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COMMUNITY | News in Brief: December 2009

Jaya TV Debuts on DISH Network | Memorable Event Honors Sir Syed | USAID Administrator | Diwali at San Jose City Hall | CRY America: Let’s Dream | Awards Banquet | Fort Hood Tragedy | Citizenship Day

Jaya TV Debuts on DISH Network

DISH Network, a subsidiary of DISH Network Corporation, has introduced Jaya TV, a top-rated Tamil channel from India. The channel is available exclusively to DISH Network customers in the U.S., according to a company press release.

“The addition of Jaya TV brings a unique channel that not only strengthens our South Indian channel lineup, but also offers more value to our customers,” said Chris Kuelling, vice president of international programming for DISH Network. “We are committed to providing the most diverse and exclusive international programming options in the United States.”

“Jaya TV offers programs created keeping the global Tamil audience in mind,” said Sundaram Ranganathan, CEO of Jaya TV Network. “With the addition of the U.S. market, Jaya TV continues to move forward in its quest to provide Tamilians worldwide with the best of their culture’s programming.”

Jaya TV, available on DISH Network Ch. 792, carries Jack Pot, Makkal Arangam and Thaka Thimi Tha, some of its most popular programs. The entertainment channel also features special hosts Khushbu, Mr. Visu and S.P. Balasubramaniam, some of the best known faces from the South Indian film and music world.

Jaya TV is available to DISH Network customers for $24.99 per month as part of the Tamil Mega Pack, which includes three Tamil channels, or for $9.99 per month as an a la carte option.

DISH Network offers more than 170 international channels in more than 28 languages – more than any other pay-TV provider.


Memorable Event Honors Sir Syed

Participants at the annual Sir Syed Day 2009 hosted at the India Community Center in Milpitas, Calif., hosted by the Aligarh Muslim University Alumni Association of Northern California.

The annual Sir Syed Day 2009 gathering in the San Francisco Bay Area once again brought together south-Asian Alumni of this esteemed university and a rainbow of enthusiasts of the Urdu language at the India Community Center in the city of Milpitas Nov. 14. This two part educational and literary gala to keep the legacy of a great man alive also highlighted efforts of the Aligarh Muslim University Alumni Association of Northern California in raising funds to support disadvantaged students at AMU.

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898 ), the founder of the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College which became a full-fledged university in 1920, defied the odds of his time and was able to provide an avenue for  Indian Muslims to get a scientific-modern education at a time when the community was shunning progressive ideas. 

Keynote Speaker Dr. Aslam Abdullah explained how Sir Syed’s efforts started when the Muslims of India were at their lowest self-defeating point.  Modern scientific education was negated by the religious leadership of the time to the point when they defined the poor Muslim conditions post 1857 as a divine scheme to be accepted. “Sir Syed challenged that view,” said Dr. Abdullah. “He did not want to build an ordinary university,” said Dr. Abdullah.  “Today, we need to re-awaken that dream,” he said.

Later, the president of the mushaira, Michigan resident Dr. Munibur Rahman, who has a masters in history (1942) and Persian (1944) from Aligarh, moved us all. The pain of old age, the parting of his beloved wife, visiting a relative with Alzheimer’s disease, was eloquently highlighted. Maan gayay  sahib! (We  knew that we were in the presence of excellence).

Several people were moved to tears with his nazm Guftugu” (Conversation) written in memory of his late wife. Down to her chabi ka guccha (key ring) a stark reminder of her, we found out what true love was.  Rahman is one fine example of some of the people who graduated from and taught at Aligarh.

This was possibly one of the finest evenings that the local AMUAA has put together in the past decade or so. Mehfil ka mahol bahot khoobsoorti say ban giya. (The environment of the event came to a beautiful medium naturally). Bahot khoob!

Readers can reach MUAA at http://www.amualumni.org/

Ras Hafiz Siddiqui


USAID Administrator

Rajiv Shah

U.S. President Barack Obama Nov. 10 nominated Dr. Rajiv Shah as administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.

“The mission of USAID is to advance America’s interests by strengthening our relationships abroad,” Obama said.   “Rajiv brings fresh ideas and the dedication and impressive background necessary to help guide USAID as it works to achieve this important goal. . . . I look forward to working with Rajiv in the months and years ahead.”

Shah served as under secretary for research, education and economics and chief scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  He managed the Agricultural Research Service, the Economic Research Service, the National Agricultural Statistical Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.  He was responsible for managing more than 10,000 staff worldwide including 2,200 federal scientists and a budget of more than $2.6 billion.  He also led the department’s participation in Obama’s global food security initiative. 

