Kolkata bakery introduces scrapped 500, 1,000 notes for desserts

Dec 6, 2016 0

Kolkata– The bitter pill of demonetisation for dessert lovers has turned into sweet delight in the eastern metropolis.

Scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, that have made national and international headlines in the last one month, are now etched in sugar and chocolate forever, courtesy a Kolkata-based bakery’s creative twist to the demonetisation move.

The bakery has come out with dark chocolate replicas of the scrapped notes. Priced at Rs 100 each, these thin chocolate slices will perhaps, offer some solace, after you have borne the brunt of queuing up in front of ATMs and laid hands on cash.

“The base is chocolate and the layout of the notes is painted with edible sugar paint. They were introduced right after demonetisation was announced,” an official of Krazy for Chocolates, a bakery specialising in chocolates, pastries, customised cakes among others, told IANS.

Dark chocolate replicas of the scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes created by a Kolkata-based bakery. Priced at Rs 100 each, these thin chocolate slices will perhaps, offer some solace, after you have borne the brunt of queuing up in front of ATMs and laid hands on cash.

Dark chocolate replicas of the scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes created by a Kolkata-based bakery. Priced at Rs 100 each, these thin chocolate slices will perhaps, offer some solace, after you have borne the brunt of queuing up in front of ATMs and laid hands on cash.

At its outlets across numerous city malls, salespersons have been assailed with questions over its edibility.

“Some people give it a second look because they think it’s incredible. It has raised a lot of eyebrows and the curiosity is good for business,” a salesperson manning a counter at City Centre 2 mall, told IANS.

According to Vinay Sethia from the bakery company, around 20 to 30 pieces of the chocolates are being sold on a daily basis since November.

“Since we customise our products, organisers of small parties and events have ordered these chocolates. They have become very popular. People are eager to have them on cakes. Someone also ordered chocolates resembling the new Rs 500 notes yesterday (on Monday). As long as they continue selling, we will produce them,” Sethia told IANS.

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Tata Group no one’s personal fiefdom, says Mistry; Tatas hit back

Dec 5, 2016 0

Mumbai– Ahead of the extraordinary general meetings called by several Tata Group companies to remove him from their boards, Tata Sons’ ousted Chairman Cyrus Mistry appealed for support from stakeholders on Monday, saying the group “is no one’s personal fiefdom”, even as the Tata Sons hit back at him.

“The Tata Group is no one’s personal fiefdom: it does not belong to any individual, not to the trustees of Tata Trusts, not to the Tata Sons directors, and not to the directors of the operating companies.

Cyrus P. Mistry

Cyrus P. Mistry

“It belongs to all the stakeholders, including every one of you. I, therefore, urge all you to think beyond the here and now. I urge you to have your voice heard loud and clear. I ask you to be part of defining the future,” said Mistry in a letter addressed to the stakeholders.

Tata Sons, however, rebutted the charges Mistry levelled against the Group and dubbed his letter a rehashed version of his earlier statements, press reports and leakages.

“Indeed, the Tata Group is no one’s ‘personal fiefdom’. After he became the Chairman of Tata Sons, it is Mistry who converted the Group into his ‘personal fiefdom’, with his unilateral actions destroying precious institutional memory of the House of Tata,” said Tata Sons in a statement.

Mistry’s 14-page letter — “Representation under section 169 of the Companies Act, 2013. In respect of special notice for removal of Cyrus P. Mistry as Director” — also called upon the government to ensure that Tata Trusts function under the law.

Tata Trusts hold 66 per cent stake in the holding company of the industrial conglomerate Tata Sons, with 18 per cent held by the Mistry family, 13 per cent by Tata companies and the balance three by individuals.

“People who have been complicit or have enabled ethical and legal transgressions or have demonstrated a blatant disregard for good governance should not be allowed to continue,” Mistry told the company’s investors in the letter.

“The governance charter across the Tata Group, including the holding and operating companies, requires repair to conform to company law and global best practices viz. protection of interests of all stakeholders, including minority shareholder,” he reiterated.

Recalling his family’s 75 years of relationship with the Group, with significant stake in Tata Sons over 50 years, Mistry said neither his family nor he had thought that ownership of a substantial equity stake gave them a special position in the Group.

