UK INDIANS PAY TRIBUTE TO JO COX
Life in the usually bustling Southall junction of Broadway and Lady Margaret Road paused recently on the 23rd June, as Indian community leaders and others came together to pay tribute to Labour MP Jo Cox, who was murdered in her constituency on 16th June. Virendra Sharma, senior Labour MP from Ealing South since 2007, led the tributes that saw people from various religions and countries of origin laying flowers and paying their respect before a portrait of Cox. Sharma recalled Cox’s now famous words during her maiden speech in the House of Commons about there being “more in common” among people of various communities than that which divides them, and said Southall’s diversity reflected her values. “She was doing her job in her constituency when she was killed. We have a lost a star in parliament. Our heart goes out to her children and family. But we can continue to keep her alive by adhering to her values,” Sharma said. Southall in west London with its large community of Indian origin has been a Labour stronghold. Onkar Sahota of the Greater London Assembly spoke on behalf of London mayor Sadiq Khan and said Cox won the hearts of the nation and beyond. “We in the Indian community will continue to be inspired by her,” said Harsev Bains, chairman of South all Community Alliance. The Southall event was part of a series of events held in London, Cox’s constituency in west Yorkshire and abroad on 23rd June. Several friends and colleagues of the late MP recalled her life and work, besides Pakistani education icon, Malala Yusufzai.
ASIANS REMAIN FASTEST GROWING RACIAL GROUP IN US
Asians, including Indian-Americans, remain the fastest growing racial group in the United States, according to new census figures for 2015 released on 23rd June 2016. There are 21 million Asians now, growing by 3.4% over 2014. The number of Indian-Americans among them was not available for 2015 — there were 3.1 million in 2014. Asians have been the fastest growing race group since about 2000, and the main driving force is international migration, says Sam Garrow, a Census Department demographer. China has been the top sender of immigrants to the US since displacing Mexico in 2013. California has the largest population of Asians with 6.5 million. The population of whites, the largest racial group who clocked in at 255 million, grew at the slowest rate of 0.5%. Hispanics, the second largest group at 56.6 million, grew by 1.2%. There are an additional 11 million people of Hispanic origin who are in the US illegally and whose future is the focus of a contentious political fight over immigration. Democrats are largely in favour of legalising their status if they fulfil certain conditions. Republicans by and large are opposed to it, and Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has vowed to construct a wall along the border with Mexico to prevent illegal immigration. African Americans, who comprise the third largest portion of the US population at 46.3 million, grew by 1.3%. New York State has the largest population of blacks, at 3.8 million.
NISAU UK BESTOWS HONORARY FELLOWSHIP ON SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR
The National Indian Students and Alumni Union UK (NISAU) have awarded its Honorary Fellowship to His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar during his recent trip to the UK. The event in Leicester was attended by over 1500 people. Honorary Fellowship of the National Indian Students and Alumni Union is the highest honour that can be bestowed onto a non-member by the Union. The individual will have made significant and long lasting contributions to India, Indian Culture and/or the welfare of Indian youth in the UK, or elsewhere. It is awarded in recognition of, but is not limited to distinction in the arts, literature, science, business or public life; or exceptional service to NISAU. With NISAU striving for the betterment of the society and working towards development and change, the organisation is proud to honour Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for his immense contribution to furthering world peace & working towards a violence-free society, for his social and cultural contributions to India and for furthering Yoga, Meditation and Spiritual Studies in a global context. Miss Sanam Arora, President of NISAU commented: “The need to really imbibe in ourselves that it is humanity first is more important today than ever before. Sri Sri’s teachings resonate deeply with us as the youth of today who find ourselves at interesting crossroads between Science and Spirituality. At NISAU one of our key aims is to further amongst Indian youth residents in the UK the feelings of compassion, Vasudheva Kutumbakam (The World is a Family) and Satyamev Jayate (Truth Alone Prevails). We recognise Sri Sri’s outstanding global contributions based on these very principles and hope to further these amongst the youth under his guidance”
APP TO CONNECT INDIAN EXPATRIATES IN DUBAI
Millions of Indian expatriates in Dubai and Northern Emirates will soon be able to fix appointments with Indian consular officials through a revamped mobile app. This news was published in the Gulf News. The app is set to be unveiled on the sidelines of 67th Indian Republic Day celebrations. The Indian Consulate in Dubai had launched a mobile app named “CGI Dubai” last year during the 146th birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, on October 2. Anurag Bhushan, the Consul-General of India for Dubai and Northern Emirates, said the mission has scrapped the “passive” first version and is re-launching it. It will now have facilities for taking appointments with consulate officials for visa or passport services.”The app has been received well. But we want to make it more sophisticated,” he said. The SOS feature would remain as a highlight through which workers in distress can seek help through a free call. The call will connect any Indian in distress to the 24×7 helpline of the Indian Workers Resource Centre that will address the issue. The new version will have geo-tagging facility and the beta version will be made available by the Indian Republic Day. It may be recalled that Indian expatriates have a massive presence in all the parts of UAE. They are doing yeoman service there.
