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COMMUNITY | News in Brief: April 2010

Multicultural Film Set in Durban Wins Awards | ISKCON Plans State-of-the Art Temple in Silicon Valley | Lufthansa Cricket Craze | Nirupama in U.S. | Minister Visits | Sri Yagam | Medical Grant | Obama Greets

Multicultural Film Set in Durban Wins Awards

Priyanshu Chatterjee and Smita Jayakar (r). [Surendra Prakash photo]

Multicultural film Florida Road, set and shot entirely in Durban, South Africa and centered around a South Africa-based Indian, is drawing critical acclaim in the festival circuit, according to a press release from the film’s producers.

Accepted in as many as 11 international film festivals including festivals in Los Angeles; Beaufort, S.C.; Swansea, Wales; Worcester, England; and Phuket, Thailand, the film has won the Best Screenplay award at the Treasure Coast International Film Festival in Florida, Grand Prize Filmmaker’s Award at the Durango Independent Film Festival in Colorado and was a finalist for Best Picture at Beaufort.

Starring a host of Bollywood actors including Ashmit Patel, Vipin Sharma, Smita Jayakar an Priyanshu Chatterjee, the film is directed by Brad Glass, written by Fred Fontana and produced by Fontana and Glass.

Florida Road was shot entirely on location in Durban, South Africa, and marks Brad Glass’ directorial debut and the culmination of a 10-year dream to get this movie made. Glass has worked as an actor all over the world including Spain, Italy and Australia.

This is producer/writer Fred Fontana’s first film outside the United States. Fontana has been involved in many Hollywood films including The Specialist and The Next Karate Kid.

The title of the film is derived from the main boulevard that runs through the center of Durban.


ISKCON Plans State-of-the Art Temple in Silicon Valley

(From r) Sri Radha, Sri Madan-Mohan, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu [Jorge Bardina photo]

ISKCON of Silicon Valley was started in a suburb of San Jose by a small group of devotees who moved from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1998.

Temple president Vaisesika Dasa has a vision of building a state of the art ISKCON Hare Krishna Temple in Silicon Valley. He has recently been appointed as zonal secretary for ISKCON in Northern California.

“ISV devotees work together to organically grow a home base for our Lord and His devotees,” he said.

“My vision for the new temple, our new home base, is: a welcoming environment comfortable for hearing, chanting and meditation; a base from which we feel strong to fight with maya, illusion; secure and safe; a meeting place that attracts new people; a place for education, learning, high culture; a spiritual center; open to the public; and the heart of Bay Area sankirtan.”

Dasa said he envisages a variety of ways to raise funds for the temple.

“Most of the funds we have now have come from members and patrons who like the atmosphere at ISV and would like to see it expand and succeed in the Valley. We have held several fund raisers, selling tickets for dance and musical events also,” he said. “We invite anyone who thinks that this is a worthwhile project to help out in any way that they feel they can.”

Under Dasa’s leadership, ISV's book distribution program will help raise part of the funds.

“In fact, out of dozens of North American ISKCON temples in the United States, Mexico and Canada, ISV ranks #3 in volume of books sold,” he said..

He said the new temple will benefit the residents of San Jose and neighboring towns. “The new ISV temple will benefit the residents of San Jose by bringing the rich culture of Vedic India, including Yoga, meditation, Ayurvedic medicine, vegetarian cooking, philosophy, music and drama -- into their midst,” he said.

Web site: http://www.virtualtemple.org/

- Girish Parikh


Lufthansa Cricket Craze

For millions of cricket fans in the U.S., March Madness has arrived with two back-to-back, action-packed Twenty20 tournaments. In just its third year, IPL has already become one of the biggest sporting events in the world, featuring eight franchises. A thrilling cocktail of action-packed cricket enticingly blended with Bollywood entertainment.

Later, action will be shifted to a world stage, with all top cricketing nations assembling in the West Indies for the ICC World Twenty20, 2010. Team India is determined to reclaim the trophy they won in the tournament’s inaugural year when Misbah-ul-Haq scooped the ball to Sreesanth in the last over.

German carrier Lufthansa is joining in the cricket frenzy with an online program.

“Lufthansa, the number one European carrier to India, shares your enthusiasm for the exciting games and is inviting you to celebrate this year's cricket championships by joining the Lufthansa Cricket Craze,” the airline said in a press release. “Cricket enthusiasts are invited to log on to lufthansa.com/cricket to participate in fantasy cricket tournaments and other exciting games for their chance to win round-trip tickets to India, signed cricket memorabilia and so much more!”

Lufthansa has in recent years demonstrated its commitment to the Indian American community by featuring aspects of the Indian way of life in its different promotions. Last seasons’ Lufthansa Movie Nights and Lufthansa Wedding are two examples.

“Have you always thought you could pick a better team than franchise owners like Shah Rukh Khan, Vijay Mallya and Shilpa Shetty? Then Lufthansa Fantasy Tournaments are just for you,” the release added. “ Play Lufthansa Fantasy IPL 2010 now and test your skills as a fantasy team owner in one of the hottest sporting properties in the world. If your team ranks number one, you will be the lucky winner of round-trip tickets to India!”