“The Tata Trusts are ‘public charitable trusts’. Their beneiciaries are the general public of India. They are not family trusts as one normally thinks of trusts carrying a family name,” said Mistry in his letter.

Asserting that the trustees were required to discharge their fiduciary duties by applying their minds to matters before them, Mistry said the conferment of all decision-making power in one man or a ‘high command’ among them was unethical, improper and a breach of trust.

Alleging that over time then Chairman Ratan Tata and former Vice-Chairman N.A. Soonawala abused their positions, Mistry said in their capacity as trustees, the duo took the veto rights of the trustee-nominated Directors as their entitlement to dictate how Tata Sons should conduct itself.

“They interpreted the Articles of Association to mean that they could call for information and seek discussions on any subject they considered material,” the letter observed.

On Mistry quoting Jamsetji Tata’s words: “In a free enterprise, the community is not just another stakeholder in business, but is in fact the very purpose of its existence”, the Tatas’ rejoinder said the Trusts have been faithfully carrying out the founder’s vision.

“It can be seen that the Trusts have been doing so far is for the people and not for any individual or a family….,” said the statement.

Attacking Mistry, it said: “Mistry has gradually over the past three/four years concentrated all power and authority only in his own hands as Chairman in all the major Tata operating companies where there is no longer any representatives from the Board of Tata Sons, the main promoter and largest shareholding group, as has always been the case in the past.”

The Tata Group has over 660,000 employees and 4 million shareholders. (IANS)

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Opinion: 2016 New England Choice Awards: An Evening of Gratitude and Inspiration

Dec 4, 2016 0

By Kavita Chhibber

 (Editor’s note: This article is reproduced here with permission from Kavitachhibber.com. Ms. Chhibber is a former contributor to INDIA New England News and its sister publication IndUS Business Journal. Her son, Gautam Narula was one of the recipients of 2016 New England Choice Awards. Ms. Chhibber attended the awards gala and spoke with other recipients. What she is sharing here is her personal reflection. Awards photos by Dyuti Majumdar.)

Kavita Chhibber

Kavita Chhibber

October was a month of deep loss and a month of gratitude for my family. But that is not where the story begins.

The year was 2008, and my then 15 year old son Gautam decided to go with me to meet Troy Davis, a death row inmate whose case I was investigating as a journalist. Troy was almost executed before Gautam and I could even meet him that year. His execution was stopped literally 90 minutes before he was to be tied to a gurney. It was the start of a deep friendship between a poor black man from Savannah Georgia who had been incarcerated since 1989, and a young 15 year old Indian American boy from the suburbs. Troy pushed Gautam like no one had before – to excel, to think beyond his comfort zone, to understand that life teaches you real lessons, and it does not always work according to plans. Injustice is color blind, as underneath the color of our skin we are all essentially the same.

When Troy was finally executed on September 21, 2011, Gautam had just turned eighteen. I still remember the words he wrote in his eulogy: “On September 21, 2011, I was not strong enough to save Troy Davis from the people who wanted to kill him. But when I think about how much Troy taught me not only about the death penalty and human rights, but also about courage and strength, about human grace and dignity, about compassion and forgiveness, about unconditional love and loyalty, and when I look back at the person I was before I met Troy Davis and the person I am now, I can only be thankful that he was strong enough to save me.”

Troy’s execution in 2011 compelled my teenaged son, on a prestigious academic scholarship, to rethink life and finally leave school, for several reasons, but mostly because he had promised Troy that he would write his story. In writing his memoir, and walking his own path, with stumbles and successes along the way, I think in some ways Gautam found himself and hopefully his true calling.

I moved to Boston in January 2012, to be with my husband Ajit a few months after Troy’s execution and took a semi-hiatus from the world of journalism to continue my work in energy medicine and esoteric studies.

Troy was someone who had mentored children and adults alike so successfully behind bars, when so many of us live in the prisons of our minds, burning in the fires of envy, greed, and so many insecurities. He deserved a second chance at life, and after his death my own life had somehow taken on a different meaning. I also wanted to keep a low profile for some time as I found myself emotionally and physically exhausted in the aftermath.

