Prem Watsa named ‘NRI Of the Year’

Prem Watsa, founder of Fairfax Financial Holdings, was conferred the Special Jury ‘NRI of the Year Award’ at the fifth edition of Times NOW & ICICI BankNSE -1.67 % NRI of the Year Awards 2018. Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri was presented with the ‘Global Indian Icon’ award. The Times Network and ICICI Bank awards were hosted in Mumbai on Friday.

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One of India’s top recognition platforms, The NRI of the Year Awards salute the spirit of global Indians who have made a mark for themselves worldwide. “Over the course of five editions, NRI of the Year, our flagship property has emerged as the most distinctive and coveted awards platform, instituted to recognise the achievements of the global Indians. It is an important component of our engagement with the Indian diaspora as a media group representing a nation with a global agenda,” said MK Anand MD, Times Network. Kiren Rijiju, minister of state for home affairs, was the chief guest for the function.

Read rest of the article in Economic TimesEconomic Times

Prem Watsa has a sizable investment in Blackberry (According to bloomberg)

“The reason we put a lot of money in [BlackBerry] was because of [CEO] John Chen. John Chen is an outstanding executive — long track record. And I met him just like that in San Francisco. And he had a terrific turnaround at a company called Sybase. And then he says, you know, I bought every BlackBerry that existed and I really don’t want this company to go down. So I said, would you look at perhaps joining the company, and he said, ‘I’ve got to talk to my wife. If she says yes, I will.’ And she said yes and he joined us. If he hadn’t come, we likely wouldn’t have put [in] any money.”

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Indian American being considered for Supreme Court by President Trump

The news accounts of an Indian American being considered for Supreme Court by President Trump is generating a lot of buzz among Indians and India diaspora around the globe.

Amul Thapar.jpg

According to IANS news reports

Amul Thapar, an Indian-American appeals court judge from the US state of Kentucky is on President Donald Trump’s short list of potential nominees to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement a day before.

The first South Asian to be named to a lifetime federal judgeship, Thapar is one of three minorities on Trump’s list of 25 names, which was put together in consultation with conservative legal scholars, the US media reported.

The others are Frederico Moreno, a federal district judge in South Florida, who is Hispanic, and Robert Young, a retired Michigan Supreme Court judge, who is African-American.

So, who is Amul Thapar?

According to Wikipedia:

“Amul Roger Thapar (born April 29, 1969) is a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He is a former United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky and former United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

Thapar was born in Troy, Michigan to parents who had immigrated from India. He was raised in Toledo, Ohio, where his father, Raj Thapar, owns a heating and air-conditioning supply business. His mother, Veena Bhalla, owned a restaurant. She sold her business after the September 11 attacks and served as a civilian clinical social worker assigned to assist veterans. His parents are divorced. According to his father, the family encouraged Thapar to become a physician but he dreamed of becoming a justice on the United States Supreme Court.”

media accounts

OCIs are to be treated as NRIs for MBBS course: Government of India

Deccan Herald reports today that “OCIs are to be treated as NRIs for MBBS course”

The following news comes at a time when thousands of students are awaiting their counselling for admission to medical exams based on their NEET exam results (link)

The rest of the article from DH follows

The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that the Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs) are a special class of foreigners and they have to be treated as NRIs only for the purpose of their admission to MBBS course.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and S Abdul Nazeer, however, said it is still a debatable issue as there is a difference between the NRIs and the OCIs.

A counsel, appearing for the Union government, submitted before the court that he had received instructions to state that the OCIs are entitled to be considered as NRIs only.

The top court was hearing a plea by a group of OCIs, led by Trupti V Reddy, Shreya Joshi and others, challenging the Karnataka regulations, debarring them from competing for 85% state quota seats for admission to MBBS and other professional courses in colleges of Karnataka by appearing in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET).

A counsel, appearing for the Union government, submitted before the court that he had received instructions to state that the OCIs are entitled to be considered as NRIs only. File photo
Image from Deccan Herald

The court gave further one week time to the Centre to file its affidavit on the issue and put the matter for further consideration on July 17. 

