A non-resident Indian (NRI) with roots in Gujarat was brutally killed in a shooting in the United States. Forty year old Akash Talati had shifted to US a decade ago. He was running a motel that housed a strip club in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Talati was the owner of the Diamondz Gentlemen’s Club and was apparently killed in a shootout that resulted from an altercation between the club’s security guards and a patron, who was thrown out.
According to the family, some unidentified assailants had entered the motel with the motive to carry out a loot.“When Akash tried to intervene, the assailants opened firing inside the motel leaving three other employees in the motel injured. Akash died on the spot. After the police reached there, the injured were shifted to hospital where condition of one employee is still critical.”
According to Detective J Littlejohn of Fayetteville Police, the shootout took place around 1.30 am on Saturday, local time at Fayetteville, when Talati was present inside the club. Littlejohn said, “The incident was a result of a verbal exchange between the security guards hired by Talati and a patron, who was asked to leave the club due to his behaviour. He was upset about being asked to go, there was an argument and he opened fire. Talati was shot from close range and died on the spot, while three other employees were injured.”
Littlejohn said no other Indian was injured, while one of the injured is critical. Probe is on to identify the accused, officials said.
Akash is survived by wife Mital, who hails from Surat and eight-year-old son Jay. His last Facebook post, hours before his death, read, “Life is too short for fake connections.”
During a recent trip to Bengaluru, India’s Silicon valley, I came across a car with an interesting license place that proudly indicated that the occupant was a “Honorary Consul of the Republic of Djibouti.”
I was intrigued and was reminded of Graham Greene’s bestseller. What was a Honorary Consul of the tiny African nation doing in Bengaluru, I wondered.
It’s an elite clique: Their swanky cars bear black number plates encrypted with white letters, sport flags of a foreign country, they are guests at all the governor’s events, and have special entry to the seat of power – Vidhana Soudha and Vikas Soudha. They are Honorary Consuls — the creme of society who represent different countries but live right here in Bangalore.
The perks come with great responsibility, though; they are local guardians of the nationals of their respective countries who drop into Bangalore, either on a personal or business trip. Should they run into trouble in the city over issues related to passports, commute, money, they can turn to the Consul for help and guidance.
Consuls are also brand ambassadors of their host country, promoting its political trade and culture in India, particularly Bangalore.
Middle class Indians, especially educated younger class aspire to migrate west for work and to live. The eventual goal is to acquire a foreign citizenship and an Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) status. For middle class Indians, a foreign citizenship, like American Naturalization is not only a status symbol but a sense of having arrived!
This trend is not restricted to Indians alone. Rich and famous people from around the world aspire to get a second passport or citizenship to enable them Visa free travel as and when they please.
Companies like advisory firm Arton Capital frequently track and rank passports that can enable one to travel ‘visa free’ around the world. This year’s 2017 Global Passport Power Rank (link) lists Singaporean passport with a score of 159 as the highest, followed by Germany at 158 and Sweden and South Korea tied at 157.
Arton Capital’s Passport Index is the world’s most popular online interactive tool, which collects, displays and ranks the passports of the world. The real time global ranking of the world’s passports are updated as frequently as new visa waivers and changes are announced. Passports of 193 United Nations member countries and 6 territories (ROC Taiwan, Macao (SAR China), Hong Kong (SAR China), Kosovo, Palestinian Territory and the Vatican) for a total of 199 are considered.
Arton’s report ranked all of the passports of the world for their “total visa-free score,” where a point is given for each country that their holders can visit without a visa, with a visa on arrival, or using electronic travel authorization. What this means is simple: Singaporean Passport holders can travel to 159 countries visa free or requesting a visa on arrival.
Afghanistan ranks at the bottom with a rank of 22 preceded by Pakistan and Iraq tied at 26. The Indian Passport’s Visa Free score is 51.
In case you plan to rush to acquire a Singaporean Passport, keep in mind it is not going to be easy. According to Wikipedia
Singaporean nationality law is derived from the Constitution of Singapore and is based on jus sanguinis and a modified form of jus soli. There are three ways of acquiring Singaporean citizenship: by birth, by descent, or by registration. Citizenship by naturalisation is no longer granted.
A person can apply for registration as a Singaporean citizen if he or she has been a Permanent Resident for at least two years and is gainfully employed or married to a Singaporean citizen.
A couple of days ago, news of a Russian tourist found begging outside the famous South Indian shrine of Kancheepuram went viral.
The backpacker from Russia, Evangelin apparently arrived in India recently. On September 24 he travelled from Chennai to Kancheepuram. After visiting a few temples in the town, he went to an ATM kiosk but was unable to draw money as his debit card’s PIN had got locked. After he was unable to withdraw money from the ATM, he got desperate. On seeing some beggars sitting outside the Sri Kumarakottam Temple, he joined them and started seeking alms using his cap.
Videos and pictures of Evangelin ‘begging’ went viral and media and digirati went wild over the story. The local police in Kanchipuram stepped in, and after verifying his documents, offered him some money to enable him to go to the Russian consulate in Chennai for assistance. This saga also prompted Indian External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to tweet
Evangelin – Your country Russia is our time tested friend. My officials in Chennai will provide you all help. https://t.co/6bPv7MFomI
The story does not end here. This week, the Russian tourist was seen begging in the busy T Nagar area in Chennai since Saturday. He was reportedly charging excited Diwali shoppers Rupees 100 (about $2) for selfies with him. Evangelin reportedly told the media that he had tasted ‘good money’ through begging and could use this to finance his travels in India.
Russian consulate in Chennai had earlier reported that Evangelin had not contacted them and that they will assist him in when he contacts them. The Mambalam police in Chennai detained him after he continued begging in the city. On being questioned, he told the police that he sought alms as per Lord Shiva’s wish and was quoted saying “I am a devotee of the Lord Shiva. I wish to travel across the country.”
Officials seem to be helplessly watching this saga unfold. The police was quoted saying “He holds valid travel documents and visa papers, and cannot be deported immediately.”
Indian entrepreneurs are exploring a variety of tourist ventures including Medical Tourism. The Evangelin saga has interesting implications for #BegTourismIndia :
Enterprising startups may spring up offering #BegTourismIndia for backpackers
Tech savvy tourist-beggars may take to social media by creating facebook and whatsup group, sharing tips on begging, and about tourist hotspots
Some may offer Caucasian backpakers ‘coaching classes’ in the subtle art of begging at temple steps
Here are a couple of Kindle eBooks that are currently FREE for download on Amazon.com
Amish Tripathi’s Raavan (A Preview): Orphan of Aryavarta
3400 BCE, India
The mighty Lord of Lanka, Raavan, sets out to avenge the insult of his sister, Shurpanakha at the hands of the younger prince of Ayodhya, Lakshman. Aware that the Ayodhya royal trio are in exile he flies to Dandakaranya in the Lankan military aircraft, the Pushpak Vimaan. His mission? To capture the Vishnu.
I downloaded this free-kindle version of the ‘booklet’ from Amish Tripathi hoping it was a novella. The author’s note in the first section clarifies “This booklet is being distributed only among a select few. If you are reading this, you are one of those who get a peek into the story I am still writing!”
The booklet of few pages is certainly readable and perhaps a taste of the book-3 – Orphan of Aryavarta.
Maha-bharata The Epic of Ancient India Condensed into English Verse
This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers.
Ramayana and Mahabarata are classic Indian epics that have been studied, translated and transcribed for generations. This kindle version is yet another addition to the wide selection out there and should be useful for English speaking readers interested in Mahabharata.