JAI SHREE RAM
1. FESTIVALS: Sharad Purnima, Kojaagari Purnima or Kumar Purnima is a harvest festival celebrated on Ashwin Poornima, October 18 this year. It marks the end of monsoon. At night, goddess Lakshmi is worshiped and night vigil is observed. It is also believed that on this day as moon and the earth are very close to each other, the moon rays have certain healing properties of nourishing the body and the soul.
The festival is celebrated in most parts of Bharat under various names and traditions viz by remaining awake in the night - Kojagiri ( Ko jagarti – ‘Who is awake?’) in Maharashtra, playing Garba in Gujarat, Lokkhi Pujo in Bengal, Kojagraha in Maithili region, Kumar Poornima in Odisha etc. At all places, payasam or kheer is made for bhog and then distributed as Prasad.
2. DHARMA AND YOGA FESTIVALS IN USA: Last fortnight saw what may be the first of its kind events at many places in USA including Bay area, Los Angels, Dallas, New Jersey as thousands of people poured into Dharma and Yoga Festivals to celebrate Universal Peace on Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary. The event at Santa Clara drew over 10000 people, 5000 at Alameda County Fair Ground in Pleasanton and similar at other places.
The Dharma and Yoga Fest events, organized by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh in association with other Hindu organizations, were culmination events of year-long celebration of Swami Vivekananda birth anniversary which included Dharma Bee Competition for Children. Day long activities included in the festival were several parallel tracks based on four Yogas – namely Rajayoga, Bhaktiyoga, Karmayoga, Jnanayoga and Youth Fest, Hindu Theme Park, Hindu Experience and Cultural Performances etc. The guest speaker at Pleasanton was Democratic Congresswomen Tulsi Gabbard representing Hawaii. She focused on the teachings of Hinduism and how it helped her combat tough times. Renowned speakers like Counsul General of Bharat Parthasarathy, Prof. Ved Nanda, Swami Palaniswami and Senthil Swami from Kuwai Ashram, Yoga Acharya NV Raghuram, TED speaker Nipun Mehta, Swami Tattwamayananda of Vedanta Society etc, spoke at various events.
3. DR. MOHAN BHAGWAT JOINS BHARAT PARIKRAMA YATRA IN SIKAR: Former RSS Akhil Bharatiya Sewa Pramukh Shri Sitaram Kedilaya Bharat Parikrama Yatra entered Haryana on September 24 and it will be in the State till October 26 i.e. for a period of 33 days. On October 27 the yatra will enter Punjab.
RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat joined the yatra on September 8 in Seekar district of Rajasthan. Shri Bhagwat echoed the aims and concept of the Yatra, which is aiming to uplift the rural Bharatiya life. Shri Bhagwat stressed on conservation of water, soil, cow and all forms natural resources. He also wished Shri Kedilaya for the successful completion of the yatra. This is the second visit of Sarsanghachalak Shri Bhagwat, who had earlier joined the yatra in January this year at Dadra Nagar Haveli on Maharashtra – Gujrat border.
4. SEWA PRAMUKH SUHAS HIREMATH VISITS UTTARAKHAND: RSS Akhil Bharatiya Sewa Pramukh Shri Suhas Hiremath visited flood hitted Uttarakhand on September 3 to supervise and apprise personally the relief work being done by RSS under the banner of Uttaranchal Daivi Apada Peedit Sahayata Samiti (UDAPSS).
In the second phase of the rehabilitation programme UDAPSS, has undertaken various programmes mainly in the field of education, health and self employment besides distribution of essential consumable goods. .
Till date three hostels at Guptakashi, Koticolony and Dehradun have been started accommodating 92 students from class 6 to Graduation. Their boarding, lodging, education and clothing are free. Three primary medical centres have been started at Narayankoti, Nagjagai and Anderwari village of Ukhimath Tehsil where from free medical aids are being provided to the villagers of disaster affected area.
