Texas Sikh community feeds federal employees affected by govt shutdown

The American public has been watching news of US Federal Government shutdown that continues for over a month. (ref: Trump cancels US delegation to Davos World Economic Forum due to shutdown). However, there are a few feel-good stories in the media too.


Houston, January 16 – In a unique gesture, the Sikh community in San Antonio, Texas, offered free meals to fellow American government employees affected by the ongoing shutdown that has left thousands without pay in the US.

The partial government shutdown, which entered the fourth week, has left more than 800,000 federal government workers out of work across the key departments.

Trump wants to build a US-Mexico border wall and is seeking USD 5.7 billion in funding for the physical barrier which according to him is a must to prevent flow of illegal immigrants into the US. The Democrats assert that such a move is a “waste” of taxpayers money.

All federal employees, who have been forced to work without pay, or have been furloughed during the partial government shutdown were offered freshly prepared, hot vegetarian meals for three days starting January 11.

The Sikh community workers prepared the gurdwara menu which comprised lentils, vegetables, rice and tortillas.

“Workers and families affected by the shutdown are invited to Sikh Centre all weekend for free meals starting today,” the Center posted on its Facebook on Friday.

The idea that originated from the community’s willingness to offer help during this hour of difficulty for many American families soon drew many volunteers who offered to come and cook to feed everyone who would come to enjoy the meals.

“Sikh Community is there to support the federal employees who did not receive their paychecks. Also, the Sikh Community appreciates their services and believes in giving gratitude to those men and women for doing a wonderful service for the nation,” Balwinder Dhillon, President of the Sikh Center of San Antonio, told reporters.

“The least we could do is support them with a hot meal for the next three days,” he said.

The Sikh Center of San Antonio is the oldest gurdwara in the city and was established in 2001. It also offers food, clothing and shelter to any needy new immigrants. – PTI

Listing of Gurudwaras in the US.

 

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Google Doodle – Sake Dean Mahomed – The most notable early non-European immigrants to the Western World

Google today features a doodle on  Sake Dean Mahomed

doodlesakedeanmahomed

Turns out “Sake Dean Mahomed was an Anglo-Indian traveller, surgeon and entrepreneur who was one of the most notable early non-European immigrants to the Western World. He introduced Indian cuisine and shampoo baths to Europe, where he offered therapeutic massage. He was also the first Indian to publish a book in English!” (Wikipedia)

Sake Dean Mahomed.jpg

BBC – Beyond the Broadcastran an interesting feature “Brighton, or Brighthelmstone as it was then known, was a developing resort in the 1770s and ’80s when an Indian, Sake Dean Mahomed, arrived to open Mahomed’s Indian Vapour Baths on the seafront, on the site of what is now the Queen’s Hotel. These were Turkish baths in which clients were put in a flannel tent and massaged by someone who poked their arms through slits in the flannel walls. Mahomed was known as a ‘shampooing surgeon’ – shampooing referred not, in the modern sense, to washing the hair, but to massaging the body during a vapour bath”

Gulf dream, no longer cool for Indians

As we approach the end of 2018, there are a number of media articles that describe how the “gulf dream” is slowly dying for Indians.

A recent Right to Information (RTI) request and an inquiry in parliament revealed that in the last six years, an average of more than ten Indian workers died every day in Gulf countries. In August 2018, Venkatesh Nayak from the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) submitted an RTI to the Ministry of External Affairs seeking to know the names, age, sex, and occupation of Indian workers who died in the six Gulf countries from January 1, 2012 till date. He also sought to know the cause of their deaths as mentioned in the death certificates.

Gulf countries, India, deaths, US dollar, working conditions, remittance, Telangana

About 24,570 Indian workers died in six Gulf Countries Since 2012. These include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Saudi Arabia recorded the most deaths at 10,416 while Bahrain, at 1,317, had the least.

Mr. Nayak has also analysed the annual ‘Migration and Remittances Data’ released by the World Bank and found that Indians working in Gulf countries accounted for more than half of the remittance that India received from all over the world between 2012-2017. Out of a total of US$ 410.33 billion in remittances from the world over, remittances from the Gulf countries accounted for US$ 209.07 billion.

Articles of interest:

Desi comic characters are global. MARVEL Introduces Indian Hero as Part of Globe-Trotting CHAMPIONS #1 Relaunch

Marvel Comics’ Champions has broadened its focus in recent months, going from outer space to Weirdworld. The series is being relaunched in January to recruit from all of those places.