INDIANS INVEST Dh. 20 BILLION IN DUBAI PROPERTY
Indians are buying property in Dubai in a big way. They topped the list of non-Arab foreign investors in Dubai property, with more than Dh. 20 billion of purchases in 2015. They were followed by UK citizens who spent Dh. 10 billion in 2015, the Dubai Land Department (DLD) said in its annual report. Khaleej Times has published this news. Investment from non-Arab expats surpassed Dh. 74 billion in 2015. The number of overseas non-Emirati investors grew to 56,000 – a 33 percent increase over 41,475 investors reported in 2014. Overseas buyers committed Dh. 135 billion to real estate purchases in Dubai in 2015, up 24 percent from Dh. 109 billion reported in 2014. Investments by GCC nationals stood at Dh. 44 billion in 2015, up from Dh. 32 billion in 2014. Of this, Emiratis accounted for Dh. 26.1 billion. Investment by Saudi nationals jumped 73 percent to Dh. 9 billion, compared to Dh. 5.2 billion in 2014, with the number of investors up 86 percent to 3,259 (2,745 in 2014). Non-Gulf Arabs also increased their investment by a third to Dh. 16 billion, with Jordanians topping the list (1,516 investors purchased Dh. 3.5 billion worth of properties), followed by Egyptians. Sultan Butti bin Mejren, the director-general of the DLD, said Dubai enjoys an extremely high degree of acceptance from international investors because of its attributes and return on investment. Bin Mejren said investments by Gulf nationals protect Dubai’s property market from seasonal fluctuations. Meanwhile, a New Delhi based Real-Estate expert and one of India’s leading architects Deepak Mehta says that Dubai is a very popular destination among Indians to buy properties. In West Asia, Dubai is preferred due to accessibility. Distance is a deterrent in case of the US. However, the US is preferred by Indians who have spent some time studying and working there. Indians prefer Dubai due to proximity and also due to the fact that it is a great place to do business. A two-bedroom apartment there can cost US$ 400,000 or INR 2 Cr.
INDIA-BORN DEPUTY FOR LONDON MAYOR
London Mayor Sadiq Khan on the 29th of June has appointed Indore-born Rajesh Agrawal as his Deputy Mayor for business, to boost the city’s interests following the EU referendum. Khan has tasked Agrawal, who arrived in Britain in 2001 and succeeded in growing a two-person business into a multi-million pound UK enterprise, with championing London’s interests and protecting jobs and growth. Agrawal is the founder and CEO of Xendpay, an global money transfer service, and RationalFX, an online foreign exchange service. Born and brought up in Indore, his story of how he managed to develop his enterprise from a small office into a huge business with offices in UK, France and Spain is grist for another windmill.