It, however, declined a plea for passing any interim order in view of the fact the counselling for admission is to begin shortly. “We will not disturb counselling,” the bench said.

The medical education regulator MCI had earlier endorsed the provisions of the Karnataka Professional Educational Institutions (Regulations of Admission and Determination of Fee) Act, 2006, as amended in 2017, whereby the Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and OCIs have been treated within the category of NRIs.

With the amendment in the Citizenship Act, 1955, the OCIs claimed they have legal rights to secure admission like other citizens of the country.

The news is significant for thousands of OCIs who returned back with their parents and live in India. In addition it is also significant for OCIs living abroad who aspire to study medicine in India.

Largest worldwide Green action by Sikhs celebrating Guru Har Rai!

EcoSikh is a response from the Sikh community to the threats of climate change and the deterioration of the natural environment.

In 2010, it had launched the celebration of the Sikh Environment Day on March 14 marking the Gurgaddi Diwas of Guru Har Rai ji. This has captivated the imagination of the Sikhs all across the world. Hundreds of gurdwaras, schools, and colleges have joined to celebrate 7th Guru’s vision this year and they have taken green actions. This worldwide activity surpassed last year’s count of 4100 hundred institutions marking this day.

During the last couple of months, the Sikh community has been very active in environmental activity throughout the world.

  • Established in 16 Nations
  • 22 districts of Punjab
  • 18 Indian states
  • 9 Gurdwaras switched to steel thalis including GGSF, banned styrofoam
  • 4 historical gardens revived; Naulakha, Nabha Sahib, Baouli Sahib, Patto Hira Singh Wala
  • Plantation at four national forests in Hong Kong, Kenya, Derby UK and Maryland
  • Flower shows, katha-kirtan on nature, bicycle rallies, kitchen gardens, clean-ups
  • Buta prasad gone viral
  • Green Holla Mohalla Green kitty parties started

Bappi Lahiri Honored by The World BOOK OF RECORDS, UK, as the Originator of Disco beat in Indian cinema, ‘JIMMY JIMMY’ is World’s most popular song

After winning four Lifetime Achievement Awards this month, veteran singer-composer Bappi Lahiri has now been honoured by The World Book of Records, UK as Originator of Disco Beat in Indian Cinema, Jimmy Jimmy is World’s Most Popular song.
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Bappi Lahiri – Wikipedia

The World Book of Records – London,  one of the mammoth organisations that catalogues and verifies a huge number of world records across the world with authentic certification, has acknowledged the contribution of Bappi Lahiri to global music with his immortal song ‘Jimmy Jimmy Aaja Aaja’, which is an anthem in Russia and has been translated in Russian and Chinese, has been part of the original score of Adam Sandler’s Don’t Mess With The Zohan and Top of The Chart number, rendered by Mia. Besides the above, ‘Jimmy Jimmy Aaja Aaja’ is also sung by various singers the world over. Such is its popularity. 

 
Bappi Lahiri is also acknowledged by the global organisation for being the Originator of Disco Beat in Indian Cinema. World Book of Records – London is a paramount international organisation inspiring people to showcase their talent. Under the gracious patronage of Virendra Sharma (Member of Parliament, England) , Dr. Diwakar Sukul (London – England), Karin Heschl (Vienna – Austria), Dr. Ulrich Berk (Wurttemberg – Germany), M. Vasconcelos da Silva (Sao Paulo – Brazil), Abel J Hernandez  (Bogota – Colombia), Anil Audit (Port Louis – Mauritius) and  Santosh Shukla, Supreme Court , Advocate (India) , it encourages people to break or set new records at national or international level. 

Says Santosh Shukla, President – World Book of Records,  “We all are born with a specific purpose to contribute something exclusive to the world through our exclusivity, through our hidden and extreme potential. It is a platform for all humans in this world to showcase their unique and remarkable talent and inspire the world to go one step further and progress from strength to strength.”
 