It was perhaps a year later that I met Dr. Manju Sheth. If there is anyone in the New England area who has deeply moved me it is Manju. Over the past four years, I have seen her growing exponentially in her creative ideas, her execution of these and as a humanitarian. She is probably one of the most hard working people I know and someone who is very accountable and ethical in her dealings.

She heard about Gautam’s book from me and instantly said, “I would like to interview him as soon as the book comes out. I don’t know any kid who has gone on death row.” She did exactly that when she launched her Dream Catchers series, a few weeks after Gautam’s self-published book was quietly released on 21st September 2015, to mark Troy’s death anniversary. As Gautam said when he received the Youth Leadership award: Manju believed in him and his intent and the book way before anyone had really given the book a serious thought. The book did not have a big publishing house promoting it. It was not allowed entry for many prestigious book awards because many of these prohibit self-published books from being considered. The ones that did invariably acknowledged the book with citations and awards. The biggest one was the South East’s biggest award – Georgia Author of the Year.

It was on June 4th this year, when Gautam’s little book beat out President Carter’s autobiography (a New York Times best seller) that mainstream media attention really started. His father Naveen and his loving stepmother Genevieve were able to attend the banquet. And of course there was disbelief, but also sheer joy, that the little self-published Kickstarter-funded book had come this far.

But that came so much later. Manju and Gautam connected instantly and he was her second guest on Dream Catchers. The interview was done in one take; such was the comfort level between the two. Her husband Dipak was the first one to read the book and took the time out to tell Gautam how much he loved what he had read. This past September Gautam and I flew to Atlanta. The purpose of my trip was for work, but also to accompany him for a visit to Savannah about 250 miles away. We were to visit Troy’s grave as we did annually on his death anniversary on the 21st. Little did we to know that this would be the last time we would both see his dad Naveen as well. And it was as if Troy knew too. There was a major gas spill in Georgia affecting adjoining states, and due to majority of the gas stations being without gas, Naveen told us not to go to Savannah. I was feeling really sad about that but Gautam said, “Mom I will still mark the occasion by releasing the Kindle version of the book.”

His dad Naveen tested the Kindle version, okayed it and it was done. It was on that day, that I got a call from Manju that the 11 member jury had voted to give Gautam the Youth leadership award at NECA. I remembered tearing up and telling her, “I don’t think you know it is Troy’s death anniversary today. And that Gautam being recognized for Troy’s story is a sign from Troy, because I was feeling sad that we have to miss our trip to Savannah.”

When I showed Naveen the list of recipients, and the large number of IIT alumni that were being honored, he was even more thrilled about NECA than any other accolades Gautam had won to date for his book. Naveen was a proud IIT alumnus. He was a brilliant man with a formidable intellect and he always said to Gautam that he believed whatever he was today was because of the excellent education he received at IIT. And so to have his young 23-year old son honored on the same platform as these stalwarts who were pillars of the New England community was a matter of such pride and joy for him. He was leaving for India to spend time with his 83 year old mother and his ticket had already been booked by then or he would have come for sure, he said. His mother who I spoke with just yesterday said to me, “Naveen was so happy about the NECA awards. He told me about them and about the so many wonderful super achievers from IIT who were being honored and he was so happy that Gautam would hopefully have the opportunity to meet them and learn from them.”

Naveen’s wife was visiting her mother in France so we three ended up spending a lot of time together. He went with me on the 25th September to pick out clothes for Gautam to wear at the Awards on the 28th and we hung out, just the two of us talking, laughing and reminiscing that day. We were married for 18 years and remained the closest of friends and co-parents for 32 years.

Gautam and I returned to Boston on 27th September. On the morning of October 9th, we received the news that Naveen had passed away in his sleep. That day also happened to be Troy’s 48th birthday and the auspicious Ashtami on the Hindu calendar. That date will forever be etched in our memory.

I probably would not have attended the awards under these circumstances, but I came with my son because the intent behind these awards was so pure and genuine, and because they meant so much to his dad. Manju has organized many events successfully, even before I knew her. And I have gotten to see firsthand, the amount of hard work she puts in and the tremendous good will she has earned in the community because her events are always sold out.

