Sunday, December 31, 2006


When Sunita Williams soared into space with a container full of samosas, the term 'Indian diaspora' acquired a new meaning altogether. With samosas to munch on and the holy book Gita to read, Williams will be in space for six months where she will be the flight engineer of the International Space Station. So, for the next six months at least, the 20 million or so Indian diaspora will not only be spread across 110 countries of the world, but one of them will be in space as well! Sunita's father is of Indian origin while her mother is Slovenian. "I am half Indian, I'm sure Indian people are looking forward to seeing (another) person of Indian origin (after Kalpana Chawla) flying up in space," she said. With her achievement coming in the last month of 2006, Sunita has capped what has been one big year for the Indian diaspora.
Indian origin people made news in all fields, be it sports, industry, entertainment, politics or literature. In March, Mudhsuden Singh Panesar, popularly known as Monty Panesar, made his debut as a spinner in the England cricket team against India in Nagpur. In the 10 Tests he has played till now, he picked up 32 wickets, including a series-winning display against Pakistan, making him a national icon in England. Only the other day, in the course of the ongoing Ashes series Down Under, the turbaned 24-year-old from Luton became the first spinner to take five wickets at Perth, widely considered a fast bowler's paradise. Nicknamed 'Python', he also signed a 300,000-pound book deal in his very first year in global cricket.
At the FIFA World Cup in Germany, a footballer of Indian origin came under the spotlight. Vikas Dhorasoo took the field for France against Switzerland in a group match, playing in the midfield alongside Zinedine Zidane. In the process, Dhorasoo, whose forefathers migrated from Andhra Pradesh to Mauritius, became the first footballer of Indian origin to play in the World Cup finals.
Also in June, news came involving another member of the Indian diaspora that shook world industry. European steel maker Arcelor, the world's largest steel company, agreed to an euro 26.5-billion takeover bid by NRI steel tycoon Lakshmi Narayan Mittal.
August was indeed a big month for the Indian diaspora. On August 14, India-born Indra Nooyi was appointed chief executive officer of $33-billion global convenient foods and beverages company PepsiCo. She became one of only a handful of women to head a top US company. Soon after her appointment, Forbes magazine named the 49-year-old Nooyi as the world's fourth most powerful woman after German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi.
On August 23, Anand Satyanand, a person of Indian origin (PIO), took over as the new governor general of New Zealand. He is the first person of Asian ethnicity to become the Queen's representative in New Zealand. Satyanand began his speech on the steps of New Zealand's parliament in Wellington with a "namaste, namashkar, sat sri akaal, greetings to everyone!"
Soon afterwards, another PIO, Bharrat Jagdeo, was re-elected president of the Caribbean nation of Guyana. This is his third consecutive term in office since he took charge in 1999. And in October, Kiran Desai, daughter of prominent Indian origin writer Anita Desai, created literary history by becoming the youngest woman to win the prestigious Man Booker Prize for Fiction at the age of 35. Desai won the award for her second book, The Inheritance of Loss, described by reviewers as "radiant, funny and moving family saga" and "the best, sweetest, most delightful novel". Born in India September 3, 1971, Desai is currently a student at Columbia University's creative writing course.
Hardly had the euphoria of Desai's achievement died, when India-born Western classical music conductor Zubin Mehta was honoured by the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in December. Born in Mumbai April 29, 1936, Mehta has conducted some of the most prestigious orchestras including the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. Kennedy Center chairman Stephen A Schwarzman called Mehta "a world treasure".
Among other recognitions, Thomas Kailath of Stanford University was inducted into the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame; Indo-Canadian scientist Asit K Biswas received the 2006 Stockholm Water Prize, known as the Nobel Prize for environment.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar became the first woman to be made leader of the opposition in Trinidad & Tobago's parliament.
Indian American pioneer Appu Kuttan was awarded the 2006 Champions of Digital Literacy Inspiration Award.
NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul was appointed the inaugural chancellor of University of Westminster; and Lord Karan Billimoria became the first Parsi to enter Britain's House of Lords.

Friday, December 29, 2006


For unspecified reasons, Canadian journalist and human rights activist, Sukhminder Singh, was denied an Indian visa to accompany Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty on his trade mission to India and Pakistan in January. It is not known if he was also denied a Pakistani visa. Singh, a former radio and television personality from Ontario, is the managing editor of the Punjabi-language newspaper, Sanjh Savera Weekly.
Singh said that the government of India often boasts itself for being the world's largest democracy, yet it has no problem with arbitrarily denying a short-term visitor visa to a journalist. "Within a democratic process everyone must have a right to freedom of opinion and expression," Singh said. He called on McGuinty to review the human rights record of India prior to his visit and also reminded the premier that, just as Canada’s last two prime ministers recently questioned China on its human rights, India also needed to be held accountable.
During his 16 years as a radio producer and host, and 11 years of television broadcasting, Singh brought serious issues to light with his commentary and editorial style. Singh said he is also a human rights activist who frequently speaks out against the Indian government for its oppression of the Sikhs - specifically, on the 1984 Indian army attack on Darbar Sahib, the Delhi pogroms and the disappearances of tens of thousands of Sikhs in Punjab. He volunteers with World Sikh Organization of Canada and Ontario Khalsa Darbar on issues related to Sikh-Canadians. Singh said that India's denial of access to humanitarian agencies and journalists makes it clear that India has a serious and shameful problem with its human rights record.


A Sikh school's plans to expand has divided the community, with some saying that segregating the boys and girls from the larger Canadian society will only harm the students. Not everyone agrees. The Khalsa Community School in Mississauga has acquired five acres of land in Brampton and is drawing up plans to extend its program through high school. Started in 1995, the Khalsa School has grown from 68 pupils to 400. The school offers a means of holding on to the Sikh tradition.
Now some parents and others in the Sikh community believe that the policy of teaching the boys and girls without mixing them up in the classroom with others in the Canadian society is only isolating them. The Globe and Mail newspaper quoted Kaylene Brar, a teacher from another school, as saying: "Canada's USP (unique selling point) is its multi-ethnicity. Kids, at not just the Sikh school but other religious schools as well, miss out on cultural assimilation that starts at the school level." In her view, children must learn about different cultures and mingle with other children.
But Deepinder Gill, whose two daughters study in the Sikh school, does not agree. "It keeps them closer to their faith and their culture," he argued, in supporting of maintaining the school's Sikh identity. "I don't have to worry that they won't know anything about Sikhism. They are doing well academically," he said. At the school, students and teachers have their heads covered with turbans or scarves.
"We offer Sikh families a choice," said Harman Ahluwalia, vice-principal of the school. The school follows the Ontario school curriculum besides teaching 'kirtan', Sikh theology, Punjabi language and Sikh heritage. "People have different priorities, we give them a chance to exercise their choice," Ahluwalia said.
The Sikh population in Greater Toronto Area, now 150,000, is growing and the high school is expanding at the right time, said Roma Kaur, who is an editor of a women's magazine in Toronto. "The school's doing a good job of preserving the Sikh heritage, but it is time to upgrade it. I know there's been a demand for it," she said.


