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A General Interest Monthly Magazine for South Asians in the U.S.

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COMMUNITY | News Briefs

Ambassador Bids Farewell
South Asian Students at Harvard Launch New Web Site
FDA Fellowship
Free School Supplies
DVD Release: Florida Road
Temple Construction
Dadi Parivar Meets
Government Failing to Meet the Needs of Multicultural Homebuyers

Ambassador Bids Farewell

(Above): Indian Ambassador Meera Shankar (l) at a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Ambassador Meera Shankar completed her assignment as Ambassador of India to the United States on July 31.

The U.S. Department of State hosted a reception to bid her farewell on July 26, which was attended by senior members of the U.S. Administration and other key Ambassadors. Ambassador Meera Shankar also called on the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her office. The Secretary of State said, “On behalf of the American people and the Obama Administration, I extend my best wishes to you as your celebrated tenure as the ambassador of India comes to an end. I thank you for your service and remain deeply grateful to you for helping to strengthen the important partnership between our two countries.”

Ambassador Shankar hosted two receptions on July 25 and on July 28 for the Indian American community and her American interlocutors respectively. The Indian American community was represented by all the leading associations in the Greater Washington Area and from across the country.

The reception on July 28 was attended by over 200 guests.

Ambassador Shankar thanked the guests for all their support and cooperation in advancing the India-U.S. Strategic Partnership.Recollecting the contributions of friends from all walks of life - political, diplomatic, cultural, literary, business, academic and others, Ambassador Shankar said that every step had added to the further strengthening of the relationship and expressed her gratitude for all their encouragement and support.

Under Secretary Hormats said that representing India in the United States is a challenging task and that Ambassador Shankar had been very successful in doing so not only with all branches of the government but also with the Congress and Senate, the business community, think tanks and the media. She traveled extensively across the United States and projected India even to those who had very little knowledge of the country and its achievements, in a very clear, positive and convincing manner.

The ambassador was also presented with a flag of the United States of America, which was flown over the Capitol building specially for her in recognition of her achievements as Ambassador of India to the United States, along with a certificate confirming this by the Congress.


South Asian Students at Harvard Launch New Web Site

The website iPintoo.com was launched on Aug. 9 at the Harvard University Science Center. The website is developed by two South Asian students at Harvard in just two weeks. The company will be registered soon as a C-Corp and it will be incorporated in the state of Delaware.

The Web site allows users to share their true feelings for someone without any fear of rejection. The identity of the person sending the request is not revealed until the receiver also confirms that he or she has the same feelings for the sender. This prevents any awkwardness that might arise between the two people if only one of them has feelings for the other. The request has one correct profile and five other incorrect user profiles and the receiver is free to choose from them. If the receiver chooses the correct profile, then iPintoo exchanges the identities and contact information of the two people. If the receiver chooses the wrong profile, then another set of request mail is sent to the chosen profile and the chain continues until two profiles get matched or one of the receivers in the chain deletes the request without choosing a profile.

The team comprised of Ash Shrivastav, co-founder and CEO, who comes from an investment banking background, Gautam Bhattacharya, co-founder, who holds an MBA from Clemson University and has worked as a research analyst with leading start-ups in the South Carolina region, and Riti Patel, co-founder and CFO, who is a management consultant and helps companies enter into emerging economies.


FDA Fellowship

Dr Payal Sarkar has won the highly competitive U.S. FDA Commissioner’s fellowship (2011). The FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg who has been appointed by President Obama is the spearhead of this fellowship that aims to attract top notch scientists who will contribute towards the improvement of public health and food safety in the US. 40 fellows have been selected out of more than 5,000 applications that included public health professionals, M.D.s and scientists across the United States.

As the Commissioner’s fellow, Dr Sarkar will be investigating and studying federal regulatory policies and conducting research in line with FDA’s goals to improve public health and drug administration.

Dr Sarkar is considered to be one of the top rising stars in Environmental and Public Health research in the U.S. She is also the recipient of the Quentin Mees Research Award in 2007 and was also honored by the Arizona Hydrological Society in 2007 for exceptional public health research.

She has received a PhD from the University of Arizona College of Medicine in 2008 and has worked as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California.

Her seminal work on the identification and control of the “brain eating amoeba” Naegleria fowleri is currently in the news due to several fatalities associated with the disease recently.

Dr Sarkar’s varied expertise in infectious diseases and emerging pathogens is now being utilized by the San Jose government where she currently works at a senior management position wherein she oversees the City’s Environmental Services Laboratory.


Free School Supplies

(Above): HC4A volunteers at work.

Hindu Charities for America, a non-profit, charitable organization based in Austin, Texas, donated school supplies for the 2011-12 school year to 15% of the homeless children in the Austin area. This was the second year items such as backpacks, notebooks and pens were provided to support the education of underprivileged children.

On August 6th, 2011 twenty HC4A volunteers of all ages, from various Hindu communities and organizations came together to serve a free breakfast and distribute school supplies to 300 of Austin’s disadvantaged youth.

Cathy Requwjo, Program Manager of Project HELP (Homeless Education and Learning Program) said, “The Hindu volunteers were awesome! In the present environment of budget cutting this donation is most welcome.”

HC4A seeks to expand this donation drive to homeless children across America.

For more information visit: www.HinduCharitiesForAmerica.org


DVD Release: Florida Road

Florida Road, a movie featuring Ashmit Patel, Vipin Sharma, Smita Jayakar, Priyanshu Chatterjee is an award-winning drama about a man coming to terms with his family, life and his dreams.