I remember asking her, “I know this has been on your mind for a few years… but why NECA now? You already have your hands full!” And she said, “You know initially it was because each time when we would host Woman of the Year awards, we would get comments from men that we are forgetting them, both jokingly and seriously. I have been involved in the production of over 50 shows in the last 8 years, including several award shows, and have lived here in the New England area for many years. What I have noticed over the years is that the community has grown exponentially and so many Indian Americans are at the top, doing amazing work and leading by example. So what would be better than having an event that is by the community and for the community? I feel that the most important thing for me to do in an award show is not just to recognize people for their achievements but hope that they could be an inspiration for others.”

As we drove to the venue, I saw a glimpse of the ballroom from the street. Sheer elegance in red and gold to mark the upcoming Diwali weekend. The place was packed but every single detail was given meticulous attention (courtesy of Shobha Shastry from Alankar decorations, who deserves special mention.) Deejay Yogz and his team handled the audio engineering and music. The food was great, the auditorium beautifully decorated, and there were elegant boxes of sweets on each table to mark Diwali

The NECA Logo had the colors of the Indian flag and was understated elegance. Manju told me that one could see a temple, a citadel or a mosque in its shape-unity can exist in diversity, be it culture or faith. The event started with a performance by the talented Mouli Pal and her dancers, and followed by Mohan Subramaniam and Shilpa Ananth’s melodious voices. Stand up comedy by Jolly Bhatia was hilarious. I smiled to myself that Naveen would have loved it as he was a huge fan of the villain of yesteryears Ajeet.

I remember Gautam and I sat one day looking over the list of award recipients… and what an impressive list it was!

Some I had met or seen before, like Desh Deshpande and his wife Jayashree, who were the epitome of warmth and class. There was also Amar Sawhney who hailed from IIT Delhi. Naveen had told me to interview him because his story was so fascinating. I had also seen Puran Dang, who I had never met personally but whose warmth and energy was so contagious from whichever stage he spoke from. But with these few exceptions I really did not know much about the other recipients.

But here they were: Professor Vijay Kumar, a brilliant academician who had predicted the significance of online courses way back in 1985 (and who I had often seen singing on stage while bringing the house down with his humor and colorful dresses and caps!)

Dr. Dinesh Patel, who Manju called the role model for all physicians in the New England area. Dr. Patel came from a farming family, only the second in his family to attend college. He would go on to Harvard, and eventually start a humanitarian initiative, “A Leg to Stand On”, which has provided free surgery to 15,000 children. His story moved me deeply.

Venkat Srinivasan, who has churned out one successful company after another, but who stands out as the reticent Philanthropist, quietly giving away to so many causes.

Dr. Vijay Kumar Dr. Dinesh Patel

Jothi Raghavan, an incredibly gifted exponent of classical dance who has taught so many – and it seems her lessons have extended way beyond the classical arts.The two organizations, Learnquest Academy that keeps the classical arts thriving and Saheli that helps heal victims of any kind of abuse in our community. To be nominated alongside such stellar company itself was a great honor for Gautam.

Desh and Jayashree Deshpande

Desh and Jayashree Deshpande received the lifetime achievement award that night.  Both are so accomplished, and  I have been asked for the past 6 or 7 years by a couple of common friends to interview them, for being such great role models. More than their professional accomplishments, I am moved by their humanitarian pursuits and thoughtfulness. I was very touched when Desh, after 2 weeks of whirlwind international and national travel, spoke to me as soon as he returned.  Manju had said to me that she still remembers a comment that was made to her about the Deshpandes: They and their children do not carry the burden of their wealth or their success. The lesson that Jayashree was taught by her grandfather of focusing on simple living and high thinking is being emulated in great measure by the family.While that conversation will be posted separately, I asked Desh what the NECA Awards meant to him. “I think what they do is that ten years from now, they will  become a part of the culture and the way the community comes together, identifies people who are doing good things and recognizes them. Communities are built by sharing their successes and the sorrow of each other and this is a ritual like the tribes used to come together and dance and celebrate the many things, like war victories and so on. This is a modern way of  building a community.”