Adds Bappi Lahiri,  “It has been one long journey with innumerable accolades over nearly five decades and over 600 films. But there is something special about ‘Jimmy Jimmy’. It always has followers in every part of the globe. Such adulation brings tears to my eyes. It is the love of my fans that keeps me going.”
About Mr. Lahiri: Bappi Lahiri Bappi Lahiri 2016.jpg Lahiri in 2017 Background information Birth name Alokesh Lahiri Born Jalpaiguri, West Bengal, India Origin Kolkata, India Occupation(s) Music composer, music director, actor and record producer Instruments Tabla, piano, drums, guitar, saxophone, bongos, dholak, singing Years active 1972–present Labels BL Sound, Saregama, Venus Records & Tapes, T-Series, Tips Industries, Universal Music Group, Abbey Road Studios, Planet LA Records Website bappilahiri.com Alokesh “Bappi” Lahiri is an Indian music composer, music director, singer, actor and record producer. He popularized the use of synthesized disco music in Indian cinema and sang some of his own compositions. He was popular in the 1980s and 1990s with filmi soundtracks such as Wardat, Disco Dancer, Namak Halaal, Dance Dance, Commando, Gang Leader, Sailaab and Sharaabi.  (Wikipedia).

The myth of the Indian vegetarian nation

An insightful article by Soutik Biswas that first appeared in the New York Times and also BBC:

What are the most common myths and stereotypes about what Indians eat? The biggest myth, of course, is that India is a largely vegetarian country.

But that’s not the case at all. Past “non-serious” estimates have suggested that more than a third of Indians ate vegetarian food.

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Image: BBC.com
If you go by three large-scale government surveys, 23%-37% of Indians are estimated to be vegetarian. By itself this is nothing remarkably revelatory.

But new research by US-based anthropologist Balmurli Natrajan and India-based economist Suraj Jacob, points to a heap of evidence that even these are inflated estimations because of “cultural and political pressures”. So people under-report eating meat – particularly beef – and over-report eating vegetarian food.

Taking all this into account, say the researchers, only about 20% of Indians are actually vegetarian – much lower than common claims and stereotypes suggest.

Hindus, who make up 80% of the Indian population, are major meat-eaters. Even only a third of the privileged, upper-caste Indians are vegetarian.

The government data shows that vegetarian households have higher income and consumption – are more affluent than meat-eating households. The lower castes, Dalits (formerly known as untouchables) and tribes-people are mainly meat eaters.

Vegetarian cities in India

  • Indore: 49%
  • Meerut: 36%
  • Delhi: 30%
  • Nagpur: 22%
  • Mumbai: 18%
  • Hyderabad: 11%
  • Chennai: 6%
  • Kolkata: 4%
    (Average incidence of vegetarianism. Source: National Family Health Survey)

On the other hand, Dr Natrajan and Dr Jacob find the extent of beef eating is much higher than claims and stereotypes suggest.

At least 7% of Indians eat beef, according to government surveys.

But there is evidence to show that some of the official data is “considerably” under-reported because beef is “caught in cultural political and group identity struggles in India”.

About 20% of Indians are vegetarians, according to new research. Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist BJP promotes vegetarianism and believes that the cow should be protected, because the country’s majority Hindu population considers them holy. More than a dozen states have already banned the slaughter of cattle. And during Mr Modi’s rule, vigilante cow protection groups, operating with impunity, have killed people transporting cattle.

The truth is millions of Indians, including Dalits, Muslims and Christians, consume beef. Some 70 communities in Kerala, for example, prefer beef to the more expensive goat meat.

Dr Natrajan and Dr Jacob conclude that in reality, closer to 15% of Indians – or about 180 million people – eat beef. That’s a whopping 96% more than the official estimates.

Delhi, where only a third of residents are thought to be vegetarian, may well deserve its reputation for being India’s butter chicken capital.

But, the stereotype of Chennai as the hub of India’s “south Indian vegetarian meal” is completely misplaced. Reason: only 6% of the city’s residents are vegetarian, one survey suggests.

Many continue to believe that Punjab is “chicken loving” country. But the truth is that 75% of people in the northern state are vegetarian.