Indians living in urban areas are far more overweight and abdominally obese than NRIs; however, more NRIs have diabetes than resident Indians, according to a four year study funded by the US Congress to study patterns of obesity and diabetes among NRIs and Indian citizens. The study was commissioned by Texas University and conducted jointly by Indian and American physicians in seven locations in the US, in the capital city of India, New Delhi, and in the rural area of a southern Indian state, Tamil Nadu.
The study found 17.4 percent NRIs were diabetic compared with 13.6 percent in Delhi and 9 percent in rural India. The higher prevalence of diabetes in NRIs is attributed to their lifestyles, a trend fast being adopted by urban India. All 2,146 subjects of the study were over 18 years of age. Of the sample 60 percent from the US, 50 percent from New Delhi and 32 percent from Tamil Nadu were male.It was found that NRIs also had a higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MS), which is characterised by a set of risk factors that include abdominal obesity, low HDL cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol, high blood pressure and insulin resistance. More than half of the patients with MS are at an increased risk of coronary disease.


Sneezing and spitting on roads and in public places has been banned by the government of Kerala (southern most state in India) in an attempt to check the spread of communicable diseases. Orders were issued that responsible department head checks spatters and sneezers who pose a hazard and an inconvenience to the public. The state government was directed to provide spittoons in public places and offices and post signs to inform people of the ban.


Santhi Soudarajan, who won a silver for India in women’s 800m at the recent Doha Asian Games, has been exposed as not being a woman after a failed gender test. The revelation means lost medal for India. The Athletic Federation of India, which selected Soudarajan for the event, was allegedly aware of the issue as Soudarajan was denied a job in the Railways department after failing a similar gender test a while ago.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


An innovative idea, started by the Punjab Police Department is providing assistance to NRIs who are being cheated in disputes over property, theft, marriage, or other areas. Known as the NRI cell of the Punjab Police, it is accessible by phone and email. The Cell has also started an NRI radio helpline for Indo Canadians, with the help of a radio station in Canada. Indo-Canadians can locally call a live program hosted by the radio station, which then connects the caller to the Cell through tele conferencing. Punjab Police is now trying to contact other radio and TV stations for this purpose.
Awareness of the Cell is not yet widespread, so the Punjab Police is hoping to spread their message to NRIs in many more countries. In a recent case, an Indo-Canadian approached the NRI Cell of the Punjab Police when his family was continuously attacked by miscreant gangs in their village. When Palwinder Singh sought the help of the local police, he was given no help. This made Palwinder Singh fly over to India from Toronto in an attempt to oversee the matter himself. He approached the NRI Cell and filed a case. The accused were soon arrested and put behind bars.
Located in Chandigarh, the Cell works 24 hours registering NRI grievances. Since its formation in 2004, the Cell has handled over 900 complaints. You can contact the cell by email at It is estimated that there are 12 million people of Punjabi origin around the world. The United Kingdom, Canada and the US followed by the Middle East have the largest immigrant population of Punjabis.


Strange as it may sound, but a groom-to-be stole jewellery and cash from her future wife’s home in Mumbai and is now in jail. The bride, however, says she has forgiven him for the theft and is now waiting for him to complete his sentence so that that the two can tie the knot. The bride’s father, who was earlier furious over his future son-in-law’s crime, is now ready to compromise and has given his consent for the union. After investigation the police found out that the groom stole a key to the house and when the family was away shopping for the wedding, he broke in and took the jewellery and cash.


With only a month to go before the curtain rises for the 5th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), the annual conclave of the Indian diaspora, over 750 delegates from across the world have confirmed their participation. This is the fourth time the capital is hosting the event, to be held Jan 7-9, organised by the ministry of overseas Indian affairs (MOIA) in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Delhi government.
After Delhi played host to the first three editions of PBD until 2004, the next two were held in Mumbai and Hyderabad successively.According to a CII official, block bookings have been made in all categories of hotels in the city to accommodate the delegates, expected to number around 1,200.Asked how would the latest event be different from the earlier ones, the official said: "This time we will have a very distinguished panel of speakers like (Nobel Laureate) Amartya Sen and (management guru) C.K. Prahlad.
"This apart, we are providing a networking platform which will allow members of the Indian diaspora to interact with the Indian industry. Logistically too, PBD 2007 will be much better than the previous editions."The focus of PBD 2007 will be education, health, youth, women and investment.There will also be a conference of parliamentarians of Indian origin, besides separate sessions to deal with issues of the Indian diaspora living in the Gulf, Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa, Canada and the US.
There will be a number of plenary sessions focusing on diverse issues like the role of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) in promoting India's image abroad, partnership opportunities with Indian states and leveraging technology for development.Exhibitions and functions showcasing the art and cultural heritage and cuisines of India are also planned.Thirteen Indian states have confirmed their participation in the state plenary sessions, said a government official.
"Of these chief ministers of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Kerala and Goa have confirmed they will head their state delegations," the official told IANS.Both the inaugural and valedictory sessions of the event will be held at the Vigyan Bhavan convention centre.The annual conclave is seen as a key opportunity for interaction between India and its vast diaspora.In the Hyderabad edition of January this year, the Overseas Indian Citizenship (OIC) card scheme was launched and an agreement signed with the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) for improving rural healthcare in India. A remittance service for non-resident Indians was also unveiled.