Venkat Srinivasan

Venkat Srinivasan and his wife Pratima seem to be two of the real gems in the community. I saw so much compassion and warmth from Pratima in our interactions on email that I am really looking forward to spending some time with this multi-talented lady. Gautam, who is especially interested in artificial intelligence is busy reading Venkat’s book which he took with him to Atlanta earlier this month, and Venkat told me they had ordered Gautam’s. And that is how a connection is formed through sharing of life’s experiences for all of us who know how impactful the right words at the right time can be in one’s life.Venkat had this to say about the awards, “I thought it was a great event… it is remarkable to see how talented the community is… and in such diverse fields.  While we always knew that, INE Multimedia really brought it to life with the event.  I thought the brief video clips of each awardee added a very personal and warm touch to the function.  Anu and Rama deserve a lot of kudos for their attention to detail including things like choosing the right background music for the person and the theme, making sure the right words of sound track were juxtaposed with the photos etc. Personally, I hope the spotlight on philanthropy brings it even more to the forefront of this wonderful community.  I hope it serves to increase our efforts to give a hand up to those who need us. INE Multimedia [Upendra Mishra, Manju Sheth, and others] has done a remarkable service to the community with their Woman of the Year and now the Choice Awards events.  These events really mobilize the community and create a sense of togetherness.

Jothi Raghavan

Jothi Raghavan is someone whose aura exudes, humility, goodness and warmth. To hear students and those who know her, speak highly of her both as mentor, guru and accomplished exponent of the classical arts, only confirmed my first impression of her. Her joy at what she experienced that day is evident in the lines she sent me. She is spiritually elevated. I know that for sure from our offline interactions.“I am honored and humbled to be the recipient of this year’s New England choice award for arts and culture.   It was a delight to see Deshpandes receiving the lifetime achievement award . They are such an inspiration to the community and lead by example . The event was meticulously planned and executed. It was both grand and intimate. Manju Seth and the entire team had gone that extra mile to make sure that event flowed flawlessly . It was great fun meeting so many of my friends from the past whom I had not seen in decades . It almost felt like a wedding in the family. Great job Manju and Upendra and INE team. Look forward to many more such joyous events.”

For Gouri Bannerji of Saheli, I am sure these 2 decades have been gratifying years of coming together with other like-minded people to help South Asian lives heal and educating the community about taboo topics. She shared these thoughts with me.

“In 2016 September Saheli Support and Friendship for South Asian Women celebrated its twentieth year of service to the South Asian community of Boston. The New England Choice Award was icing on our cake as it reaffirmed that the community believes that Saheli is doing important and necessary work and in the right way. Since receiving the award, many leaders from the Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Nepali community have called to congratulate us and many young women from these communities have expressed interest in working as volunteers for Saheli.

“Saheli’s growth over the past twenty years has been steady, slow and deliberate as its committed leaders, volunteers and supporters wished it to be. Breaking the silence about domestic abuse and violence in a still very patriarchal culture, where most men have more power than women, has been challenging. Board members have persevered by being attentive to the needs of women, children and families and using resources very carefully. Raising funds to sustain the four part time staff members and pay rent for a small office has been an uphill battle, but we have been blessed by generous donations from our friends,  supporters and family. The NECA award has reinvigorated us with the belief that even though the work is hard and resources are very limited, Saheli’s work is extremely important for the women and children who depend on us to be their friends, advocates and champions.”

Puran Dang

Puran Dang has many firsts to his name. What fascinated Gautam was the fact that Pandit Nehru, one of Gautam’s heroes, gave the commencement address when Puran ji graduated among the first batch from IIT Kharagpur. The story of his life as a child of partition also resonated with me because my father is the same age as Puran ji and went through similar experiences. Manju has a special fondness for him. “He believed in me when I was not really known and had come up to me and told me, ’You will win Woman of the year.’ And since then he has always had words of encouragement for me.”What touched me most was when Puran ji said that when he looked around he only saw friends and well-wishers  in the audience. He sent me an email appreciating the stellar job done at the awards, apart from some very kind words about Gautam.

“India New England News and INE media did a great job in honoring the Indian American Community by holding this grand event. In my opinion, it not only brought 400+ members of our community together but also generated a wave of inspiration among all the people. Our community has done very well overall in various spheres but to honor those who excelled becomes a model for the younger generation to emulate and even achieve more.