Writer Jim Zub is relaunching Champions on January 2, and will be joined by his long-time Wayward partner Steven Cummings. Their new Champions line-up is made up of 14 heroes – five founders from the previous run, but also some surprise additions.

According to Zub,

Qureshi Gupta is an East Indian boy from Delhi whose codename is Pinpoint. He loves hip hop music and eating vada. He creates teleportation portals that can take people around the world in the blink of an eye. He joined the Forums (the online chat group where young heroes stay in touch with each other that was first established in Secret Warriors) and lurked there for weeks, nervous about getting involved until he saw Ms. Marvel’s call to action.

Credit: Steven Cummings (Marvel Comics)

Zub adds in an interview

“Pinpoint is an East-Indian boy, 15 years old. He’s relatively short and thin. His hair is crackling with the same green energy we see around the portal he’s summoned. His eyes have no irises when he uses his powers. His superhero outfit should include form-fitting pants and a kurta shirt with a modern cut and collar to it.”

I wanted Pinpoint’s outfit to mix Indian clothing with an iconic symbol for teleportation/focus. It’s the kind of costume a 15-year old could pull together on his own but also comfortable and not going to inhibit him in combat.

 

Famous four: Indian-origin women in Forbes’ list of 50 female technology moguls!

Four Indian-origin women have been named by Forbes among America’s top 50 female technology moguls, a list that includes tech heavyweights IBM CEO Ginni Rometty and Netflix executive Anne Aaron.

Padmasree Warrior, former Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Cisco; Komal Mangtani, senior director at app-cab aggregator Uber; Neha Narkhede, Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of streaming platform Confluent; and Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, CEO and founder of identity-management company Drawbrige; are in the list.

“Women don’t wait for the future. The 2018 Inaugural Top 50 Women In Technology list identifies three generations of forward-thinking technologists leading more than a dozen tech sectors across the globe,” Forbes said in its ‘America’s Top 50 Women in Tech 2018’

Warrior (58) served in executive positions at both Motorola and Cisco and is now the US CEO of the Chinese electric-autonomous-vehicle startup, NIO.

ForbesTop50
Image from Forbes 50

At the $138-billion Cisco Systems, she had helped the tech giant grow in influence through acquisitions. She is also on the boards of Microsoft and Spotify.

“Warrior still finds the time to mentor other women in the tech industry, stay in touch with her 1.6 million Twitter followers and follow a nightly meditation routine,” the business magazine said.

Mangtani, an alumnus of Dharmsinh Desai Institute of Technology in Gujarat, heads business intelligence at Uber. Currently, she serves on the board of nonprofit organisation Women Who Code and led Uber’s $1.2-billion donation and partnership with Girls Who Code to increase access to computer science.

Narkhede, who studied at Pune university, had as a software engineer at LinkedIn helped develop Apache Kafka — which can process the huge influx of data coming from the site in real time. The data-processing software has become the heart of Confluent, an enterprise Narkhede founded with her LinkedIn co-workers to build tools for companies using Apache Kafka, Forbes said.

The 32-year-old’s firm counts Goldman Sachs, Netflix and Uber as customers.

Forty-three-year-old Sivaramakrishnan’s company, Drawbridge, uses large-scale artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify the different devices people.

“As the number of devices people use on a daily basis — computers, laptops and smartphones — increase, advertisers need a way to show ads to a person across all their devices. Facebook and Google already offer these services to advertisers, but now they have a competitor with Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan’s Drawbridge,” Forbes added.

Article compiled from Forbes and other sources

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard considering run for US presidency in 2020?

Indian Americans have been making strides in American politics. According to recent media sources, Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu lawmaker from Hawaii in the US Congress, is considering to run for the American presidency in 2020.

On Friday, at a Medtronic conference in Los Angeles, an eminent Indian-American Dr Sampat Shivangi introduced Gabbard, 37, and said that she could be the next president of the US in 2020.

The brief statement was marked by a standing ovation, in the presence of the four-term Congresswoman from the 50th US State. Gabbard, a Democrat, who addressed the gathering, however, neither confirmed or denied that she is running for president in 2020.

Gabbard an Indian American, not Indian

Ms Gabbard was born in American Samoa to a Catholic father (Hawaii State Senator Mike Gabbard) and her mother, Carol Porter Gabbard, is of Caucasian descent who professes Hinduism.

