shifts.  And as liveries bring more riders into Manhattan, what guarantee do we have that the city will stop the illegal activities in Manhattan or the airports?”

The present record is no cause for confidence, she said.

“Already, the city has turned a blind eye on such activity throughout Manhattan and the airports which cuts deep into taxi driver incomes,” she complained.  “This is a slippery slope with long-term implications.  Meanwhile, yellow cab drivers pay between $130 - $190 per shift before they can break even.  EVERY fare counts.   Already, there is increased competition as more taxis are being leased out during this recession with record high number of license holders.  Nothing has been done to bring down the costs on drivers, namely the lease, or change the unfair 5% cut on credit card fares or the impact of the 50 cent MTA tax which many still wrongly think goes to the driver and not the state.”

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Federal Diversity Plan

The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Interagency Working Group (IWG) has released the first set of agency plans to increase Asian American and Pacific Islanders access to the federal government.

"The agency plans are part of the administration’s commitment to assure that all Americans have a seat at the table,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who serves as Initiative co-chair with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke. “We have an extraordinary opportunity to break down barriers and address challenges that the AAPI community has faced for decades as a result of the model minority myth.”

“From health disparities and language access to data disaggregation and bullying/harassment, AAPIs have unique needs that the federal government will make every effort to address,” said Locke.

Executive Order 13515 mandates that agencies develop plans to increase access to and participation in federal programs in which AAPIs remain underserved. Twenty-three participating agencies developed agency plans over a four-month period with input from numerous offices within each agency, AAPI community groups and the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs. Each plan details the agency’s strategic activities and performance outcomes for the next one to two years.

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Click here to read the Current Issue in PDF Format

COVER STORY
India Honors Diaspora: Pravasi Bharatiya Divas
Siliconeer
president Ashok Gupta joined 2,000 expatriate Indians to celebrate the 2011 Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in New Delhi.


BOOKS
Cancer Chronicler:
Siddhartha Mukherjee
New York-based oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee has written a chronicle of the dread disease cancer that is drawing rave reviews.
A Siliconeer report.


CONCERT
Peace through Music:
Unity Jam 2011
Abraham’s Vision and the Samina and Salman Global Wellness Initiative’s “Unity Jam 2011” concert drew a diverse crowd at a music jam that promoted kinship between people of all faiths, writes Ras H. Siddiqui.


OTHER STORIES
EDITORIAL: Pravasi Divas
NEWS DIARY: January
SUBCONTINENT: India's Indigenous Fighter Jet
PHOTO ESSAY: India's Republic Day Celebrations: Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, CA
PHOTO ESSAY: Glimpes of India's 62nd Republic Day Parade in New Delhi
SURVEY: BBC Global Poll: India Pakistan Issues
SUBCONTINENT: Scrapping Big Bills
AUTO REVIEW: 2011 Acura MDX
RECIPE: Veggie Thai Crunch Salad
BOLLYWOOD Film Review: Dhobi Ghat
BOLLYWOOD: Guftugu
TAMIL CINEMA: Review: Kavalan
COMMUNITY: News in Brief
INFOTECH INDIA: Tech Briefs
BUSINESS: News Briefs
HOROSCOPE: February

ASK THE EXPERTS - Advertorials
New Health Care Law: What's in it for Small Business?
New Health Care Law: What's in it for Seniors?
New Health Care Law: How Does It Help People Without Insurance, Jobs, Papers?
New Health Care Law: How It Impacts Children

SPORTS
2010 Commonweatlth Games
New Delhi - Photos




ENTERTAINMENT
IIFA Awards 2010: SRI LANKA: JUNE 2010



ENTERTAINMENT
IIFA Awards 2008
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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