“Another thing which impressed me was there were 400 happy faces, jubilant and excited. This event created an atmosphere of Hope on every face and that made me very happy for the future. I am told that this event created such a sense of euphoria that the organizers are already getting nominations for next year.

Amar Sawhney

“If community is the subject this event achieved a very high grade and has inspired lot of people.”Amar Sawhney was honored for entrepreneurship and impressed Gautam when he read how many patents (120) Amar had to his name, and how being rejected by 30 companies for a job did not deter Amar from turning into a highly successful serial entrepreneur. Amar said to me in another inspiring conversation that he was thrilled that the Indian community was no longer a stereotyped entity as before.

“The one thing I took away from the NECA awards is that we have a very rich and enduring group of people in a community that has developed a spectrum of capabilities. I was very heartened to see the community mature in the arts, sciences, finance, literature and a variety of different kinds of perspectives. And the awards were not given to just the usual stereotypical things that we are trying to look at in the community. It gave me great pleasure to see that today we are a vibrant, multi- dimensional community and it was a personal eye-opener for me to see how much, kids like your son are doing and how people are involved in so many different pursuits. That was to me, very heartening.”

Treasurer Deb Goldberg’s words were full of warmth as well. I think she is already an honorary Indian! “I am so honored to be here with all of you, and I am deeply humbled to be recognized along with so many distinguished leaders throughout the Indian community and New England,” said Goldberg, who was honored for outstanding leadership and public service. “I am but one of hundreds of people here tonight who could be recognized for service to the community.

“You can feel the energy in the room. There are trailblazers here, from dozens of different fields, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones, across the arts, business, healthcare, youth leadership, and many other fields – all of which will greatly benefit our communities, our region, and our world. This event brings together luminaries who are renowned for catalyzing positive change in their respective industries, and who are sharing their success by creating more opportunities for others to excel.”

 
Treasurer Deb Goldberg Eric Schultz

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care CEO Eric Schultz, is again a familiar face because of the support Harvard Pilgrim gives to the community in efforts to strengthen bonds and alliances.

The INE team (L to R): Anupendra Sharma, Manju Sheth, Anu Chitrapu and Upendra Mishra.

Everything was signature Manju. Her exclusive team of some amazingly talented people is her biggest asset. Manju highlights Upendra Mishra’s immeasurable influence on the success of the award show and her own path: “Upendra has equal contribution in this award show. He has been a believer in my dreams and it would have been impossible to execute the show without him and INE team.  Our mutual respect and friendship have been the key to our success.
Anu Chitrapu has been her partner in crime for many successful ventures and did a fantastic job of creating the videos. Her husband Ram Ramakrishnan and co emcee Anupendra Sharma ably supported the project. Anu said, “The 2016 NECA awards marked a significant milestone for the community in the New England area. Never before has the community witnessed an event like this where the recipients were recognized for their contributions.  It was my honor to create short videos for each winner. Just the act of collecting materials for the video was inspiring in itself!  It was amazing to learn about each of them and realize how much each individual has contributed and continues to contribute!  The evening left the guests, the speakers and the organizers themselves in awe. Every one of us left the venue filled with pride and inspiration!”

People say two strong women cannot work together. “Anu and I are a prime example of that not being true,” says Manju. “Mutual respect and leaving your ego at the door and working for the larger good are a great way to do well together.” Working with her small team of close and trustworthy friends of long standing, as well as other people who take pride in their work, are the key to these events being a success according to Manju.

That evening was such a celebration of the life of so many accomplished people, who as I discovered when I spoke to some of them a few days ago, also have their heart in the right place. To the awardees, success meant nurturing others to succeed. To them social responsibility wasn’t just about writing a check for a charity but getting their own feet wet, building bridges and inspiring others to do the same. It was also the first time I saw only positive energy, appreciation and such love emanating from every one of the 400 people.

Gautam Narula honored with the Youth Leadership Award.