In his tenure at USDA, Shah launched the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a new scientific institute created to elevate and enhance the capacity of agricultural research to address sustainable food production, climate change, bioenergy and human nutrition. 

Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Shah served as the director for agricultural development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  He is a co-founder of Health Systems Analytics and Project IMPACT for South Asian Americans.  In addition, he has served as a policy aide in the British Parliament and worked at the World Health Organization.  Shah earned his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and his Master of Science in health economics at the Wharton School of Business.  He has attended the London School of Economics, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.


Diwali at San Jose City Hall

San Jose City Council Member (top right) addresses attendees at the first ever Diwali celebration hosted at San Jose City Hall.

Councilmember Ash Kalra Oct. 27 hosted City of San Jose’s first ever Diwali Event at San Jose City Hall, according to a press release. Over 200 people came together to celebrate this cultural and religious holiday. Kalra was joined by Mayor Chuck Reed, Vice-Mayor Chirco, Councilmembers Campos, Chu, Herrera, Liccardo, Nguyen, Oliverio, and Pyle at the event to show their support for this cultural celebration.

The event was made possible through the contributions of the following sponsors: Athidhi Indian Cuisine, Bay Area Hot Breads, Biryani Bowl, Clairvoyant Infotech, Dosa Place and Bawarchi, Federated of Indo American of Northern California, Hindu American Foundation, Indian Federated Credit Union, Peacock Restaurant, and State Bank of India. The non-profits, Shankara Eye Foundation, South Asian Heart Center, the Indian Community Center, Narika and the Hindu American Foundation, took this opportunity offer vital resources to the community.

Proud to be the first-ever host of Diwali at City Hall Councilmember Ash Kalra stated,  “It was such an amazing experience to see so many people come out to celebrate Diwali in our beautiful rotunda in the middle of a weekday.  I am so thankful to all of the people who came together to make this historic event possible.”

Ajay Bhutoria, an attendee,  said: "Once again after the flag hoisting ceremony in Aug. 9, I must say that councilmember Ash Kalra has now established a new and exciting tradition of celebrating Diwali at city hall. This is trendsetting and is an example for other cities to follow. The program turned out to be excellent, was enjoyable, and well attended.”


CRY America: Let’s Dream

CRY America president Shefali Sunderlal (l) with Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar at the launching of “Let’s Dream a Little Dream Together.”

Let’s Dream a Little Dream Together” is the title of the booklet published by CRY America. Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar unveiled this fusion of dreams and visions for children at a press conference held at the Taj Lounge in New York Nov. 17. 

The booklet is an expression of hope and optimism by people from all walks of life to see a just and better world for millions of children who are denied their basic rights to a childhood.  

CRY America’s vision of a just world for children is guided by the collective conviction and action of over 10,000 donors, 500 volunteers and 41 supported Projects. This conviction was further strengthened by individuals who expressed their dream and view of children’s rights through our “My Vision for Children Campaign,” a new initiative launched this year by CRY America, a non-profit organization working for children’s rights in India and U.S. 

The campaign culminated in the “Let’s Dream a Little Dream Together” booklet that showcases the winners across the various categories. Children, teenagers, adults shared their dream for a better world through paintings, essays, poems, songs, films and photographs. Entries ranged from the issue of right to education, to child labor, disability rights, female infanticide and poverty.  

At the conference organized by CRY America, actor Shabana Azmi said that “millions of underprivileged children have their survival threatened on a daily basis due to malnutrition, illiteracy, child labor, preventable diseases, abuse and exploitation. I believe that each one of us can and should make a difference by joining with CRY America to build a world where every child can expect justice, and enjoy a happy and healthy childhood.”

Javed Akhtar, a poet, lyricist and scriptwriter from India, shared his vision at the event for children and recited a poem “Mumbai Tere Bachche” (Mumbai, your children), describing the trials and tribulations of street children in Mumbai city in India.

CRY America president Shefali Sunderlal said, “No matter how difficult or long the journey, if each one of us believes in doing what's right, then all children will have their right to live, learn, grow, play.” 


Awards Banquet

Dr. George John, one of seven honorees at the 2009 Awards Banquet hosted by the Indian American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center.

The Indian American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center (www.keralacenter.net) honored seven Indian American Malayalees for their outstanding achievements in their field of specialization or for their service to the society. The awardees were honored at Kerala Center's annual banquet Nov. 14 at the Kerala Center in Elmont, NY.

