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COMMUNITY | News Briefs

President Obama Honors Top Scientists and Innovators
GOPIO: Seeking Relief on Penalties
Hindi Diwas
Harvard Senior Wins Award
Helping Generations

President Obama Honors Top Scientists and Innovators

President Obama today named seven eminent researchers as recipients of the National Medal of Science and five inventors as recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest honors bestowed by the United States government on scientists, engineers, and inventors. The recipients will receive their awards at a White House ceremony later this year.

“Each of these extraordinary scientists, engineers, and inventors is guided by a passion for innovation, a fearlessness even as they explore the very frontiers of human knowledge, and a desire to make the world a better place,” President Obama said. “Their ingenuity inspires us all to reach higher and try harder, no matter how difficult the challenges we face.”

The National Medal of Science was created by statute in 1959 and is administered for the White House by the National Science Foundation. Awarded annually, the Medal recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering. Nominees are selected by a committee of Presidential appointees based on their extraordinary knowledge in and contributions to chemistry, engineering, computing, mathematics, and the biological, behavioral/social, and physical sciences.

The National Medal of Technology and Innovation was created by statute in 1980 and is administered for the White House by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Patent and Trademark Office. The award recognizes those who have made lasting contributions to America’s competitiveness and quality of life and helped strengthen the Nation’s technological workforce. Nominees are selected by a distinguished independent committee representing the private and public sectors.

This year’s National Medal of Science recipients included Jacqueline K. Barton of California Institute of Technology, Ralph L. Brinster of University of Pennsylvania, Shu Chien of  University of California, San Diego, Rudolf Jaenisch of Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Peter J. Stang of University of Utah, Richard A. Tapia of Rice University, and Srinivasa S.R. Varadhan of New York University.

Varadhan was recognized for his work in probability theory, especially his work on large deviations from expected random behavior, which has revolutionized this field of study during the second half of the twentieth century and become a cornerstone of both pure and applied probability.  The mathematical insights he developed have been applied in diverse fields including quantum field theory, population dynamics, finance, econometrics, and traffic engineering.

The National Medal of Technology and Innovation went to two Indian Americans, Rakesh Agrawal of Purdue University, for an extraordinary record of innovations in improving the energy efficiency and reducing the cost of gas liquefaction and separation. These innovations have had significant positive impacts on electronic device manufacturing, liquefied gas production, and the supply of industrial gases for diverse industries; and B. Jayant Baliga of North Carolina State University, for development and commercialization of the Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor and other power semiconductor devices that are extensively used in transportation, lighting, medicine, defense, and renewable energy generation systems.

Other awardees included C. Donald Bateman of Honeywell, Yvonne C. Brill of RCA Astro Electronics (Retired), and Michael F. Tompsett of TheraManager.


GOPIO: Seeking Relief on Penalties

Inder Singh with Congressman Howard Berman

GOPIO chairman Inder Singh met with Congressman Howard Berman to solicit his help for relief on penalties under Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) and Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (OVDI) schemes.

According to a press release, Singh informed Congressman Berman that the letters sent to U.S. President and IRS Commissioner did not receive any positive response from the commissioner. Copies of both letters were provided to Congressman Berman.

Inder Singh sought help from Congressman Berman on the following issues:

The current limit to report about someone having a foreign bank account is $10,000. The limit of $10,000 was fixed several years ago, and if cost of living index is applied, that amount could be as high as $50,000. He urged raising the limit to $25,000; 

Waive the penalties if the money has been sent for supporting parents or members of the extended family and is less than $25,000;

Waive the penalties for the inheritance or the money in the foreign banks prior to migrating to the United States;

Exempt the temporary workers, such as H1B and L1 visa holders as they did not know anything about the U.S. tax laws.

That even if a penalty were to be imposed, it should be on the income rather than the highest balance from 2003 to 2010. Some people have sent money for buying property, for investment or children’s education. Once the money has been invested, the balance left is small. IRS should not charge penalty on the highest balance. After all, it was not money laundering but genuine transfer of money.

Congressman Berman assured he would look into various situations and extend help.


Hindi Diwas

 Newly-appointed Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao speaking on the occasion of Hindi Diwas.

The Embassy hosted a special event to celebrate Hindi Diwas, Sept. 14. The evening was well attended. Hindi teachers and students from several institutions engaged in the teaching and learning of the Hindi language in Washington DC area, Hindi poets and writers, office bearers and members of the International Hindi Association and Indian-American community leaders were present.

In her opening remarks in Hindi, Ambassador Nirupama Rao conveyed felicitations on the occasion and described Hindi Diwas as an important date in India’s national calendar. She stressed the importance of use of Hindi as India’s official language and the promotion of all Indian languages through literature, theater and cinema as part of the larger effort to promote India’s rich and diverse cultural heritage. Ambassador Rao congratulated the individuals and institutions who are actively engaged in teaching of Hindi in the United States.

The event also included presentations by invited Hindi experts, poetry reading in Hindi by poets based in Washington DC region and recitation of Hindi poems by a group of school students.


Harvard Senior Wins Award

Beauty, talent, and brains reign supreme for Isha H. Jain, who made Glamour Magazine’s list of “Top 10 College Women” for her lifelong work in the biological fields and involvement in Harvard’s National Symposium for the Advancement of Women in Science. Jain was prompted to enter the competition by her pre-frosh host at MIT, who was also a winner of the award. Jain said her interest in science was sparked by role model and Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn, whose articles inspired Jain as a seventh grader.

After her application was considered based on a variety of qualifications including merit, leadership, and service, Jain underwent a long interview process last spring.  Jain was on campus with her mother when she receiving the call with the good news.

“I dance a lot, make jewelry, and play soccer. I was excited about the award because it shows young girls that science can be glamorous and not just a dorky field with big glasses and a lab coat,” Jain said.


Helping Generations

An online learning resource is re-teaching natives of India their languages and culture by offering online courses on language, music, dance, and arts and crafts.

Indian Lessons was founded by Narsimha Mogiloji for Non-resident Indians to learn their native culture and hand it down to the next generation.

A Non-resident Indian (NRI) is an Indian citizen who has migrated to another country, a person of Indian origin who is born outside India, or a person of Indian origin who resides permanently outside India.

Indians migrate for several reasons, for better work opportunities, higher education and to see more of the world.

Across the globe, NRI children no longer learn their native languages, or culture. As each new generation becomes ever more isolated from its past, its ancestral culture slips farther out of reach, at risk of not surviving the change.

“Through this unique approach, Indian Lessons collaborates with indigenous teachers around the world, including India, to bring specifically designed easy-to-learn lessons to NRI families,” Mogiloji said. “This helps them revitalize Indian languages, dance, music and culture so that they may be handed down through the generations.”

Mogiloji says NRIs should utilize this online resource because of the convenience and technological tools it offers to those who want to learn more about their native culture: “We are the one and only portal to offer all these lessons at one place, and live online to NRIs.”

Indian Lessons makes it easy for students to sign up for an online and live virtual class where students can participate through webcam and chat. “This face-to-face interaction provides the intimacy, immediacy and effectiveness of a real classroom environment, while enabling the students to learn from the comfort of their own home or office,” Mogiloji said.

Indian Lessons features highly qualified teachers with past experience in their respective fields, including performances at All India Radio, Doordarshan TV and also senior fellows of Ministry of Culture, a branch of the Indian government.

Each one specializes in a specific Indian language, dances like Bharatanatyam or musical instrument like Sarod, for instance.

Interested readers can get more information via email at indianlessons@gmail.com.



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