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COMMUNITY | News in Brief:

Foundation Offers Immediate, ‘Recession Relief’ Scholarships | Congratulations! Class of 2008 | ‘Unforgettable’ Tour to Kickoff in SF | Groundbreaking Hindu Baccalaureate Service | Business Award | Heritage Month | Outstanding Woman | Film Festival | Speaking Tour | Fellowships

Foundation Offers Immediate, ‘Recession Relief’ Scholarships

(Right): Dr. Appu Kuttan with former U.S. President Bill Clinton (r).

Dr. Appu Kuttan, chairman of the National Education Foundation, announced May 10 an expanded nationwide initiative to provide “recession relief” scholarships for its CyberLearning program to a million low and middle income individuals affected by current economic challenges — or those simply wanting to excel further in the workplace.

The One Million Scholarships Program offers subsidized high quality Web-based courses (includes 30 certifications) in IT, business, test-prep, K-12 math, science and technology education. The curriculum packages, each containing 100-400 courses and valued individually at $400-$800, are fully subsidized by the foundation scholarships.  The user pays a nominal registration fee of $25 for any course package. The foundation courses provide new or improved skills or prep for certifications in Microsoft, Cisco, Adobe, CompTia, Oracle, Office Applications, networking, programming, web design, project management, etc. The course catalog containing 3,000 courses grouped into 30+ course packages can be viewed at www.nefusa.org/courses

“Fear of recession is forcing individuals, especially those at low and middle incomes, small businesses and others, to cut back on training, which is normally expensive. At the same time, the U.S. Labor Department is predicting a shortage of two million IT workers by 2010. An obvious solution is to make job skills training affordable to our low and middle income individuals. That is the rationale for this important initiative,” noted Dr. Kuttan, a worldwide leader in bridging the digital divide.

“With tough economic times upon us, the timing could not be better,” noted Dr. Kuttan.  The courses are available immediately, and expire on June 30, 2008.

To apply for these “recession relief” scholarships and begin learning, visit www.nefusa.org/scholarships


Congratulations! Class of 2008

(Top): Neil Gupta, one of the grads (2nd from l) seen with his family. Out of 153 students who graduated here, 45 were of Indian origin. (Bottom): Doves were released in the air after the diplomas were awarded.

It was an unseasonably cold and windy morning on May 24, when the Class of 2008 was set free to  meet the world and find their way to serve the community.

On the lush green lawns of The Harker School, Davis Field, San Jose, it was a colorful array of joy all around with flowers, balloons, a hearty smile on everyone’s face, since someone close to their heart was going to be seen on the stage to receive the ticket to enter the free world.

Over 150 students graduated of which about 43 were of Indian origin.

In a keynote speech, the first woman District Attorney, Santa Clara County, Dolores A. Carr elaborated the three things to remember this graduation day:

First, acknowledge and thank whoever is your inspiration; second, give back to your community; and third, make the most of your opportunities.

“No one helped me get this job. I got it on my own,” is not the true and correct picture of who you are. Don’t forget the immense help you get from your parents, teachers, classmates, other key people in your life who help you shape up your future. Thank them. She further says, “you can’t always get what you want,” the message is loud and clear, “hard work has never killed anyone,” Carr said.

Jennifer Gargano and Samuel E. Keller, Jr., released two white pigeons, and thereafter a series of them, in to the air after the diplomas were awarded, symbolizing the release of students to the free world.

Siliconeer welcomes all graduates to their new environment and wishes them all the success through life in all tasks they take up.

Your journey starts now!


Unforgettable’ Tour to Kickoff in SF

Wizcraft International Entertainment, the international promoters of the ‘The Unforgettable Tour,’ a Bollywood star-studded entertainment show joined local Bay Area promoters of the event, Singh Entertainment at a press briefing May 19 in Sunnyvale, Calif.

The San Francisco show will mark the beginning of the tour in U.S.

‘The Unforgettable Tour’ show features the Bachchan trio — Amitabh, Abhishek and Aishwarya, along with Preity Zinta, Riteish Deshmukh, Vishal and Shekhar, and Madhuri Dixit.

Local Bay Area promoter Paul Singh of Singh Entertainment expects a full house of 14,000 at the Oracle Oakland Arena on July 27, considering the high volume of Bollywood buffs here.