Gautam was very humbled to be among such stars. He was better known in his state of Georgia for being a nationally ranked chess player and academic ace who was voted “ Most likely to succeed’ by his High School Peers. He had quietly moved to Boston in 2012 at 19 to write his book and to donate the proceeds to the Innocence Project.And yet Boston has always been warm and welcoming to this former Southern boy, and he has loved being here even trying to reluctantly embrace the winter weather!

As he walked up to receive his award, the spontaneous standing ovation made me tear up. It was as if all the elders in the community had taken this young 23 year old, who had lost his father barely 19 days ago, under their protection and love. I felt like he had so many father figures, many of whom came to meet him afterwards to say words of appreciation and encouragement. But no one has nurtured and encouraged him as Manju has. I was very moved when she said to me “Gautam is the one person who left me in tears when he walked on stage. Being a mother of a teenager, you see so much going around you that worries you, but a young man like Gautam gives you hope and makes you believe, that even if there are ups and downs, everything will  eventually be alright with the world because youngsters like him are there.”

One of my favorite sharing by Peggy Tabor Millin comes to mind “I was on a train on a rainy day. The train was slowing down to pull into a station. For some reason I became intent on watching the raindrops on the window. Two separate drops, pushed by the wind, merged into one for a moment and then divided again—each carrying with it a part of the other. Simply by that momentary touching, neither was what it had been before. And as each one went to touch other raindrops, it shared not only itself, but what it had gleaned from the other. I realized then that we never touch people so lightly that we do not leave a trace.”

It is true and if the intent is pure, if we help others succeed and rejoice in their success then everything will be alright. I am filled with  deep gratitude at all the blessings my son received that night and continues to receive because he has a  nurturing community that believes in him and his intent. If I took anything from the awards, it was that when we come together as people to love and honor each other, vibrations change and great things are achieved.

(Kavita Chhibber is an award winning freelance journalist.Her work covers a wide variety of topics.and is alsopublished in and quoted by academia and Ivy league school libraries. You can check out her work at www.KavitaChhibber.com)

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25 Highest Paid Indian-American Chief Financial Officers; Two Women Make to the Top List

Dec 4, 2016 0

BOSTON— Akhil Johri, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of United Technologies Corp., topped the list of 25 highest paid Indian-American Chief Financial Officers of public companies in the United States, according to a report released by the IndUS Business Journal.

“It is exciting to see that at least two women have made to this exclusive list,” said Upendra Mishra, publisher of the IndUS Business Journal. “This list includes companies in all areas and its shows the diversity of businesses where Indian-Americans hold top leadership positions.”

The two women in the list are: Meera Rao, Chief Financial Officer of Monolithic Power Systems, who made $2.58 million; and Shalini Sharp, Chief Financial Officer of Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical, who made $2.38 million.

The list is based on the total compensation in 2015, including base salary, bonus, incentives and stock award value. The report is compiled based on public documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, public records and news reports.

Here is the list of highest paid Indian-Americans CFOs of publica companies ranked by total compensation in 2015:

Akhil Johri

Akhil Johri

Rank # 1

Name: Akhil Johri

Title: Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

Company: UNITED TECHNOLOGIES CORP

Headquarters:  Hartford, CT

Total Compensation: $12.37 million

Rank # 2

Name: Krishna Shivram

Title: Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

Company: WEATHERFORD INTL PLC

Headquarters:  Houston, TX

Total Compensation: $4.92 million

Rank # 3

Name: Vikas Sinha

Title: Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Company: ALEXION PHARMACEUTICALS INC

Headquarters:  Cheshire, CT

Total Compensation: $4.74 million

Rank # 4

Name: Bedi Ajay Singh

Title: Chief Financial Officers

Company: NEWS CORP

Headquarters: New York, NY

Total Compensation: $4.51 million

Rank # 5

Name: Rajesh Kalathur

Title: Senior Vice President and CFO

Company: DEERE & CO

Headquarters: Moline, IL

Total Compensation: $4.35 million

Rank # 6

Name: Manmeet S. Soni

Title: Chief Financial Officer

Company: PHARMACYCLICS INC

Headquarters: Sunnyvale, CA

Total Compensation: $3.52 million

Rank # 7

Name: Rajesh K. Agrawal

Title: Chief Financial Officer

Company: WESTERN UNION CO

Headquarters:  Englewood, CO

Total Compensation: $2.63 million

Meera Rao (Photo: Linked in)