The Delhi Government will waive the 12.5 percent luxury tax on hotel tariff for delegates attending the 5th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) to be held here January 7-9 next year. The decision was taken at an inter-ministerial meeting held here Tuesday to review the preparations for the annual diaspora conclave. The Delhi government's move was seen as helping make the stay of delegates economical and even giving a boost to attendance, according to a press release.
PBD 2007 is being organised by the ministry of overseas Indian affairs (MOIA) in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the government of the national capital territory of Delhi.In the meeting, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said all Indian associations abroad should be informed about the Delhi government's move.
There are about 1,000 associations of Indians living in different countries and their involvement will greatly facilitate the wide publicity of PBD 2007, the release quoted Ravi as saying. Held under the chairmanship of MOIA secretary Nirmal Singh, the meeting was also attended by representatives of the ministries of information and broadcasting, commerce, human resource development, home affairs, external affairs, science and technology, and civil aviation, apart from those from the Delhi government, CII and Delhi Police.
To be held under the theme 'Rooting for the roots', PBD 2007 is expected to be attended by around 2,000 delegates and will focus on education, healthcare, women, youth and investment.A new feature of the 2007 edition of the conclave will be the sessions devoted specifically to geographical regions, which have large concentrations of overseas Indians.Another major addition to the PBD this time will be a daily report-back session to capture the main outcomes and issues raised during the day.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


There was a time when the Internet was almost the exclusive domain of youth. But that sort of ageism will soon be irrelevant, judging by the small but growing phenomenon of seniors turning to blogging.The greying of the web recently hit the spotlight in Britain, where a 79-year-old grandfather — who goes by the handle 'geriatric1927' — jumped straight on to the latest trend in blogging: vlogging (as in video blogging).
The widower has found fame as the oldest active member on YouTube, the video hosting site owned by Google on which he recounts to the camera stories from his own grandparents who lived in Victorian England (The adress of the website is ( France, the residents of an old people's home in Brittany contribute to a joint blog called 'Alleuxnautes' (, and a 'storytelling grandma', Laurence Lamiable, has found success on
A retired Belgian woman, Annie (, has also been giving glimpses of her life in Syria, where she has been living for the past four years. Right now, they and other senior bloggers are on the fringe of the Internet revolution. But studies show their number is growing, especially in the 50-70 year age group."The tool is common among the young, but the gap between the 25-34 year-olds and the seniors is not as big as that," said Alexis Helcmanocki, the head of Ipsos's new technologies division which organised the poll. AFP

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Pakistani man living in New York was found guilty on Wednesday of wiring money and trying to send a foot soldier to a Sikh militant separatist group opposed to the Indian government. Khalid Awan was found guilty in Brooklyn federal court of transferring $25,000 and trying to recruit Harjit Singh, a former fellow prison inmate, to the Khalistan Commando Force in 2003.
Awan faces a maximum of 45 years in prison when he is sentenced on March 7. He was found guilty of all counts he faced, including providing material support or resources to terrorists and money laundering to promote terrorism. Awan was detained on federal credit card fraud charges as a material witness shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Inside prison he met Singh, who federal authorities say he introduced to Khalistan Commando Force leader Paramjit Singh Panjwar through phone calls placed from the prison -- in the hopes that after Singh's release he would travel to Lahore, Pakistan, to join the group. But Singh turned on Awan, telling federal authorities of his relationship with Panjwar, and Awan was soon being taped talking to the militant leader on the telephone about the $25,000 and Singh's future.
The militant group, formed in 1986, is made up of Sikhs who have tried to violently force India into letting them form their own state in the country's Punjab region. Aside from hundreds of bombings, acts of sabotage and kidnappings committed against the Indian government, the group is responsible for the murder of Chief Minister Beant Singh of Punjab in 1995, according to the U.S. Justice Department.


After the Chinese, US gift and collectible major Lenox has begun manufacturing idols of Hindu god Ganesha. The decision came after an Indian American convinced officials at Lenox of their huge market potential. Simmi Chopra, who sells Lenox products at her collectibles shop outside Disney World in Florida, approached the company to think beyond Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck to Hindu deities like Ganesha, Durga and Lakshmi.
But persuading Lenox executives in Pennsylvania to craft Ganesha wasn't easy. Lenox's collectibles are typically high-volume versions of recognisable characters created by Disney or Universal Studios. Chopra, a Sikh by religion, hopes to make Hindu gods and goddesses better known in the US, according to the Orlando Sentinel newspaper.
"When Simmi came to us, we didn't know if we wanted to do that," said Dennis Wood, Lenox vice president (sales). "But ... she convinced us she could market this to her faith market."
Once the company agreed, making the 15-inch-tall, 12-inch-wide, 24-karat-gold Lord Ganesha proved to be an uphill task. "The process itself was an extraordinary challenge," Wood admitted. Complexities such as a tiny mouse that serves as Ganesha's companion and the minute desserts in his hand were difficult to mould in Lenox quality. According to Chopra, it took three years to complete the project. Multiple moulds were tried and trashed along the way.
The first piece rolled out in June, and Chopra donated it to a Hindu temple in Greater Orlando, Casselberry. The second came with a $2,000 price tag. In all, 1,000 limited-edition pieces of Ganesha were manufactured and nearly all of them have been sold. Excited by the response, Chopra is now working on the second piece in the line of Hindu-themed sculptures — the sacred symbol 'Om' — due to be out early next year. "We want to try to place this in every house," Chopra said.
The idol of goddess Durga, representing female energy, is scheduled to be released in spring. Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, is likely to be out next fall. Lenox, established in 1889, has created gifts, tableware and collectibles for many US presidents and dignitaries. The company's USP is that it guarantees satisfaction - "You don't like it, bring it back." Chinese-made Hindu gods have already become a major draw in the Indian market, particularly during major festivals like Diwali.


The website YouTube that showed us air guitar impresarios, Diet Coke explosions and nine months of gestation in 20 seconds has helped catch a suspected killer, Canadian police say. Authorities in Hamilton, Ontario had posted surveillance video earlier this month on the popular website in which users share video clips — hoping for help to identify two "people of interest" in a murder case.
The one-minute video shows two young men entering a local bar hours before two others were stabbed in a brawl outside after a hip-hop music concert on November 17. One man died in the incident. Late Tuesday, a 24-year-old suspect turned himself in to police, accompanied by his lawyer, and was charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder, police said.
"I suspect YouTube may have had something to do with his decision to turn himself in," Detective Sergeant Jorge Lasso said. "A lot of people called us after seeing the video to give us information to help in our investigation."
YouTube and similar websites won superstar status in 2006, helping to transform the Internet from a window on the world into a stage on which people play out the mundane and the bizarre in home-made video clips. More than 100 million user-contributed video clips are viewed daily at the site, which was launched 18 months ago in San Bruno, California and bought for $2.1 billion dollars by Internet giant Google in November.
But this was the first case in which police used YouTube as an "investigative tool," Lasso said in an earlier interview. "We decided to post a video on YouTube because we felt it would more likely be seen by the people who attended this concert, who are in their teens and early 20s," he said. "I have children and they don't watch mainstream media, but they seem to be as informed as I am . . . We realized that if we want to target this demographic, we'd have to go to the web, where they get their information." Almost 16,000 people viewed the Hamilton police video online.