The chief guest was Ambassador Manjeev Singh Puri, Deputy Permanent Representative of India to the UN. The keynote address was delivered by Prof. T.V. Paul, James McGill Professor of international relations in the department of political science and director of the Center for International Peace and Security Studies at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. Prof. Paul spoke on the topic “Is India’s Peaceful Rise Possible?” According to Prof. Paul, the rise of India as a great power along with China is expected to take place before the middle of this century. As its power capabilities especially in the military and economic arenas increase, India is expected to claim a stake in the global power hierarchy. Will this claim be peaceful or violent?

This year’s awardees were: Councilman Thomas Abraham – Political Involvement; Ram M. Cheerath – Public Service; Dr. George John – Applied Sciences; Dr. Krishna Kishore – Journalism; Shaji Kumar, MD – Medicine; Sunil Kumar – Entrepreneurship; and Dr. T.V. Paul – Arts and Letters.


Fort Hood Tragedy

Members of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations expressed deepest condolences to the families and friends of those killed and wounded in the acts of violence at Fort Hood, Texas, Nov 15 that left 13 dead, 31 wounded, and communities around the country in shock and grief.

In a statement, the group said:

“People of all faiths and backgrounds are united in concern and sympathy for the victims and their families, and for the community at Fort Hood.  We urge community members to explore how they can provide support and resources to address the impact of the violence.

“The suspect has been identified as Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan.   As facts emerge, we expect law enforcement agencies to conduct a vigorous investigation in order to seek justice for the victims. 

“Regrettably, in the past, the actions of one individual from a particular ethnic background or religious faith have led to the scapegoating of entire communities based on actual or perceived ethnicity, religion, and national origin.  We call on political leaders, the media, and the public to set a tone of unity as the investigation unfolds and the healing process begins.  We also urge community members to contact local law enforcement and community-based organizations for assistance and information in the event of possible backlash. 

“As our country moves forward, the NCSO shares our condolences and commits to participating in our collective healing process.”


Citizenship Day

In a collaborative effort to increase access to naturalization resources for the South Asian community, South Asian Americans Leading Together joined forces with five local Asian American organizations to coordinate a Citizenship Day Nov. 14. During this event, community members were able to attend a panel with speakers from Baltimore U.S. Citizenship Immigration Services, the Governor's Commission on Asian Pacific Island Affairs, and the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center. Community members had an opportunity to meet with attorneys answered questions and guide individuals through the citizenship process. Interpretation was provided for South Asian community members who have limited English proficiency.

South Asians make up the second largest Asian population in Montgomery County, Md., accounting for over one-fourth of the total Asian population. Within the South Asian community, there are specific barriers—cultural and systematic—that often hinder people from applying for citizenship. These barriers include the lack of available naturalization information in South Asian languages, inadequate communication between government and South Asian immigrant communities, the high cost of applications, and large backlog of citizenship applications.

"It is important that South Asians have access to information about the naturalization process, especially as it has changed in the recent past," says Deepa Iyer, executive director of South Asian Americans Leading Together.  "Citizenship Day is a great opportunity for South Asian immigrants to learn about the process and speak directly with lawyers about their applications."



Click here to read the Current Issue in PDF Format

Toxic Legacy:
Bhopal Disaster

A 1984 industrial disaster has killed over 20,000 people in Bhopal. Activists are determined not to allow the plight of victims to be brushed aside. A report by Anu Mandavilli.

Hopes and Challenges

In a symposium headlined by Bangladesh’s UN envoy, Berkeley academics highlighted challenges of contemporary Bangladesh. A Siliconeer report.

Trucking to School:
DIL Gala 2009

The SF chapter of DIL, which teaches close to 16,000 students in Pakistan, held a fundraiser, writes Ras H. Siddiqui.

EDITORIAL: Bhopal, 25 Years
NEWS DIARY: November
U.S.-INDIA TIES: Manmohan Singh in U.S.
SUBCONTINENT: The Maoist Challenge
RECIPE: Navratan Korma
REAL ESTATE: Short Sales: Myths, Reality
SUBCONTINENT: Battling Corruption
TRAVEL: Ski Apache, New Mexico
AUTO REVIEW: 2010 Toyota Prius
BOLLYWOOD: Film Review: Tum Mile
TAMIL FILM: Pazhasiraaja
EVENT: India Rising: AIF Gala
COMMUNITY: News Briefs

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