For self employment of women, 3 ladies sewing training centre at Triyuginaryan, Chandrapuri, and Dadoli village of Ukhimath Tehsil have been inaugurated. Shri Hiremath visited all the three hostels, talked to students, addressed workers meeting at Guptakashi and gave various instructions to the activists. He also visited some of the worst affected spots and met some families affected during the disaster.
5. MATA AMRITANANDAMAYI’S BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS AT KOLLAM: RSS Sarakaryavah Bhaiyyaji Joshi attended Poojaneeya Mata Amritanandamayi’s Birthday Celebrations at Amritapuri Kollam of Kerala on September 26.
Along with RSS General Secretary, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, RSS Veteran thinker B P.parameswaran, were present as Chief guests.
Noted columnist S.Gurumurthy, Scientist Vijay bhatkar, spiritual leader of Kerala Christian community Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar Thoma also attended the event and shared the dais with Amma. Thousands of wellwishers participated in the ceremony. Amma received huge number of greetings from all over the world through Social Media too.
Modi praised the noble initiatives of community service being done by Mata Amritanandamayi. P Parameshwaran, the President of Vivekananda Kendra delivered an inspiring address.
6. KENYA ATTACK VICTIMS MOURNED: In a dastardly terrorist attack on Westgate Mall at Nairobi – Kenya, 72 people lost their lives. The victims, both deceased and injured included all cross sections including Kenyans, foreigners, ladies, children, Hindus and other faiths. Several prominent personalities and organizations from Bharat and abroad condoled these deaths. RSS Sarsanghchalak Dr. Mohan Bhagwat wrote a letter to karyakartas in Kenya, saying “We were deeply shocked and apprehensive when we heard the news of the Nairobi carnage. The updates received here unfortunately confirm our worst fears. While we condemn the dastardly attack on the innocents we pay our heartfelt condolences to all the families of the victims. We also laud the courage and the unity of the citizens of Nairobi, the dedication and service of all including our workers presently engaged in relief and the promptness in action the Kenyan government and officials. Please convey my personal condolences to families of affected swayamsevaks and sevikas. Though an ocean apart from you all, we are with you together to face the challenge squarely and with all it takes. My homage to all those who lost their lives in this cruel attack.”
7. SACRIFICE AND VALOUR OF HAIFA MARTYRS SHOULD NOT BE FORGOTTEN: GEN JACOB: A unique kind of programme was held on 23rd September at Judah Hyam Synagogue, a Jewish place of worship in New Delhi. Indo-Israel Friendship Forum and Human Rights Defence India jointly organised a function to commemorate the Bharatiya soldiers who fought in the World War I to save the city of Haifa. Bangladesh War Hero General J R F Jacob, who comes from a family of Baghdadi Jews, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest and His Excellency Alon Ushpiz, Ambassador of Israel in Bharat, who hails from Haifa, was Guest of honour.
After a Jewish prayer, General Jacob said that in the Palestine campaign, 15th Imperial service Cavalry Brigade which comprised of Mysor Lancers, Jodhpur Lancers and Hyderabad Lancers, made a supreme sacrifice which can never be forgotten.
The expert on military history Squadron Leader Rana Tej Pratap Singh Chhina, Secretary, USI-CAFHR exemplified various events to explain the watershed events with memoirs written by a soldier.
Shri Ravi Iyer of Indo-Israel Friendship Forum, Shri Rajesh Gogna, Secretary General of HRDI and Mr Ezekiel Isaac Malekar of Judah Hyam Synagogue also spoke at the occasion.
8. AJMER BLAST ACCUSED ALLEGES SHINDE, OTHERS PRESSURIZED HIM TO NAME RSS LEADERS: A 2007 Ajmer dargah blast accused Bhavesh Patel has blamed top Congress leaders, including Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Digvijay Singh, for pressurizing him to name RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and his aide, Indresh Kumar, in the case.
Bhavesh Patel has written to a special NIA court here and demanded a judicial inquiry into the matter.
"I was asked to name Bhagwat and Kumar before the court. They promised me to pay Rs 5 lakh and my release from jail within one month. Even NIA officer Vishal Garg met me in Jaipur and asked me to name the RSS leaders," wrote Patel, who was arrested in March. He said he has not named the two despite threats.