Gabbard moved to Hawaii when she was two and embraced Hinduism as a teenager and is well-versed in the scriptures. If Gabbard declares her presidential bid she would be the first Hindu candidate ever from a major political party to announce to enter the race for White House.

More about Tulsi  Gabbard

Click to download portrait

An advocate for environmental policy, Tulsi was elected to the Hawai‘i State Legislature in 2002 when she was just 21 years old, becoming the youngest person ever elected in the state. A year later, she joined the Hawai‘i Army National Guard to serve Hawai‘i and our country. In 2004, Tulsi volunteered to deploy with her fellow soldiers, becoming the first state official to voluntarily step down from public office to serve in a war zone.

Tulsi served two tours of duty in the Middle East, and she continues her service as a Major in the Army National Guard. Tulsi’s 2005 deployment was a 12-month tour at Logistical Support Area Anaconda in Iraq, where she served in a field medical unit as a specialist with a 29th Support Battalion medical company. She was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal at the end of this tour.  – Official Bio

This is not the first time Indian Americans have made American Presidential election bids. In 2016, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley made a bid in early primaries. (ref.  Gov. Nikki Haley’s role in 2016 presidential race fades). Similarly, Indian American governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal ran for Presidential primary in 2016.

Articles in the media:

Questions to ponder after American Missionary was killed by isolated Andaman tribe in India

The media is all abuzz about American Missionary, John Allen Chau who was killed by killed by isolated tribals on island in Andamans in India.

First things first, RIP, Mr. Allen Chau !

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John Allen Chau

A post shared by John Chau (@johnachau) on

This incident and Mr Chau’s death brings up a couple of questions that we need to ponder:

How far will zealous missionaries go to convert isolated tribals? 

Mr Chau was attempting to “convert” to Christianity, a band of highly reclusive tribals. According to a letter, which he wrote to his parents about his attempt at converting remote tribe, Mr. Chau said “You guys might think I’m crazy in all this but I think it’s worth it to declare Jesus to these people.”  A copy of the letter was obtained by DailyMail.com,

This incident has left many wondering about the role of Christian missionaries in converting ‘tribals’ who want to remain reclusive and isolated.

The Sentinelese, are extremely passionate about their culture and way of life. According to NYT, “Islanders Who Killed American Have a History of Guarding Their Isolation – The episode appeared to be a culture clash between an adventurous foreigner, who may have been trying to spread Christianity, and one of the most impenetrable communities in the world.”

While one can empathize with the faith of Christian missionaries, and their enthusiasm, many in India and elsewhere are wondering why the missionaries shouldn’t also exhibit empathy towards local cultures.

The tribal people, with their culture going back thousands of years probably have a system of faith and values that you and I don’t understand. This doesn’t give any of us a the right to intrude and enforce our religion or values to them.

 Do foreign missionaries have a right to break local laws?

This incident also raises questions about legality and rights local citizen. According to media accounts and statements by local police, Mr. Chau’s visit to the island was illegal. The Instagram feeds shared by Mr. Chau before he went missing, also indicates that was aware of the risks he was taking.

“Despite knowing fully well about the illegality of the action and the hostile attitude of the Sentinelese tribesmen to the outsiders, these people collaborated with John Chau for this visit to North Sentinel Island without any permission from the authorities,” Dependra Pathak, director-general of India’s Andaman & Nicobar Police, said . (ABC)

Even officials don’t travel to North Sentinel, where people live as their ancestors did thousands of years ago, and where outsiders are seen with suspicion and attacked.

The story doesn’t end here. Chau’s family will want closure by arranging for a proper burial and funeral. However, the Indian Police are going to have a hard time getting Mr. John Chau’s body out of the island.

“It’s a difficult proposition,” said Mr. Pathak, director-general of police on India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where North Sentinel is located. “We have to see what is possible, taking utmost care of the sensitivity of the group and the legal requirements.” (NavyTimes)

 


More about Andamans and Sentinelese tribesmen

 

sentinelese
Image from Google maps

The Sentinelese, also known as the Sentineli and the North Sentinel Islanders, are an indigenous people who inhabit North Sentinel Island, located in the Bay of Bengal in India. As North Sentinel Island is part of the Andaman Islands, the Sentinelese are considered to be one of the Andamanese peoples. They are designated as a Scheduled Tribe. (Wikipedia)

sentineleseMap
Google Maps