An Indian businessman in Australia accused of faking his mother's death to claim a $1 million insurance policy may not be extradited to the country until cleared by the Indian police. Pavan Shivnani, 35, of East Perth and the former chief of grain trader Australian Foods Company, is alleged to have taken out a life insurance policy on his mother's behalf with Norwich Union Australia in 2003, naming himself as the beneficiary.
Investigators claim that both Pavan and his wife Kanchan Shivnani, 31, who is also a co-accused in the case, obtained a fake death certificate from a doctor in India in 2004 and faxed the insurance company to cash in the policy. But an inquiry by the insurance firm found that Pavan's mother was alive, reported the Australian newspaper.
Kanchan appeared in Perth District Court on Tuesday, and will apply in February to get her charges heard separately from her husband, who is presently in India. Pavan is facing a police case in India resulting from a traffic accident and has had his passport confiscated. "My client is facing charges over a serious traffic crash in India. He is also being sued over a business debt incurred in India," Pavan's lawyer Paul Meyer said.
"The director of public prosecutions is trying to get extradition proceedings in place but it could take another year," Meyer said. Pavan is facing a further fraud charge over allegations he defrauded the Commonwealth Bank in 2003 by using false documents to obtain more than $450,000. The finance related to an Australian Foods order with a Taiwan company for a barley shipment.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Are we polite,eh?

"Sorry," said one. "Sorry," said the second one. "Sorry," said the third. "Sorry," said the fourth. "Sorry," said the fifth passer by. I checked my self, my shoes, my bag, my jacket. Everything seemed fine. Then why were all these passers by saying sorry to me. Was it just because they overtook me? After a few weeks, on my first day on the sky train, a stranger fellow passenger said, "Hi! How are you?" Well, none of your business, I thought to myself. But I did manage a half hearted smile - out of courtesy.
Coming from New Delhi, I had never heard of greeting strangers, passers-by. Never experienced it either till I'd set my foot on this multi-cultural land. Canada came as a surprise to me. A pleasant one. So did the people in BC. Well, I cannot say about places like Toronto or Montreal. I have heard horror stories about these two places. Just kidding! Toronto was ranked third by Reader's Digest in the global courtesy ratings. Montreal was 21st.
As a new Indo-Canadian, I found it so difficult to smile at strangers or greet them. Something as simple as saying hello, became a fight for me. It just didn't come naturally. Every time I had to force myself to at least return the smile. The result: I stopped looking at people, pretending I was in a rush. At times on the sky train, I even pretended I was on the phone to avoid having a conversation with my fellow boarders.
Things have changed since then. I have completed almost 10 months in Vancouver (actually Surrey) and now I proudly and comfortably say sorry, hello, how are you to strangers, passengers etc etc. And I smile at anybody and everybody. Most recently, I even caught myself striking a conversation with a fellow sky train boarder. Believe me, I did.
No matter how much I loved and appreciated this courteous nature, deep inside I felt this politeness would crack under test - in a desperate situation. I was wrong. And I am glad I was proven wrong. During this month's heavy snowfall, the courteous level did go down, but negligible. The day after the heavy snowfall, I was walking down to the nearest bus stop in the morning. Had no choice but to share the snow-covered road with the vehicles. Out of 10 motorists that passed by, nine slowed down to avoid splashing snow at me. One didn't.
In the evening after work, due to bad weather and some other technical reasons, lesser number of sky trains was plying. The ones plying were over loaded. At Columbia sky train station, we had to wait in a long queue to board the expo line to King George. Some pushing and pulling did happen, but with a smile. Some did break the queue but said sorry. While some completely lost it acting as if they were the only ones stuck in a bad situation.
I, on the other hand, enjoyed being in queue after 10 months. In India, one has to stand in a queue almost everyday and everywhere. Let me shed some light on how the capital city of India works. (By the way I am proud to be an Indian, eh. None of the following shows my prejudice, only an insight into one of the most populous cities.) As I mentioned above, New Delhi is one of the most populated cities in the world. You see people anywhere, everywhere, every time, all the time. It simply becomes the survival of the fittest. It’s a situation of less supply and more demand. You want to be ahead of others to grab what is available.
About the queues, well, anywhere you go in Delhi there are long queues - at bus stops, at stations, airports, small shops, big shops, garment shops, shoe shops, movie halls, government offices, restaurants, fast food joints (Mac Donald’s), book stores, coffee shops, phone booths, doctor's clinics. Sometimes, even to pay a visit to a temple, one has to wait in a long queue. Now, considering the less supply and more demand situation, people have no time for politeness. It isn't that people aren’t polite. They just don’t have the time. They'd rather be earning some more money, or catching the overloaded bus than be polite. Right?
Coming back to Vancouver, or Canada as a whole, I am sure a lot of you born and raised here would not consider being courteous a big deal. Ask me - it is. Lately, I have noticed just making a short, harmless, courteous conversation with a complete stranger can be really healthy. That is because sometimes you come to know of things you weren't aware of, the other times it helps you keep your mind off a lot of trash, and finally, smiling while conversing makes you forget and forgive.
How's that, eh?

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Describing Orissa as a state blessed by god, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi on Saturday called upon the Indian diaspora, especially Oriyas, to invest in the state to further its economic growth. Inaugurating a two-day convention of non-resident Indians (NRIs) and Oriyas from outside the state, Ravi said Orissa is a forward-looking state and has rich natural and mineral resources.
"Proper management of these resources would ensure that Orissa graduates to the level of a developed state," the minister said at the convention titled 'Emerging Opportunities in Orissa'. Hoping the convention would give an opportunity to NRIs for new initiatives and investment in Orissa, Ravi said that society could be fully developed only with social justice and equal opportunity and Orissa also could go ahead with this principle for development. Pitching for investment in the state, Orissa's Minister for Energy, IT and Culture Suryanarayan Patra said the atmosphere in the state was perfect for new projects. "In Orissa, we work as one - politicians, bureaucrats, government," he said.
Former chief justice of India GB Patnaik, addressing the gathering, said: "In this age of liberalisation, globalisation and privatisation, if the government does not come forward, then we can build our state with private enterprise, provided we have the will power." Orissa has seen high levels of investment in recent years. The state received 11 percent of the total foreign direct investment that has flowed into India this year, and, according to experts, there is potential for $30 billion worth of investment in the state.
Managing director of Posco India, the South Korean steel maker that is setting up a plant in Orissa, also gave a presentation of his company's plans. Three seminars - on IT and business process outsourcing (BPO), tourism and hospitality and on health and education - are being held during the convention. A five-day Orissa Utsav is also being organised at Dilli Haat from Dec 17-21. Around 100 delegates, including 40 from overseas, are attending the convention.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Members of Winnipeg's Indo-Canadian community engaged in what they described as a first and difficult meeting Sunday night to discuss family violence in their culture. Community leaders, along with religious elders and counsellors, discussed sensitive subjects such as arranged marriages, spousal abuse and cultural pressures families may face after immigrating to Canada.
"We need to take responsibility if we become aware of it. And nobody wants to take responsibility because they're part of the problem," said Rubi Bedi, who attended the talks on Sunday. "Our elders, our priests ... our churches, our temples — they are all part of the problem. We are all part of it." The Sunday discussion came in the wake of the murders of a number of Indo-Canadian women this fall. In October, Navreet Waraich, 27, was stabbed to death by her husband in their Surrey home. Jatinder Waraich has been charged with second-degree murder.