9. KEDARNATH TREK ROUTE RESTORED: The Roads Ministry has completed the restoration work on the pedestrian route to Kedarnath but the yatra is expected to start only next year.
The Ministry claims to have repaired the 14-km trek route connecting Gaurikund to Rambara to Kedarnath which suffered the worst damage in the flash floods that hit the region on June 16 to 17, leading to widespread devastation.
“The prayers have resumed in the temple, but the yatra will take at least another season to start. Our primary aim was to open up the pedestrian channels so as to resume connectivity and now we are working on our second and third phase of motorable road development simultaneously,” said a senior official from Ministry of Roads Transport and Highways (MoRTH).
“Construction of motorable roads may take anywhere between two to three years. The recent calamity has taught us several lessons, so this time, when building the roads several other factors like terrain, slopes and other risk elements have to be factored in,” said the official.
10. MUMBAI WORLD’S SECOND MOST HONEST CITY: Bharat often finds itself embarrassingly high on the corruption index, rating among the most corrupt countries in the world. However, in a recent experiment, the country's commercial capital Mumbai presented a different picture. An average Mumbaikar returned nine out of 12 wallets he or she found lying on the road, each carrying Rs 3,000 in cash - not a small amount. The experiment was carried out in 16 cities across four continents with 192 lost wallets, dropped in crowded places like shopping malls, sidewalks and parks in cities as diverse as New York and Zurich. Each of the wallets contained a cell phone number, business cards and a family photo.
Those carrying out the experiment waited to see how many people from each of these places call back to return the wallet. Outside Bharat, the wallet contained $50 or its equivalent in local currency. The experiment saw around 47% - or nearly half of the wallets being returned. Finnish capital city of Helsinki topped the list of honest cities returning 11 of the 12 wallets.
11. MYANMAR'S AUNG SAN SUU KYI MEETS DALAI LAMA, RISKING CHINA'S IRE: Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has risked prompting Chinese anger after it was confirmed she had a private meeting with the Dalai Lama on the sidelines of a Prague rights conference, its spokesman said on September 16.
"They met on Sunday at the Dalai Lama's lecture," Mr Filip Sebek, spokesman for the Forum 2000 foundation that organises the conference, told AFP, specifying that the two Nobel Peace laureates met in private.
12. SYMPOSIUM ON FORCED LABOUR IN INDIA AND THEIR LIVING HELL BY HRDI: Human Rights Defense India (HRDI) organised a symposium in Delhi on “Forced Labour in India and their Living Hell” on September 14. Ravindra Bhat of Delhi High Court in his keynote address reminded the audience of the poignant reality of two Bharat existing side by side where a large section of the society barely manages to survive.
Other panelists were Member of Law Commission of Bharat R Venkatramani, National Project Manager of International Labour Organisation, Sushri Bharti Birla, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh national President Saji Narayanan, AK Parashar from National Human Rights Commission and HRDI secretary general Adv Rajesh Gogna, Swami SARV Chaturvedi, the chairperson of Ramanujan Trust, Chennai also blessed the occasion.
13. BHARAT HAS HUGE HUMAN CAPITAL POTENTIAL: TCS CHIEF: It would be wise to be bullish on the Bharatiya economy as the country has huge potential in its human capital, chief executive officer of Tata Consultancy Services N Chandrasekaran has said.
"Our fundamental strength for the next decades is the talent that we have. Huge working population will make critical contributions in various sectors," Chandrasekaran said at the 4th National Finance Conclave held at KIIT University's School of Management in Bhubaneswar on September 21.
Highlighting the positive side, he said domestic industries have grown phenomenally in the last 20 years and contributed significantly in terms of the country's exports which at present stands at $85 billion, he said.