SUNDER PICHAI TO GET GREAT IMMIGRANTS AWARD
Four Indian-Americans, including Google CEO Sunder Pichai, are among 42 US nationals to be honoured with this year’s prestigious “Great Immigrants: The Pride of America“ award for their inspiring professional accomplishments. The other three are Hari Sreenivasan of PBS NewsHour, Vikram Malhotra, Chairman of the Americas, McKinsey & Company and Bharati Mukherjee, National Book Critics Circle Award winning author.
SIKH MAN SAVES DROWNING GIRL USING TURBAN
A quick-thinking Sikh man is being hailed as a hero in Canada after he saved a girl from drowning by using his turban to pull her out of a frigid river. Avtar Hothi, a farmer from Kamloops, British Columbia, used his turban to save the teen who had fallen into the cold waters of North Thompson River close to his farm. Hothi, 65, and his son Paul were working at their family farm in Heffley Creek, just north of Kamloops, on 25th June when they heard cries for help. They rushed to the riverbank to see the girl struggling to stay afloat in the strong current. “We were trying to look around for branches, and he just sprung to action, took off his turban right away, threw it in the water and pulled her to shore,” Paul told Canadian media.h
IIT-Kgp alumnus gifts $11m to UCLA
Even accounting for the surfeit of rags-to-riches, anonymity-to-fame stories that is part of the Coming-to-America immigrant narrative, Mani Bhaumik’s saga is quite extraordinary.
Receiving a PhD itself -the first at the IIT in Kharagpur in 1958 -was a quantum leap of faith into physics. But when the boy from rural West Bengal who didn’t own a pair of shoes until he was 16 and walked four miles to school and back in his bare feet arrived at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) on a Sloan Fellowship with $3 in his pocket, he thought he’d died and gone to heaven. “Everyone was treated equally , not like back at home where the poor were treated like dirt,“ Bhaumik said on 29th June, without forgetting the astonishing kindness of the same impoverished people in Midnapore’s Seuri village who raised money for his airfare to America. After returning their generosity with a foundation that has funded the university education of scores of underprivileged and meritorious students, and pledging $150 million to his IIT alma mater, the Indian-American physicist this week turned his benevolence to the US University that advanced his life. The result: A $11 million gift to establish a centre devoted to advancing knowledge of the basic laws of nature, the largest donation in the history of both UCLA’s department of physics and astronomy. Coming just weeks after Mainak Sarkar, another more recent doctoral student from IIT-Kharagpur, had brought infamy to the institution by murdering his professor, Bhaumik’s magnanimity comes as a soothing balm to a UCLA that is still recovering from the shock. “I thank Mani Bhaumik for his philanthropic leadership and for believing in UCLA,“ said UCLA chancellor Gene Block, who is overseeing the $4.2 billion UCLA Centennial Campaign, which is scheduled to conclude in December 2019 during university’s 100th anniversary year.And from Joseph Rudnick, dean of the physical sciences division: “It is through extraordinary gifts like this that the next big leaps will be made in science,“ in what will be called the Mani L Bhaumik Institute for Theoretical Physics. Those leaps are what Bhaumik has been making from the time he graduated with the great Satyendra Nath Bose as his advisor. A theoretical physicist whose PhD thesis dealt with Resonant Electronic Energy Transfers, Bhaumik joined Xerox Electro-Optical Systems in 1961as a laser scientist. He later served as director of the laser technology laboratory at Northrop announcing in 1973 the conclusive demonstration of the world’s first efficient excimer laser, a form of ultraviolet laser now commonly used for high-precision machining and for cutting biological tissue cleanly without damaging surrounding tissue. Reconciling science and spirituality, including understanding the origin and the nature of consciousness, has been part of his more recent quest. Author of several books, including `Code Name God’ and `The Cosmic Detective,’ Bhaumik believes the two areas are complementary and modern physics can be reconciled with the great truths of the world religions. But funding for studies in the subject is sparse. “It’s very difficult to raise funds for this area, because people don’t understand what theoretical physicists do, “he says, explaining his donation. “But physics holds the answers to the most fundamental questions of our very existence, “he adds.