In a role reversal of history, Indian priests are not only meeting the shortage of priests in churches in Britain, but Christian migrants from India, particularly from Kerala, are helping boost dwindling church congregations. Western missionaries in the 19th century trekked to remote tribal areas of India and converted tribes, who are now returning the favour by moving to places such as Wales to meet a shortage of priests there.
One of the first Indian priests to arrive in Wales to preach Christianity was Rev Hmar Sangkhuma, from the Diocese of Mizoram in northeastern India. Mizoram has a majority Christian population that was initially converted by missionaries from Wales between 1840 and 1960.Sangkhuma has been offering spiritual guidance to the local Welsh population in Maesteg, near Bridgend. Some time ago, a Methodist church in Swindon had its first Indian minister, Rev Ajay Singh.On taking over, Singh remarked that he was surprised that the congregation was not larger. "One of my aims while here will be to increase the size of the congregation; not to just fill the church, but for them to accept god," he had said.
During the colonial era, Christian missionaries were encouraged to spread the gospel in India's tribal areas, including the northeast. Much of the work was undertaken by missionaries from Wales, Ireland and Scotland. The Mizos consider the Welsh Presbyterian Church the "mother church'.Wrote former Home Secretary B.P. Singh in his book, "The Problem of Change: A Study of North-East India": "(The) impact of Christian missionaries on the tribal population was spectacular. "The Nagas, Mizos and Khasis in particular have undergone profound changes as a result of the spread of Christian ideals among them. Christianity taught these tribes the value of peace, tolerance and co-existence.
"The familiarisation of these tribes with new ideals, coupled with the subsequent independence and democratisation of the polity, have taken them into the modern world, with all its strengths and dangers. Church sources say that attendance in churches has been progressively dwindling in various parts of Britain. The 2001 census showed that fewer than one in 10 people in Wales regularly attended church or chapel that also faces a shortage of priests. The latest to report this is the county of Staffordshire, where recent migrants from various countries, including India, are helping boost congregations.
According to reports from Stoke, Staffordshire, the Holy Trinity Church in Hartshill hosts two groups of worshippers from North Staffordshire's Malayali community, who hail from Kerala.They meet on Sunday afternoons and evenings in the church hall. Their meetings boost church attendance. About 100 people in total attend the normal Sunday services, whereas around 80 Malayalis attend the two group sessions.
Roy Wilshaw, a churchwarden at Holy Trinity, said the new members were really making a difference to the church. He said: "It is lovely. We are in conversation with one another and we invite each other to special functions. It is good for us and good for them. It makes for a better relationship between the two communities."Mammen Philip, 34, said the Malayali community had used the Holy Trinity church hall free of charge for the last two years. Once a month the mass is held in the Malayalam language.
A priest travels from Birmingham to take the service at Holy Trinity. Philip said: "I think most British people are not very religious. There are 150 to 200 families from Kerala in North Staffordshire and most of them here are Christians, with 90 percent being Catholic. We are all religious."Every week, we go to church. When we came here we wanted to follow our customs and religion and teach our children how to grow in faith."Others boosting the church congregations in Staffordshire hail from Fiji and Poland.

Monday, December 11, 2006


An Indo-Canadian teenager is fighting for his life and his 11-year old friend is dead after plunging through the frozen surface of a pond in Ontario. Relatives identified the dead boy as Brunthan Nadarajah and 15-year-old Kishoban Alakeswaran as the boy who is listed in critical condition, according to the Star newspaper.
Rescuers struggled for nearly an hour Sunday before they could pluck Kishoban and Brunthan from the frigid waters of the small water retention pond. The nightmare began as a group of five young friends were walking across a field, taking a shortcut as they headed for a soccer game.As the boys walked past a pond, Kishoban and Brunthan, ignoring warnings from their friends, stepped out on the ice and began skipping stones across the frozen pond surface. Kishoban went through first, disappearing beneath the water as Brunthan, a Grade 6 student scrambled to save him. "Kishoban quickly disappeared under the water," one of the boys said.Brunthan struggled to stay afloat on his back, keeping his head out of the water, yelling "Save me! Save me! I can't breathe," the boy added.
However, Kishoban was the first to be pulled out, and rushed by ambulance to the nearest local hospital.Horrified bystanders said it took significantly longer before rescuers had Brunthan back on shore. He was immediately loaded into an air ambulance and rushed to Sick Kids. "It breaks your heart," said Sebastian Chiaramida, 44, one of Brunthan's neighbours. "It's been a traumatic day for everybody. It hurts, you've got young kids. Things like this always seem to happen around Christmas time. "Four police officers involved in the rescue had to be taken to hospital for hypothermia but were released after treatment.


They are the first generation Indians in the United States who migrated in the early 1960s. But even after spending nearly five decades in the fabled melting pot, they have not completely disconnected from India. This group of US citizens has found a way to get literally the best of both worlds - post retirement; they spend six months in their mother country and six months in their adopted country. Meet Shahmat Khan, Affiliate Research Professor at George Mason University, living in a sprawling bungalow in a Washington suburb. His wife and he have also bought a house in NOIDA and are in the process of transporting some of their exclusive stuff from their home in Washington to their new home in India.
Even as his wife calculated the cost of transportation, Khan tried to get answers to obvious questions such as the money required to lead a comfortable life in India. "Do you think with a monthly intake of a lakh of rupees, we will be able to live comfortably?" he asked. He is also not sure whether they should buy furnishings in India to deck up their NOIDA house to their American taste or to carry everything, from A to Z, from the US. "We are very excited as we will able to keep in close touch with our family and friends in India without distancing ourselves from our children," he added.
And they are not the only ones. Many Indians living in the suburbs of Washington, New York and elsewhere in the US or even Canada are now leading dual lives. After passing out from London School of Economics decades back, Liaqat Ali's obvious destination was the World Bank. On way to India for his six-monthly sojourn Ali said, "I landed in Washington DC in 1964 to work as an economist at the World Bank. We were only six Indians then. In those days Americans used to look at us with great puzzlement, they used to ask silly, inquisitive questions which often made my wife Sehba very angry." Liaqat retired after a distinguished career and has shifted base to Toronto after over 40 years in Washington. But he always spends six months in India.
He is happy maintaining two establishments, but is not sure how long this will remain feasible. He is involved in social work for his community in Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh while his poet wife gets to mingle with her like-minded friends. "She loves the cultural life of UP, but at times gets furious over the frustrations of daily living in India. You need to know someone to get things done, unlike in the US where the system works. The phenomenon is raising eyebrows among Americans, who always believed their country could absorb people of every colour and background into one America. And here is a section of their population which is determined to preserve its own ethnic identity. (HT)