So how has the myth that India is a largely vegetarian country been spread so successfully?

Some 180 million Indians consume beef, according to new research. For one, Dr Natrajan and Dr Jacob told me, in a “highly diverse society with food habits and cuisines changing every few kilometres and within social groups, any generalisation about large segments of the population is a function of who speaks for the group”.

“This power to represent communities, regions, or even the entire country is what makes the stereotypes.”

Also, they say, “the food of the powerful comes to stand in for the food of the people”.

Why India is a nation of foodies

“The term non-vegetarian is a good case in point. It signals the social power of vegetarian classes, including their power to classify foods, to create a ‘food hierarchy’ wherein vegetarian food is the default and is having a higher status than meat. Thus it is akin to the term ‘non-whites’ coined by ‘whites’ to capture an incredibly diverse population who they colonised.”

Migration

Secondly, the researchers say, some of the stereotype is enabled by migration.

So when south Indians migrate to northern and central India, their food comes to stand in for all south Indian cuisine. This is similarly true for north Indians who migrate to other parts of the country.

Finally, some of the stereotypes are perpetuated by the outsider – north Indians stereotype south Indians just by meeting a few of them without thinking about the diversity of the region and vice versa.

The foreign media, say the researchers, is also complicit “as it seeks to identify societies by a few essential characteristics”.

Chicken is thought to be the most popular form of meat eaten by Indians
Also, the study shows up the differences in food habits among men and women. More women, for example, say they are vegetarian than men.

The researchers say this could be partly explained by the fact that more men eat outside their homes and with “greater moral impunity than women”, although eating out may not by itself result in eating meat.

Patriarchy – and politics – might have something to do with it.

“The burden of maintaining a tradition of vegetarianism falls disproportionately on the women,” say Dr Natrajan and Dr Jacob.

Couples are meat eaters in about 65% of the surveyed households and vegetarians only in 20%. But in 12% of the cases the husband was a meat eater, while the wife was a vegetarian. Only in 3% cases was the reverse true.

Clearly, the majority of Indians consume some form of meat – chicken and mutton, mainly – regularly or occasionally, and eating vegetarian food is not practiced by the majority.

So why does vegetarianism exert a far greater influence on representations of India and Indians around the world? Does it have to do with “policing” of food choices and perpetuating food stereotypes in a vastly complex and multicultural society?

10 money management tips for NRIs

ET Now has an interesting article that highlights money management tips for NRIs. The practical tips include

  • Maintain An NRO/NRE Account In A Bank In India – If you are an NRI and still have income sources in India such as income from ancestral property or from a rented out property, you can keep the money in India by opening an NRO bank account.
  • Create A Power Of Attorney To Manage Your Property In India – If you are leaving behind your property in India, you must assign a person to take care of your assets on your behalf. I
  • If You Wish To Keep Money in An Indian Bank – If you want to maintain a fund with an Indian bank, while you are abroad, you must look for a bank which has a branch in the country you reside at.
  • Watch Out For Currency Rate Fluctuations – You should be careful about the currency fluctuations when making an investment or taking loan in India. A slight change in the value of Indian Rupee against the foreign currency can significantly impact your effective return.
  • Weigh Your Options Before Taking Loan – Being an NRI, you have the advantage of taking loan from both Indian and International banks in the country you live in.
  • Manage Your Taxes – As an NRI, you need to comply with the tax laws of both countries: where you reside and in India. The tax deduction benefits in India are more or less similar for both NRIs and the residents. Still, you might want to consult a tax advisor to maintain tax discipline.
  • Stay Updated With What’s Happening in the Indian Economy – If you own properties or have money invested in India, then it is important that you stay updated with the policy and regulatory changes taking place in the country.
  • Buy Health Insurance Cover – NRIs often prefer to get treatment done in India to deal with a health issue, as there is family back home to take care of them. So a health policy in India always comes handy. You can claim tax benefits on the premiums paid under Section 80D and reduce the tax liability for income accrued from India.
  • If You Plan To Move Back To India – One of the important decisions to make once you are abroad is whether you want to continue living abroad or move back to India.