Nirupama in U.S.

Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao (l) seen here with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir.

Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao visited Washington D.C. March 15-to co-chair the 7th meeting of the India-U.S. High Technology Cooperation Group. This was the first meeting of the High Technology Cooperation Group, a component of the India U.S. Strategic Dialogue, with the new U.S. Administration.

During the state visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Washington in November 2010, he and U.S. President Barack Obama "agreed that strengthening high technology trade between their countries is in the spirit of their strategic dialogue and partnership. They reiterated their shared commitment to technology security and that it is in their mutual interest to invigorate this area of their partnership."

During the two days of deliberations between industry representatives of both countries followed by the government-level meetings to consider the recommendations of the industry — on promotion of high technology trade between India and the U.S. , the two sides were able to consolidate the progress made in the last five years and identified the next steps for further expanding high technology trade between India and the U.S. - especially in the areas of defense and strategic trade, biotechnology and nanotechnology. They also agreed to create new groups for focused attention on cooperation in health IT and civil aviation.

During her visit to Washington, Rao had a series of bilateral meetings with U.S. officials.

On March 15, Rao met Michelle Flournoy, Under Secretary for Policy in the Department of Defense.

On March 16, Rao met her counterpart, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dropped in and joined the discussions. Rao also met the National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones, Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Robert Hormats and Under Secretary of State for Democracy Global Affairs Maria Otero.


Minister Visits

Indian Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel visited Washington, D.C. March 25.

During the visit, Patel met with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, and Federal Aviation Administrator Randy Babbitt.

In the meetings, both sides acknowledged the positive role of aviation in improving connectivity between the two countries, since the signing of the Open Skies Agreement in 2005. The civil aviation sector has emerged as the fastest growing component of bilateral trade, accounting for about 15 percent of U.S. exports to India. Locke as well as LaHood told Patel that U.S. companies were very impressed with the growth displayed by India's aviation sector and were keen to contribute to the growth. Patel said that these companies needed to show a long-term commitment beyond just exporting to India; they should seriously explore the possibility of establishing manufacturing bases and investing in aviation infrastructure like airports. He also urged Locke to explore the possibility of liberalizing the export controls regime for India.

Patel invited both the Secretaries to visit India to see for themselves the numerous opportunities that India offered for mutually beneficial partnerships in general and in aviation, in particular.

Minister Patel also addressed a luncheon round table at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce where a large number of the major U.S. companies engaged in aviation-related activities were present.


Sri Yagam

Cranbury, N.J.-based Jeeyar Asramam is hosting a nine-day-long “Viswa Santhi Sri Yagam”

July 23-Aug. 1, which it bills as “a unique event for world peace and prosperity.”

“The Sri Yagam will be performed under the aegis of H.H. Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swamiji,” it said in a promotional brochure. 108 Ruthwicks (Vedic scholars) will be performing the mass prayer. This is an open invitation to all peacemongers who would like to flourish in their material and spiritual life. All are cordially invited.”

The nine-day event will have 33 altars (kundas) for homa which represent 27 constellations, 4 Vedas and two Lakshmi Narayana.

Daily program includes Sri Yagam, Nakshathra Homam, one Ishti Homam of the day, discourses by Swamiji and others, and purnahuthi in the morning, and Sri Yagam and purnahuthi, discourses by Swamiji and others and cultural program in the afternoon.

The event is hosted under the auspices of the Jeeyar Educational Trust. More information at www.jetusa.org


Medical Grant

Binaytara Foundation has announced the recipient of BTF medical research grant 2009 in a press release. A research project titled “Efficacy of initial resuscitation in patients presenting as ATS-2 in emergency units” by Bibhusan Basnet of BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Dharan, Nepal, has been selected for the grant.

“We would also like to thank the many students who applied for the grants,” the foundation said in an announcement.

Each year BTF awards research grants to medical students to encourage them to understand and learn the practice of evidence-based medicine early in their medical career. The scientific advisory committee members review the research proposals, and after detailed peer review for scientific merit and relevance of the proposed study, research grant awardees are selected. Researchers are required to conduct the supported project within the stipulated time frame from the date of the award and, as a condition of the grant, furnish project reports at regular intervals.

Binaytara Foundation is an Illinois non-profit organization. The mission of the foundation is to bring social revolution by promoting health and education. Since its inception in 2007, BTF has awarded four research grants to medical students and provided several scholarships to underprivileged schoolchildren.


Obama Greets

U.S. President Barack Obama greeted Bangladeshi Americans on occasion of Bangladesh’s Independence Day March 26. “I join the American people in sending my best wishes to those, abroad and here at home, that are celebrating Bangladesh Independence Day,” Obama said in an announcement. “39 years ago, the people of Bangladesh earned their independence, and since then, our two nations have shared a commitment to democratic values and created an enduring friendship. Here at home, those Americans that can trace their roots to Bangladesh continue to be active in all industries, and are an important part of our communities. On this Independence Day, I wish them all the best.”



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