Speaking about a special message from Big B, Ajay Rao of Wizcraft said, “It is a green agenda — global warming and mobilizing the public awareness on how to control it.” “Another good thing about the show is that the stars will interact with the audience directly for about three hours without any interruption,” Rao said.

“This will be a one-of-a-kind show with state-of-the-art lighting and accoustics to enhance the performances,” said Gagan Singh, co-organizer for the SF Bay Area show. “The tickets are up for sale online at www.ticketmaster.com and at the Oracle Arena box office. Tickets are also available at major Indian outlets in Bay Area, and online at www.sulekha.com.” added co-organizer Bikramjeet Singh.

To become a sponsor of this event, readers can contact Ashok Gupta at (510) 604-6414.

Siliconeer is an official supporter of the event.


Groundbreaking Hindu Baccalaureate Service

(Above): At the Hindu baccalaureate service (l-r): Swami Pooja, Rabbi Elizabeth Beyer, Reverend Bruce Taylor, Rajan Zed, Imam Abdul Barghouthi, Commissioner Robert Larkin, Reverend Rhys Andrews, Reverend Phil Bryan and Swami Prapannananda. [Roger B. Weld photo]

Hindu spiritual leader Rajan Zed recently organized a Hindu Baccalaureate Service at a complete with Gayatri Mantra, tilak over the foreheads of graduates, and lamp lighting in front of statue of goddess Saraswati.

The First Annual Hindu Baccalaureate Service of University of Nevada-Reno, titled as Dikshant Utsav, was started by Zed with Gayatri Mantra, the most sacred verse from Rig-Veda, and included recitation from Bhagavad-Gita by doctoral student Subhashree Misra; blessing the upcoming graduates by Hindu monk from California Swami Prapannananda with wisdom from Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita.

Organized by Zed in collaboration with the Indian Student Organization of UNR, it also comprised of Bahai prayer in Persian by Roya Galata, Christian prayer/blessing by Reverend Dr. Bruce Taylor, Jewish prayer in Hebrew by Rabbi Elizabeth W. Beyer, Buddhist prayer in Pali by Reverend Phil Bryan, and Islamic prayer in Arabic by Imam Abdul Rahim Barghouthi. Zed ended the service with “Asato ma sad gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrityor mamrtam gamaya,” which he then translated into English as “Lead me from the unreal to the real, lead me from darkness to light, Lead me from death to immortality.”

Special certificates were given to graduates on the occasion, which gave parting advice as satyam vada (speak the truth), dharma chara (practice righteousness), matrudevo bhava (treat your mother with great respect), pitrudevo bhava (treat your father with great respect), etc. Various other religious and spiritual leaders, including Swami Pooja, David Mitchell, Rhys Andrews, Robert Petrovich, etc., also attended the event. Sanjeev Dey, a doctoral candidate in chemistry who attended the service with his wife Suchitra Datta (also a doctoral candidate in chemistry), said that it was a memorable evening of his life.


Business Award

(Right): Shan Nair

Dr. Shan Nair was announced as the recipient of the 2008 Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business Award, presented by the Asian American Business Development Center.

The awards honor Asian American entrepreneurs and executives with great achievements in business nationwide. In honor of the recipients, an awards dinner was held May 28 at The Waldof-Astoria in New York City. The 2008 awards recognize achievements from 2007 and is the first and largest business award program for the Asian American business community.

 “All this year’s award recipients have faced the challenges of running a business head-on with outstanding success. Asian Americans are a successful group of individuals and this is why our organization wants to recognize the talent among the community,” says John Wang, president of AABDC.

Nair, co-founder of Nair & Co is an Oxford University-trained Ph.D. nuclear physicist and charter member of TiE-Boston and has a unique background in high technology, software and accounting. Nair has lived in 13 countries in South East Asia, Europe and the Middle East becoming multi-lingual in the process and placing him in an excellent position to understand international issues. When the Chernobyl accident occurred, he was one of the two U.K. technical experts assisting the European Commission on its post-accident risk assessment.

Once the U.K. power generation industry was privatized in the early 1990s, he retrained as an accountant within the industry and left to found Nair and Co. He introduced and trained U.K. legal practices in the Law Society’ Practice Management Standards.


Heritage Month

(Right): Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif.

Congressman Michael Honda, D-Calif., chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus,  released the following statement May 1 in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, which takes place May of each year:

“Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a time for us to take pride in the diversity of our nation, celebrate the contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islanders to this nation, and reaffirm our commit to the promise of America’s future for all Americans.