Saturday, December 9, 2006


Burnaby: A Burnaby woman selling Chihuahua puppies has had one from the litter stolen.
Burnaby Police Constable Kalinda Link says an Indo-Canadian couple came to the seller's home on Colleen Street about 7pm Thursday to view a litter of tiny pups. After telling the seller that they wanted to take a male puppy out to show a realtive in a waiting car, the couple drove off with the pup.
Link says it's distressing, because the puppy is only five weeks old, "And that puppy has just been weaned from its mom and it really shouldn't be let loose from its mother until it is eight weeks." Link says the puppy will likely die because of its young age and the fact that it hadn"t had any vaccinations.


A decision by Surrey council to restrict house sizes in a neighbourhood of ranch-style homes has led to accusations of racism. "I think it's racism," St. Helen's Park resident Kamaljit Thind said yesterday. "By this [decision], they are telling me I am not welcome here, that I am not allowed to build a home to fit my family."
Council on Monday night voted to limit the size of new homes in St. Helen's to 3,200 square feet, including the basement. The bylaw, the first of its kind in the city, was the result of two years of consultation with residents who wanted to preserve the North Surrey neighbourhood's character. But other residents, mostly of South Asian background, opposed the bylaw, calling it discriminatory.


Vancouver: With another weekend of pre-Christmas parties fast approaching, there are some do's and don't's to playing a good host. According to the BC Safety Council's Brian Lowes, ensuring your guests arrive home safely is key, even if it means not drinking at your own party, "You have to limit your own consumption of alcohol so that you retain your own judgement and ability to continue managing your party." One idea is to play tag team with your partner, "Couples often have, which one is going to be the designated driver, well, who's going to be the designated host." Lowes says having a plan for your Christmas party helps prevent any problems. If a guest is drunk, take away their keys and call them a cab.


An Indian employed with Britain's National Health Service (NHS) has been jailed for 18 months on charges of defrauding the service of thousands of pounds by exaggerating the number of women patients who went in for smear tests. Vinod Thapar, 62, was general practice manager with NHS. Thapar, of Cockfosters, north London regularly asked staff to falsify patients' medical records to show that women had received smear tests. The practice received extra money from the local primary care trust by claiming an exaggerated number of screenings, according to the Guardian.
"Changing the dates of smear tests meant screenings that may have detected cancer would have been delayed," Scotland Yard said. "Vinod Thapar's actions not only resulted in public finances being fraudulently obtained but they were also reckless with the health of the women whose records were falsified," said detective constable Grahame MacFarlane.
In October, Thapar pleaded guilty to four specimen charges of obtaining property by deception, costing the NHS 37,500 pounds. Police said it was impossible to estimate the total figure defrauded from the NHS. Thapar was also ordered by the court to pay 37,500 pounds compensation to a local Enfield and Haringey Primary Care trust on Friday.
The NHS was set up in 1948 and is the largest organisation in Europe. It is the 'public face' of the three publicly funded health care systems of Great Britain. The NHS provides the majority of healthcare in Britain, from general practitioners to accident and emergency departments, long-term healthcare and dentistry. It was founded in 1948 and has become an integral part of English society, culture and everyday life. It is recognised as one of the best health services in the world by the World Health Organisation.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006


Surrey: The city of Surrey yesterday passed a by law restricting construction of over-size houses in a residential area of Surrey. This area is around The Khalsa School on 69th avenue and 124th street. The city council held a meeting yesterday after the neigbourhood appealed to restrict construction of big houses in order to maintain the beauty and heritage of the area.
However, the Indo-Canadian community wasn't too happy with the decision. Big houses are usually built by Indo-Canadians, therefore, the decision was seen as one preventing Indo-Canadians from buying houses in the nighbourhood. A lot of community members even made it a discrimination issue.
Mayor Dianne Watts said that the decision has got nothing to do with trying to prevent Indo-Canadians from buying houses in the area. A group of people want to preserve the beauty and heritage of their neighbourhood and they have a right to do so, she added.
Precisely, these people have a right to preserve whatever they want. But, in my opinion, people have a right to build super duper houses, if they wish to. In whatever case, it should not be made a discrimination or racism issue. Lets move over racism and start looking at things from a different angle and a different perspective.


Businesses in Maple Ridge are being warned to keep their eyes open for a group of thieves. Two stores have been robbed in as many days.Police believe the group of 6 to 8 men and women enter the store together. While some distract store workers, others enter back areas and steal items such as cash and papers. One of the suspects is believed to be in her 40's, while the others are in their late teens or early 20's. All are thought to be Indo-Canadian.

Monday, December 4, 2006


Star Media Group, a division of Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd., has purchased the Burnaby-based publication, The Canadian Immigrant Magazine, the magazine’s publisher said today. Nick Noorani said Star Media Group will help launch the magazine nationally, with plans to print a Toronto edition in early 2007.
“For once, here’s a magazine born in Vancouver that is going to Toronto,” Noorani said. “I think it will be fabulous for us.” Noorani said he could not disclose the value of the deal. The Canadian Immigrant has a circulation of about 20,000 in the Lower Mainland. It carries articles about immigrant success stories, news and tips that help newcomers settle into Canada. Noorani and his wife Sabrina published the first edition of the magazine in April 2004, funding the publication through advertisement revenues and loans. (Van Sun)