14. KARNATAKA MINISTER, STAFF JUMP INTO LAKE, SAVE 6 IN SINKING CAR: At a time when politicians are a vilified lot, a 61-year-old Karnataka minister became a hero on September 17 morning by jumping into a cold lake along with his guards and saving a family of six trapped in a sinking car. Primary and secondary education minister Kimmane Ratnakar was travelling in his official Innova to Bangalore when he spotted the sinking car and ordered his convoy to stop. Kimmane, his gunman Halswamy, driver Chandrashekar and escort vehicle driver Krishnamurthy jumped into the water. The four men swam to the sinking car, opened the jammed doors and brought the 6 occupants of the car safely on shore. "I don't know how to thank Minister Kimmane Ratnakar. It's because of his efforts that we are alive “said Uday, the head of the family.
15. DOLLAR MILLIONAIRES: BHARAT IS NO. 2 IN ASIA-PACIFIC: Bharat and Hong Kong experienced the most significant gains in wealth of high net worth individuals (HNWI) in 2012, the Asia Pacific Wealth Report 2013, published by Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management. Bharat’s HNWI population grew by 22.2% to 153,000 and their wealth by 23.4%, while Hong Kong’s grew by 37.2% in 2012. The HNWI population in Asia-Pacific grew by 9.4% to reach 3.68 million. HNWIs are defined as people with investible assets of $1million or more, excluding primary residence, collectibles, consumables and consumer durables.
16. RATAN TATA ON BOARD OF US THINK TANK: Former Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata has been nominated as a member of the board of trustees of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an American think tank. “Ratan has an unparalleled knowledge of the global economy, as well as the business sector in one of the world's most important emerging economies," said Harvey V Fineberg, chairman of the board.
Fineberg expressed hope that having Tata on their board of trustees would be an asset for Carnegie in developing it as "the truly global think tank" and would also be helpful in establishing Carnegie's new South Asia Centre in New Delhi. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the oldest think tank in the United States, was established in 1910.
17. WILL IMPLEMENT VOTERS' RIGHT TO REJECT CANDIDATES - EC: The Election Commission on September 27 said it would straight away implement the Supreme Court judgment directing it to provide a "None of the Above" button on electronic voting machines (EVMs). The button can be pressed by a voter to reject all the candidates in a poll in case he finds them unsuitable.
"The EC welcomes the Supreme Court order, which has upheld its long-pending proposal in this regard. It will help maintain the secrecy of ballot for those who want to record a negative/neutral vote on the EVM," a senior EC functionary told. The functionary added that the 'None of the Above' (NOTA) option will be displayed on EVMs in all future elections, the first being the assembly polls to five states due in November.
18. BHARAT UPS ANTE, FLIES SORTIES ALONG LAC: The Bharatiya Air Force is pressing ahead with a plan to intensify its operations in the sensitive Ladakh sector, with special-mission planes being landed every week at the world’s highest military airstrip located at Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO), despite resistance from China.
Sources said the IAF’s C-130J ‘Super Hercules’ aircraft, configured for special operations and airborne assault, have carried out at least five landings at the 16,614-foot DBO airstrip since August 20 — when the US-built plane first landed there. The airstrip is located barely 8km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which has been the scene of a string of Chinese incursions that have caused friction between the two Asian giants.
19. STEADY RISE IN INTER-CASTE MARRIAGES INVOLVING DALITS: Maharashtra has notched a four-fold increase in inter-caste marriages involving dalits, a figure that points to liberalizing social values if not a radical makeover. The growing inter-caste marriages in Maharashtra tie in with the jump in national figure where the number of people tying the knot with dalits is constantly going up touching 9,623 in 2012 from 7617 in 2011 and 7148 in 2010.
Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala appear to be the top examples in the phenomenon long suggested by social reformers as the best tool to weaken the barriers of caste segregation.
To encourage the trend, the Centre pays up to Rs 50,000 to each inter-caste couple that has one spouse as dalit. Maharashtra seems to be ahead in taking to the liberal tradition, with 2,296 marriages between dalits and non-dalits in 2012.