“From the time of first settlement, AAPIs have experienced dual currents of discrimination and assimilation.

“Rather than withdraw, grow embittered, or be cowed by discrimination, the AAPI community has embraced and actively participated in American society. In addition to the tireless commitment of many AAPI families, individual AAPIs have distinguished themselves for their service and vision.

“This list of notables includes Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianole, who in 1903 became the first Native Hawai’ian and Pacific Islander to serve in Congress; Dalip Singh Saund, who in 1956 became the first Asian American elected to Congress; Hiram Leong Fong, who in 1959 became the first AAPI member of the United States Senate; and Patsy Mink, who forty-three years ago became the first Asian American woman elected to the Congress. “Today this legacy continues. Under the Clinton Administration, Secretary Norman Mineta became the first AAPI appointed to a cabinet-level position. Congresswoman Mazie Hirono of Hawai’i joined our CAPAC ranks last year. On the gubernatorial front, former governor of Washington State, Gary Locke, the first AAPI elected as governor on the mainland, commands national attention. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal followed suit last year, when he was elected as the first person of Indian descent to serve as governor of a state, and the first minority governor of Louisiana since Reconstruction.


Outstanding Woman

ASPIRE — Asian Sisters Participating In Reaching Excellence —  announced Mihiri Tillakaratne as the grand prize winner of the 1st Annual ASPIRE Outstanding Woman of the Year Award. ASPIRE’s Outstanding Woman of the Year award, which celebrates female high school or college students of Asian American descent, was formally awarded at the 2008 ASPIRE Asian American Women in Leadership Conference April 26 at Emerson Hall at Harvard University.

This year’s keynote speakers included SuChin Pak, correspondent, MTV News and Kyung Yoon, vice chairman, Heidrick & Struggles.

Tillakaratne is the founder and executive director of Empower a Village, a nonprofit organization that works to uplift the lives of villagers in rural Sri Lanka with breast cancer awareness workshops, mobile eye clinics and English and computer literacy programs. During her summers, she visits Sri Lankan villages with volunteer American and urban Sri Lankan students to implement these programs. In 2006, Tillakaratne was awarded with a scholarship from L’Oreal Paris as a part of Teen People’s feature 20 Teens Who Will Change the World 2006. Based in Los Angeles, Tillakaratne is currently attending Harvard University obtaining a degree in history with a focus on international relations.

“ASPIRE provides a wonderful support system for young Asian American women,” said Tillakaratne. “It is an organization that understands how to foster the potential of future leaders who will make positive changes in the world. I am honored to be included with a group of nine remarkable Asian American women whose leadership and commitment to their communities are truly inspiring.”

As the Grand Prize Winner, Tillakaratne received an all- expense paid trip to Boston to attend the AAWIL Conference where she received the award from ASPIRE’s high-profile keynote speaker, the opportunity to spend a day with an Asian American female mentor of her choice from ASPIRE’s network, and a featured profile in Audrey magazine, with the chance to tell her story to Asian American women everywhere.


Film Festival

The Chinatown Film Festival, 2008 New York Edition, announces the call for entries for feature length, documentary, short subject, experimental project and animation films. Submission forms can be downloaded online at the official Chinatown Film Festival website www.chinatownfilmfestival.org. The 2008 Chinatown Film Festival will be held October 2008 with screenings in Chinatown, New York.

Submissions for the Chinatown Film Festival 2008 were accepted starting May 1st 2008.

July 15 (postmark) is the official last day for all submissions deadline. Entry fees for all submissions is $35.00

The late submission deadline is Aug. 29 (delivered and received by Chinatown Film Festival Office, be aware your movie may be not included in the official selection). Entry fee for late submissions is $75.00

Entry fees are non-refundable.

Entry movies should not be ever screened in the U.S., and they should be Asian (produced, directed and filmed in Asia).

The festival will accept movies from China (including Hong Kong), Singapore, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Mongolia, Viet-Nam, Cambodia and Thailand.

Movies should be in the original language with English (and possibly simplified Chinese) subtitles.

Questions about submissions can be emailed at : submissions@cff2008.org

The Chinatown Film Festival is a non - profit organization whose main focus is to unite the Asian culture with its Western counterpart.


Speaking Tour

Bruce Feffer, senior attorney at the law firm of Bruce Feffer & Associates, LLC, has announced the launch of a speaking tour providing legal information and assistance to Asian American business and real estate professionals.