Saturday, December 2, 2006


Indian and other Asian men with good or excellent English skills are less likely to have mental health problems than those with poorer English proficiency, according to a new study of immigrants to the US. Asian Americans in general have lower rates of psychiatric disorders than American-born Asians and other native-born Americans with English-language proficiency the main variable among men and birthplace the key factor for women.
Asian-American immigrant women were far less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, substance abuse or psychiatric disorder in their lifetime than were US-born women, according to this first national epidemiological survey of the community. "Compared to all Americans, Asian Americans had lower lifetime rates of any disorder," said David Takeuchi, a sociologist and University of Washington social work professor and lead author of the study published in the American Journal of Public Health.
"Roughly 48 percent of Americans will have some kind of a lifetime disorder. In our study, less than one in four Asian-American immigrants will have a disorder. However, that won't necessarily be the case for their children and grandchildren. If trends continue, rates for them will go up and that suggests that more investment is needed for prevention programmes. "The researchers used a questionnaire designed by the World Health Organisation to find out about incidents in the past year and lifetime of depression, anxiety, phobias, post traumatic stress disorder, substance and alcohol abuse and eating disorders.
The questionnaire was available in six languages, although nearly three-quarters of the interviews were conducted in English. The study also found that there were no significant differences among the main immigrant groups, the Chinese, Filipinos and Vietnamese. Asian immigrants who came as elementary school-age children have an easier time learning English than older children, but are more at risk to develop a substance abuse problem.
American-born women are twice as likely to have a depressive disorder than Asian-born women.Among men, those born elsewhere are less likely to have a substance abuse problem than Asian-American men born in the United States. The study also raised a number of questions that Takeuchi said the researchers want to look at in the future.
He said they would like to compare the circumstances of immigrants who voluntarily migrate and those who are refugees." Someone who is a voluntary immigrant doesn't typically suffer the severe trauma that a refugee who is fleeing persecution or war does." And because social relationships can enhance or deter social mobility, the researchers also want to examine how discrimination is associated with mental health among Asian Americans.
Other papers in the journal look at the mental health of Latino and Black Caribbean immigrants to the United States. In general, all of the papers suggest that immigrants have lower rates of mental disorders than native-born Americans.
Data from the Asian-American paper was drawn from the larger National Latino and Asian American Study. For this paper, the researchers interviewed nearly 2,100 native-born or immigrant Asian Americans who were 18 or older. Participants included 600 Chinese, 520 Vietnamese, 508 Filipinos and 467 other Asians including Japanese, Koreans and Asian Indians.

Friday, December 1, 2006


Toronto: A lawyer representing an Indo-Canadian police official, who has filed racial discrimination charges against the police department, has accused a senior Canadian police officer with interfering in the case. Toronto lawyer Peter Thorning has said that police superintendent Kevin Chalk of the city of Waterloo, in southwestern Ontario, had sent e-mails to police officers in connection with the racial discrimination charges that his client, constable Rajiv Sharma, had brought against the police department.
A report in The Record, a local newspaper, quoted Thorning as saying that the e-mails have undermined his client's ability to defend himself. In November 2004, Sharma, an 18-year-old veteran in the police force, had filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) alleging that he was a victim of persistent harassment and discrimination since 1992 within the force in Kitchener where he was posted. Asians, mostly Indo-Canadians, comprise less than three percent of Kitchener's population of over 400,000.
In February 2004, Sharma was charged with neglect of duty, discreditable conduct, insubordination, corrupt practices and engaging in secondary activities. Secondary activities refer to a person holding a second job. The charges against Sharma stem from his alleged involvement with a private security firm, according to the Record. In his complaint to the OHRC, Sharma accused a number of senior officers of discouraging other officers from working and socialising with him.
"I believe that not only are racial minority citizens profiled, but racial minority police officers are also subjected to this impermissible conduct," Sharma was quoted as stating in his nine-page complaint.Speaking to the Record, Thorning said that he was starting to interview Sharma's fellow officers when the first of Chalk's two e-mails was sent.
"I am not saying he (Chalk) is obstructing justice," Thorning said. "But he is obstructing a legal procedure. He has put up barriers to the finding of truth." The lawyer has lodged a complaint with the police force, the Waterloo regional police board and the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services, which oversees policing in Ontario.Sharma, who is currently on sick leave, is scheduled to appear for a disciplinary hearing on Jan 29.


Hindustan Times spoke to Anjangi after she was attacked in Russia. She is a student there.
Tell us about the attack on you?
Anjangi: It was April 19, just before Hitler’s birthday and people were afraid , something might happen. I was coming home after having dinner with my sister. Just as I was entering a darkened archway right in front of our hostel, I felt someone was following me. I started walking faster, but one boy suddenly rushed up behind me and pushed me down. A second one then came from the other side and slit my throat. It happened very fast. I tried to chase them, but realised that I was bleeding profusely I staggered into the . hostel, and fellow students called the ambulance. I then underwent an operation that saved my life.
The attack on your fellow student last Sunday was very similar, wasn’t it?
Anjangi: He just went out to buy bread around 8 pm. In the same archway where I was attacked, five boys wearing black headbands stabbed him seven times. He managed to get into the hostel. People tried to help him. But he died from an excessive blood loss.

What do you feel about the atmosphere for Indian students in Russia?
Anjangi: I want to say this to all the students in India who are thinking of coming to Russia: it is very dangerous. You get the highest quality education over here, but there is no security for foreigners. There is a lot of fascism, and it is growing. The Russian government is doing nothing about it. There is no guarantee of one’s life.


STS-116, the next Space Shuttle mission on the shuttle Discovery is scheduled to launch on December 7, 2006. What makes this launch special is Sunita Williams, Flight Engineer on the mission. Yet another Person of Indian Origin to be proud of.
Kalpana Chawla made Indians proud as being the first Indian woman in space. Her last shuttle mission, however, ended in a tragedy. Women of Indian origin whether born in or out of India are clearly doing a great job.
In addition to being on the Space Shuttle Mission STS-116 Sunita Williams will join Expedition 14 (already in progress) on the International Space Station. So she will soon be first person of Indian origin to actually live in Space.

Now, this leads me to a different debate altogether... I wonder whether India stands to gain by collaborating with the US in these space missions. India's first astronaut went to space with the help of the soviets. Should we try to send another via the US shuttle missions? Is there any value to such a collaboration?