Shot on location in Durban, South Africa, the film was nominated for numerous film awards and also won three top awards.

The DVD release for the film is slated to be this month. Interested readers can purchase it online at any of the following: Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com or Blockbuster.com.

For more information on the film, visit www.floridaroadthemovie.com.


Temple Construction

Devotees with Hanuman Rath.

Balaji Temple celebrated a Building Dedication Ceremony and Sri Hanumanji Rath Yatra at Alviso, San Jose, Calif., Aug. 13. Celebrations started with Balaji Abhishekam, and Yajur Upakarma.

After the abhishekam, Swamiji Anandanatha, priest Partha Sarathi, Ram Koteshwararao, Subramanya and devotees proceeded to new temple site. Rohit Narayan carried the Yejamana Danda, Hanuman was carried by Partha Sarathi and kalash was carried by Lakshmi Vittala Dasi. At the new temple site in Alviso, Swamiji performed puja while the devotees sang bhajans.

Hanuman Rath was taken to new temple site and puja was performed on Hanuman and all the construction equipment to start the construction of new temple.

Swamiji Anandanatha spoke briefly about the progress of the temple. The temple board acknowledged Nailesh Jhaveri, Ramana Reddy and Rohit Narayan, who have helped with architecture, site acquisition and construction work.

The Vasavi Seva Foundation donated $15,000 for the new temple construction. Balaji Temple raised about $30,000 in donations for construction. A lunch was provided by Ganesha Indian Cuisine.

Temple activities will be commencing soon at 5010 N. First Street, San Jose, CA.

For donations, please visit the temple website at BalajiTemple.net or call (408) 203-1036.

– Krishna Sheelam


Dadi Parivar Meets

(Above): Children (top) and a devotee (bottom) at the Dadi Pariwar's Bhadi Amavas pooja in Fremont, Calif. [Photo: Amar D. Gupta | Siliconeer]

From Facebook to reality, this group that was recently founded online and then got together in person in Fremont, Calif.

The Dadi Parivar of Silicon Valley held a mangal path in Fremont, Calif., Aug. 28.

The event was the first of its kind to be held in Silicon Valley. Dadi Parivar is a group of families that follow Rani Sati Dadi originally hailing from Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan.

The celebrations included a mangal path, havan, and Chappan Bhog (an elaborate buffet of food with a minimum of 56 different items).

Interested readers can get more information at dadiparivar.usa@gmail.com


Government Failing to Meet the Needs of Multicultural Homebuyers

Saying millions of Americans are being left out of the American dream of homeownership, the nation’s three largest organizations representing multicultural real estate professionals today called upon policy makers to do more for minority homebuyers.

This call to action comes after the Asian Real Estate Association of America, the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, and National Association of Real Estate Brokers met in Washington DC recently to discuss regulatory and policy changes to preserve access to homeownership for people of color.

“Overwhelmingly, the members of our three organizations agree that the lack of mortgage financing is the single-biggest challenge facing minorities who want to buy homes,” said Kenneth Li, AREAA chairman. “The government’s housing recovery efforts have not gone far enough to improve the situation facing minority homeowners.”

At the Multicultural Real Estate & Policy Conference in Washington DC, members of AREAA, NAHREP, and NAREB were surveyed on their views of the home buying market and economic recovery efforts.

According to the survey results, nearly 80 percent of the attendees responded they “believe that the current policy efforts have done little to improve the situation facing minority homebuyers.”

Attendees also felt strongly that an active secondary market role is needed by the government to ensure that all homebuyers have access to the American dream of homeownership.

“These are real estate professionals who are out in the community, trying to help hard-working Americans achieve their dreams of buying homes, and they are confirming what we have long suspected – that their clients cannot get loans,” Carmen Mercado, Chair of NAHREP said.

In the survey of attendees, “mortgage financing availability” was cited as the single-greatest factor facing the multicultural real estate community.

Additionally, respondents cited “tight underwriting requirements” as the greatest challenge facing prospective homebuyers looking to obtain financing.

To stabilize the home-buying market for minorities, the organizations issued a joint report entitled “The Five Point Plan: Refocusing the Future of Minority Homeownership.”

“Our Five-Point Plan is designed to bring common sense and a balanced approach to restoring the dream of homeownership to everyone. None of us wants to have homeownership a dream deferred or denied,” NAREB President and CEO Vincent Wimbish stated.

The Five-Point Plan focuses on sustainability, accountability and responsibility on the part of all parties in a real estate transaction. It calls for more diverse solutions to meet the future housing needs, and demands more preparation and responsibility on the part of consumers and the industry alike. It also calls on the industry to develop unique and innovative solutions to the housing challenges facing the multicultural communities today and in the future.

Specifically, The Five-Point Plan calls for:

A balanced regulatory approach that will support and encourage sustainable homeownership for qualified and responsible consumers seeking to purchase a home;

Increased diversity in the financial services arena and adequate oversight of minority business utilization and senior management hires;

Maintaining strong government support of the secondary market system that includes the broad network of primary lenders, government-supported securitization agency, and FHA that collectively works to broaden credit availability for all communities at all times;

Strong consumer protection oversight to restore consumer and market confidence in homeownership; and

Mandatory financial education for all first-time homebuyers that prepares them for the responsibilities, risks and rights associated with homeownership.

The Plan includes specific recommendations for each of the Five Points.



Click here to read the Current Issue in PDF Format

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TRAVEL: Art Exhibits at SFMOMA
AUTO REVIEW: 2011 Toyota Corolla LE
BOLLYWOOD: Film Review: 'I Am Kalam'
HOROSCOPE: September

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