Feffer, an attorney for 25 years, serves an extensive Asian American clientele as well as overseas clients in Hong Kong, China, and Europe. The law firm of Bruce Feffer & Associates is engaged primarily in the areas of real estate and business law.

“The community of Asian-American business and real estate professionals is rapidly growing and along with that trend comes an increasing demand for legal information,” said Feffer. “In celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I felt this is the right time to launch this speaking tour.”

For over 25 years, Feffer has represented clients in a wide variety of businesses, including garment manufacturing, construction, restaurants, food distribution, property management, real estate development, personnel and human resources, public relations, not-for-profit organizations, and many more.

“Bruce Feffer has been our company lawyer for several years and has helped us with contracts, leases, litigation, and real estate matters. He has always provided trustworthy and professional service,” said Terry Tang, vice president of Twin Marquis, Inc. and TMI Trading, well-known makers of Asian noodles and other food products.

Bruce Feffer is an experienced speaker and teacher on legal issues. He has lectured extensively for Lorman Seminars and the Learning Annex. He is certified by the New York Department of State as a real estate instructor. He also serves on the Law-Related Education Committee of the New York County Lawyers Association.



Asian Pacific Americans are underrepresented in U.S. international affairs despite the many contributions they have made. To help increase diversity in this growing field, the Institute for International Public Policy, a fellowship of the UNCF Special Programs Corporation, prepares Asian Pacific Americans and other college students of color for a wide range of international careers.

“These are enormously challenging and exciting times in international affairs and public policy,” says Darryl Crompton, IIPP Director. “The contributions that Asian Pacific Americans make are crucial because diversity in the international arena is imperative.”

Valued at almost $100,000, the IIPP fellowship, now entering its 14th year, is the hallmark of UNCFSP. Nearly 300 minority students have been placed in over 50 countries. Applying during the spring of their sophomore years in college, IIPP Fellows later study global issues through a well-structured curriculum. Currently, 16 percent of IIPP program participants are Asian Pacific American.

During the beginning of the SARS epidemic in 2003, IIPP Fellow Ruby Marcelo, a Filipina American, traveled to China to study abroad. Marcelo remembers seeing the first student attend class in a hospital mask. More students donned these protective masks until nearly everyone on campus wore one.

IIPP Fellow Kuong Ly was seven when his family left a Cambodian refugee camp as survivors of Pol Pot-a brutal regime responsible for more than two million deaths. Recently recognized as a 2007 Truman Scholar, Ly, who is Southeast Asian, will soon celebrate his graduation from Boston College. His career plans are to champion refugee rights, particularly those of women. “When you look at refugee camps, 80 percent are women and children,” Ly says. “The men are simply killed.”

Visit www.UNCFSP.org/IIPP for more information about the IIPP Fellowship Program.



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Free Binayak Sen:
Global Support for a Rights Activist

A pediatrician and internationally acclaimed rights activist in Chhattisgarh is languishing in jail without trial, writes Ranjitha Moorthy.

Straw Bale Homes:

A relief group says homes made from compressed straw bales can be a much safer alternative for earthquake ravaged parts of Pakistan, writes Ras H. Siddiqui.

Smithsonian’s Exquisite Exhibit of Mughal Art
The Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C., has brought together 86 jewel-like masterpieces of Mughal art. A Siliconeer report.

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EDITORIAL: A Prisoner of Conscience
AWARD: Intel Whiz Kids
SUBCONTINENT: A Monopoly on Violence
SUBCONTINENT: The Climate Challenge
GEOPOLITICS: The Barbarity of Aerial Bombing
HISTORY: ‘Komagata Maru’
PERFORMANCE: Srikanto Acharya
DIARY: From Ghana with Love
AWARD: Naranji Patel Honored
CINEMA: L.A. Film Festival
SPORTS: Sania Mirza to Play in San Francisco Bay Area
AUTO REVIEW: 2008 Toyota Avalon
TRAVEL: A Trip to Asia - The Cathay Experience
FESTIVAL: Berkeley Food Fest
CINEMA: ‘Blind Ambition’
BOLLYWOOD: Film Review: Bhoothnath
TAMIL CINEMA: Yaradi Nee Mohini
COMMUNITY: News in Brief
BUSINESS: News Briefs
RECIPE: Pasta Delight

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