20. FIRST IN BHARAT: DOCTOR USES GOOGLE GLASS IN SURGERY: In a first in Bharat, Chennai-based Dr JS Rajkumar, laparoscopy surgeon and chairman of Lifeline Hospital operated upon two persons wearing a pair of Google glass, allowing people across the globe to see the procedure live. He became the second surgeon in the world to operate using the cable-less device on September 17. The two surgeries in the Chennai hospital were performed on a 43-year-old man for severe heart burn and on a 46-year-old woman for surgical hernia, developed after undergoing a bariatric surgery.
21. IIT-KANPUR CREATES PRESENCE IN NEW YORK: IIT-Kanpur has extended its view to foreign shores in its quest for qualified and capable faculty. They have set up an office on 62, William Street, New York on lease for the next five years. Alumnus Sanjeev Khosla has been appointed the overseas brand ambassador for the next three years, working as a link between IIT-K, the alumni and foreign educational institutions.
IT-Kanpur Director Indranil Manna stated that the office will also try to gather funds through the alumni that are based there. The faculty can thus get directly connected to IIT Kanpur.
22. TATAS AMONG ASIA’S TOP 10 COMPANIES FOR TRAINING LEADERS: The Tata Group is the only Bharat-headquartered company to have found a place among Asia’s top 10 companies for training leaders.
This year company has moved up one place against last year and now ranks fourth among Asia’s 10 best companies for leadership, found the annual best companies for leadership study conducted by global management consultancy firm Hay Group. Samsung topped the Asia list followed by Toyota, Unilever, Tata and Petronas. Others in the top 10 in Asia include General Electric, IBM, Sony, Coca-Cola and DHL International. Globally, this year, Procter & Gamble topped the list, followed by Microsoft, General Electric and Coca-Cola.
23. YOGA GETTING POPULAR IN UZBEKISTAN: Yoga is gaining popularity among the local people in Uzbekistan who regard it not as a physical exercise only but have accepted it as a way of life. The Indian Cultural Centre in Uzbekistan established in 1995 and renamed as Lal Bahadur Shastri Centre for Bharatiya Culture in 2005, organises regular yoga classes in its premises in Uzbekistan. “Yoga is getting very popular among the local people. Considering the number of people practicing yoga at our centre regularly and those queuing to be enrolled for the classes, one can easily see how popular yoga is,” says the center’s director Rajesh Mehta.
24. YOGA TRANSFORMS LIVES OF 13 FOREIGN DRUG ADDICTS: A group of 15 foreigners, including a Yoga tutor and a nurse hailing from four different nations US, Norway, South Africa and Mexico are currently at Pandeshwara in Sastan, near Udupi to undergo "Karma Yoga" at Ramakrishna Manjar House.
These foreigners were once drug addicts, but after adopting Yoga they have transformed themselves into better citizens, and as a gesture of gratefulness for changing their lives through "Indian art of Yoga", they are here to give back to the Bharatiya community by engaging themselves in some social service work.
25. VIPASSANA GURU S N GOENKA DIES: Renowned spiritual leader and Vipassana guru Satya Narayan Goenka died due to old age on September 29 night in Mumbai. He was 89. Born on January 30, 1924, in Burma (now Myanmar), Goenka learnt Vipassana, a meditation technique, there from Sayagyi U Ba Khin, an acclaimed teacher and administrator. He later moved to Bharat and made the technique popular worldwide through a non-sectarian movement.
Goenka, who was conferred the Padma Bhushan for social work last year, started teaching meditation to the public in Bharat in 1969. In 1976, he set up the Vipassana International Academy — also known as Dhamma Giri — in Igatpuri, about 200 km from Nashik district.
26. HINDU MANDIR EXECUTIVES' CONFERENCE AT ONTARIO: Over 250 adult and youth delegates representing over 85 Mandirs and Hindu organizations, from across the world, attended the 8th annual Hindu Mandir Executives' Conference (HMEC) in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada on September 22-23. The meet was co-hosted by a record 44 Hindu temples and Hindu organizations from across Canada and USA.