A former Indian origin player of the Seychelles football team is among three candidates in the fray for the post of president of the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA). Suketu Patel, re-elected as chairman of the Seychelles Football Federation Wednesday, a post he has held since 1994, will face 1988 African Footballer of the Year and Zambian legend Kalusha Bwalya and Namibia High Court judge Petrus Damaseb in Saturday's election for the post of COSAFA president.
The election is being held after Botswana's Ismail Bhamjee stepped down from the post after being involved in a World Cup 2006 ticket sale scandal.Patel, 54, a former Seychellois goalkeeper, has also served in the executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF). He was also a member of the organising committee of FIFA world under-17 championships.Patel got a shot in the arm for his race to the COSAFA presidency with South Africa expressing its support for him.
"I have trust and faith in that man (Patel)," South Africa Football Association president Molefi Oliphant told the News 24 website."I sat with him on the CAF executive committee while he was the chairperson of the finance committee of CAF."COSAFA has to be strong and progress so we support the individual who we believe will push the region to a higher level," Oliphant was quoted as saying.
Zambia's Bwalya has also expressed confidence of winning the election.Now a businessman and TV analyst, Bwalya told BBC Sport: "With 25 years of playing the game which transcends across the globe, I have ensured all the stakeholders understand where I am coming from and what I am bringing."COSAFA is a powerful football body comprising countries in the southern Africa region.Its 13 members are Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique Namibia, South Africa, Seychelles, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


General JJ Singh became the mascot of the Sikh community when he took over the reins of the army last year. And now the Singhs are roaring out loud in Lion City, Singapore, making their presence felt in the island-nation's Armed Forces (SAF).
Ravinder Singh has become the first Sikh to rise to the rank of brigadier general and assume the command of a frontline formation - the 6th Singapore Division. This is one of the SAF's three Combined Arms Division that has elements of infantry, armour, artillery, combat engineers, signals and air defence artillery.
SAF's web publication cyberpioneer quotes Ravinder Singh as saying, "Having enjoyed the challenges my career has given me, this promotion is really the icing on the cake. Work hard, do your best, and the SAF will definitely reward you accordingly - with challenging duties and ample recognition."
The SAF has a career military force of about 20,000, supplemented by 30,000 personnel on active national service and almost three lakh reservists. The ethnicity in Singapore's population is sufficiently reflected in the armed forces, which account for almost 8-10 per cent soldiers of Indian origin.
Singh's leap into prominence only re-emphasises the contribution these soldiers have made to the SAF. Singapore's first defence adviser in India, Colonel Perdit Kumar Tiwari, is also of Indian origin.
The genius of a battery of officers who trace their roots to India is shining brightly in the SAF. Lieutenant Colonel Deep Singh, for instance, served as Singapore's first military consultant to the United Nations.
In 2003, Lieutenant Colonel Sukhvinder Singh Chopra led an SAF contingent to the Middle East, as part of Singapore's contribution to multinational reconstruction effort in Iraq. More recently, Lieutenant Colonel Jaspal Singh Sidhu was the 'Mother Goose' responsible for controlling the fighter aircraft display at the National Day Parade 2006.
It's evident that ethnic background does not matter in the SAF - there are equal opportunities for the Chinese, Malays and Indians.


London: An NRI senior executive is suing the Dutch bank ING for more than 100,000 pounds alleging that she has been a victim of racist remarks in the bank and that her career hit a 'glass ceiling' because of her race. Forty two-year-old Meena Sagoo alleged that not long after joining the bank her boss told her how the rest of the staff had likened her to a character in the popular BBC TV comedy, The Kumars At No 42 .
Sagoo who earns 80,000 pounds a year will claim at an employment tribunal that another Asian, Brij Bharati, was nicknamed Bindi Bhaji - an Indian dish of okra and spices - by boss Richard Mutter. According to a report in The Daily Mail on Friday, she further claimed that her white colleague Chris Taylor caused offence by repeatedly discussing the British Raj with her. And she said other Asian and black members of staff were subjected to racist remarks following the September 11 attacks in America. She is bringing an employment tribunal claim for race discrimination and victimization against ING Services Limited.
The bank and Mutter, a managing director, strongly deny all her allegations. The case is due to be heard in February. British born and of Indian descent, Miss Sagoo from Hounslow, West London, joined ING's London Wall offices in the city in 2002 and became a vice-president a year later. She worked in an IT department developing computer systems for the bank's human resources team.


Kuala Lumpur: A 100-year-old Hindu temple in Malaysia has been demolished following a court order. The deities will move to a new site provided by the authorities. Contractors appointed by the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) bulldozed the Sri Muthu Mariamman temple Thursday at Skudia in Johor in southern Malaysia after a court order Tuesday seeking vacation of the temple premises, reported the New Straits Times Friday.
The temple was situated at the Uniroyal Linden Estate, a rubber plantation that was home to around 1,000 families. UTM, a public university with its main campus in Skudai, had first made claims on the plantation in 1992. Prior to that, in 1975, Malaysia's education ministry had bought off the plantation land for UTM.
Since 1992, there have been various attempts to save the temple. Help was sought from the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), the premier political party representing the Indian community in Malaysia, and the Johor state government. Ethnic Indians, mostly Hindus, comprise around eight percent of Malaysia's total population of around 24 million.
The New Straits Times report quoted temple president A. Subramaniam as saying that his family had been looking after the temple for three generations."Soon after the sale of the plantation land to UTM in 1975, most menfolk lost their jobs and subsequently in 1987 UTM asked us to move out of our quarters," he told the newspaper.
"We were lucky to obtain low-cost houses through MIC."Temple authorities are planning to move the deities to another location provided by the Johor state government.A UTM lawyer told the dialy on condition of anonymity that the demolition process was carried out smoothly and there were no protests or demonstrations.Meanwhile, Malaysian Hindu Sangam president A. Vaithilingam has condemned the demolition. "While it is true the education ministry acquired the land for UTM, the authorities should have been fully aware that the old temple existed there," he said in a statement.


Two Indian restaurants in New Zealand were targets of vandalism and arson last week, but its owners have ruled out racism as the motive. Sunny Grewal, who, along with his two brothers run the Pankawalla and India Today restaurants in New Plymouth, said that in all his years in New Zealand he had never faced the problem of racism.
"We have been six years in New Plymouth, and seven-and-a-half years in New Zealand, and I think not even once has there been any problem here," Grewal told the Taranaki Daily News. A fire at the Pankawalla restaurant last Sunday morning caused damages to the tune of NZ$200,000.
The owners also found cash and other items missing from the restaurant after the incident. Vandals also targeted the India Today restaurant at around the same time.Grewal also expressed his gratitude to the people of New Plymouth for their support after the incident, adding that he couldn't have expected this in Australia, where the three brothers had grown up.
The main city in the Taranaki region of New Zealand's North Island, New Plymouth, has a population of less than 50,000. Asians, including ethnic Indians, comprise less than two percent of the city's population."I've had phone calls from people we don't even know," Grewal told the newspaper. "I don't think it's racist at all - but maybe it's something we don't know."
The brothers' partner, Depak Ahluwalia, said the Grewals are very upset."They have put their heart and soul into it (the restaurants)," the Daily News report quoted him as saying.Insurance assessor Andrew Brooke said that work on rebuilding the Pankawalla would be carried out as quickly as possible with the resources available.
"We've made some inquiries today and there are people willing to help us. A surprising number of people have stuck their heads in the door to offer help," he said.Meanwhile, New Plymouth police said that investigations into the incidents are still at an early stage.