The conference was inaugurated by Pujya Dada Vasvani who talked about being proud of our rich Hindu heritage. Several prominent Hindu Dharmacharyas addressed the conference on video conference like Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Sri Sri Ravishakarji, Dr. Pranav Pandya and spoke about propagation of scientific aspects of Hindu rituals and practices and the role of the mandirs. Editor of Hinduism Today, Paramacharya Palaniswami and Swami Parmeshananda of Bharat Seva Ashram also addressed the conference.
27. WORLD'S FIRST SRI CHAITANYA MUSEUM TO BE READY IN 42 MONTHS: Work on the world's first museum devoted to Hindu saint Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, foundation of which was laid by Rashtrapati Pranab Mukherjee September 16 in Kolkata , will begin next month and be completed in three and a half years, the Gaudiya Mission said. The four-storeyed museum building with a floor space of 1,320 square meters is coming up on a 15-acre plot set aside at Baghbazar in north Kolkata.
28. BHARATIYAS, CHINESE KEEP US B-SCHOOLS IN BUSINESS: Young graduates from Bharat and China are powering the growth of full-time MBA programmes worldwide. In contrast, the share of working people planning to pursue an MBA—through online, executive or part-time mode—is plummeting.
These trends emerged in the latest survey of 328 graduate B-schools in 42 countries by Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which conducts the GMAT. It shows 31% MBA programmes worldwide received the 2nd largest number of applications from Bharat. US B-schools continue to be popular destinations for aspirants from China and Bharat with overall growth is largely driven by male candidates.
29. APPEAL FOR PHOTOS/INFO ABOUT LATE RAJJU BHAIYYA: Keshav Srishti, Mumbai is in the process of publishing a biography of 4th Sarasanghachalak of RSS, Prof. Rajendra Singh ji - Rajju Bhaiyya. Keshav Srishti, Mumbai has appealed to send any good real life incidents with Rajjubhayya. Such articles/Photo/Any news item in English or Hindi can be sent to Ratan Sharda, Editor- Compiler Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
30. SENIOR RSS PRACHARAK DR. BAWEJA PASSED AWAY IN ACCIDENT: Uttar Kshethra’s Pracharak Pramukh Dr. Krishna Kumar Baveja met with a road accident on September 18 near Una Himachal Pradesh. He passed away while being rushed to a hospital in Chandigardh. Dr. Baveja will be remembered for his contribution in bringing ‘Guruji Samagra’, a comprehensive book collection on RSS’s second Sarasanghachalak MS Golwalkar. Dr. Baweja hailed from Sonepat. From a humble upbringing he finished his Doctorate in Mathematics and dedicated his life for sangh. He served as sah-prant pracharak Delhi and prant pracharak for Haryana. He was 63.
31. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Shri Shyam Parande, Secretary Sewa International will visit Bali, Java in Indonesia. Visitors: Dr. Ram Rai Sood - USA, Dilip Chowdhary - Thailand, Dr. Anil Nene – UK.
.FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The degree of freedom from unwanted thoughts and the degree of concentration on a single thought are the measures to gauge spiritual progress. – Ramana Maharshi
JAI SHREE RAM
A CLEAR MESSAGE TO COLOMBO
If Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa thought the spotlight was no longer on his regime despite United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay raising concerns over the human rights of the Tamils, the Sunday results of the Northern Provincial Council elections would have come as a shocker. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) won 30 of the 38 seats in the elections sending a clear message to Colombo that it was time to give more regional autonomy to the northern areas. The ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance managed to secure seven seats, while the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress won the remaining one seat. The results are perhaps the worst electoral defeat for Mr Rajapaksa after his government came to power in 2005. Last month, Ms Pillay visited Sri Lanka and did not mince her words in expressing her disappointment at the progress the government had made in integrating the Lankan Tamils in the north of the country even four years after the civil war came to an end. The poll results underline her observations.
The results have placed a lot of challenges in front of CV Wigneswaran, the retired Supreme Court judge and TNA leader who is frontrunner for the post of chief minister of the province. The high voter turnout and the majority the TNA has received is also a sign that the people are not happy with the measures taken by the government in the past four years to improve their lives. Mr Wigneswaran’s view that the TNA is willing to work with Colombo is proof that he has not been swayed by the views of nationalist groups, especially the Tamil diaspora, that is rooting for a separate State. It is to be seen how much Colombo will be willing to cooperate on this issue. The people have reposed their faith in democracy. Now, it is up to both the TNA and the Rajapaksa government to avoid disappointing them. (Hindustan Times New Delhi, Sep 25 2013) Back
NO BAR TOO HIGH FOR INDIAN-AMERICANS
This past Friday, as President Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh engaged in talks, Singh's wife Gursharan Kaur slipped away after having tea with First Lady Michelle Obama. Her destination: E Barrett Prettyman Courthouse, home to the DC Court of Appeals, where Sri Srinivasan, who Obama had appointed as a federal judge, was having his formal investiture ceremony. Although Srinivasan had already been sworn in and has been serving on the bench since May, when he was confirmed by a record 97-0 in a Senate that has voted down every other Obama nominee, it appeared the ceremony was timed to suit the Singhs, whose youngest daughter Amrit, is herself a celebrated Indian-American legal eagle, having held successive US administration to account for human rights abuses.
The Singhs and Srinivasans have been family friends for many years, but the event was a milestone for an Indian-American community that is storming the US legal-judicial-political citadel. In the past year, Obama has nominated four Indian-Americans as Federal Article III judges. It is a staggering advancement for an ethnic community that is typically more inclined to study medicine and engineering. What has changed?
Almost the entire pantheon of India's founding fathers was constituted of lawyers. Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, and Jinnah studied law, invariably in England. Ambedkar, who first went to Columbia University in New York to study economics and political science, later studied law in England.
Much later, it was the US...and medicine, science, technology, management studies. But few came to the US to study law. But that has changed. Second generation Indian-Americans have been flocking to US law schools. There are no hard numbers, says Nadeem Bezar, president of the North American South Asian Bar Association (NASABA) but "there isn't a prominent law school in America that does not have a South Asian law students' network". NASABA is a parent body of various SABAs, of which there is a chapter in almost every major city. Law offices and lobbying firms in New York, Chicago, and Washington DC are now teeming with Indian-Americans.
The lawyerly trend has been visible for some years now, but breaking through the glass ceiling is relatively recent, illustrated by a flurry of high judicial appointments from the White House. Earlier this month, Obama nominated Chicagoan Manish S Shah for the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. It was the third major White House judicial pick of Indian-Americans this year, after the milestone nomination of Sri Srinivasan to the DC Court of Appeals (a stepping stone to the Supreme Court), followed by the nomination of Vince Girdhari Chhabria to the US District Court for the Northern District of California. Then there was Indira Talwani who was nominated to the Massachusetts bench days before the PM's visit.
Beyond these there have been several state level judicial appointments by governors over the past year — Alka Sagar as magistrate judge of the US District Court for the Central District of California, who will join Jay Gandhi who is already on the bench; Rupa S Goswami as the Los Angeles County Superior Court judge; Ketu Shah as district judge in Washington State. There are still others at the county and city level. Expect this to accelerate, says Bezar, because the first generation of Indian-Americans who went to law school in the 1980s have now gone past mid-career and are striving towards the top.
For instance, Alka Sagar has worked as an assistant United States attorney for the past 26 years. Manish Shah served as the chief of Criminal Appeals and also deputy chief of the Financial Crimes & Special Prosecutions Section, before that. "What we are seeing now is the first labors of spectacularly bright South Asian men and women...moving into judiciary," explains Bezar.
And government and politics. There are also the stories of Indian-American lawyers hitting the high spot in politics, and its stepping stone — prosecution. Preet Bharara (Columbia Law School 1993) and Kamala Harris (UC Hastings 1989) being the most prominent examples. Not to forget Neal Katyal, who served as acting Solicitor General in 2010-2011 and was lead counsel for Guantanamo Bay detainees in the Supreme Court. (Times News Network September 29, 2013)