Meera Rao (Photo: Linked in)

Rank # 8

Name: Meera Rao

Title: Chief Financial Officer

Company: MONOLITHIC POWER SYSTEMS

Headquarters: San Jose, CA

Total Compensation: $2.58 million

Shalini Sharp (Photo: Linkedin)

Shalini Sharp (Photo: Linkedin)

Rank # 9

Name: Shalini Sharp

Title: Chief Financial Officer

Company: ULTRAGENYX PHARMACEUTICAL

Headquarters: Novato, CA

Total Compensation: $2.38 million

Rank # 10

Name: Amit Muni

Title: Chief Financial Officer

Company: WISDOMTREE INVESTMENTS

Headquarters:  New York, NY

Total Compensation: $2.37 million

Rank # 11

Name: Manik H. Jhangiani

Title: Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Company: COCA-COLA EUROPEAN PARTNERS US

Headquarters: Atlanta, GA

Total Compensation: $2.33 million

Rank # 12

Name: Arun Nayar

Title: Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Company: TYCO INTERNATIONAL PLC

Headquarters: Princeton, NJ

Total Compensation: $2.11 million

Rank # 13

Name: Harpreet S. Grewal

Title: Executive Vice President and CFO

Company: CONSTANT CONTACT INC

Headquarters: Waltham, MA

Total Compensation: $2.20 million

Rank # 14

Name: Ganesh Moorthy

Title: Chief Financial Officer

Company: MICROCHIP TECHNOLOGY INC

Headquarters: Chandler, AZ

Total Compensation: $1.97 million

Rank # 15

Name: Anurup Pruthi

Title: Chief Financial Officer

Company: CHILDRENS PLACE INC

Headquarters: Secaucus, NJ

Total Compensation: $1.94 million

Rank # 16

Name: Prashanth Mahendra-Rajah

Title: Chief Financial Officer

Company: WABCO HOLDINGS INC.

Headquarters: Piscataway, NJ

Total Compensation: $1.93 million

Rank # 17

Name: Satish Rishi

Title:  Chief Financial Officer

Company: RAMBUS INC

Headquarters: Sunnyvale, CA

Total Compensation: $1.85 million

Rank # 18

Name: Vaseem Mahboob

Title: Chief Financial Officer

Company: ENDOLOGIX INC

Headquarters: Irvine, Calif.

Total Compensation: $1.74 million

Rank # 19

Name: Arvind Dharia

Title: Chief Financial Officer

Company: MADDEN STEVEN LTD

Headquarters: Long Island, NY

Total Compensation: $1.52 million

Rank # 20

Name: Adeel Khan

Title: Chief Financial Officer

Company: Rexford Industrial Realty

Headquarters: Los Angeles, Calif.

Total Compensation: $1.51 million

Rank #21

Name: Ashish R. Parikh

Title: Chief Financial Officer

Company: HERSHA HOSPITALITY TRUST

Headquarters: Harrisburg, PA

Total Compensation: $1.5 million

Rank #22

Name: Ranjan Kalia

Title: Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Company: VIRTUSA CORP

Headquarters: Westborough, MA

Total Compensation: $1.43 million

Rank #23

Name: Rajeev Bhalla

Title: Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Company: CIRCOR International’s

Headquarters: Burlington, MA

Total Compensation: $1.42 million

Rank # 24

Name: Amit Singhi

Title: Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Company: FLIR Systems

Headquarters: Wilsonville, OR

Total Compensation: $1.36 million

Rank # 25

Name: Atish D. Shah

Title: Chief Financial Officer

Company: HYATT HOTELS CORP

Headquarters: Chicago, IL

Total Compensation: $1.27 million.

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Digital literacy, digital currency is the future: Chandrababu Naidu

Dec 3, 2016 0

New Delhi–Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on Saturday advocated digital literacy and digital currency, saying they will not only reduce sufferings caused due to demonetisation but were imperative for fighting corruption and ensuring transparency.

“We need to prepare people to go in for digital currency through device-to-device transfer of money, online transactions and usage of swipe machines.

“We need to think of ways to reduce suffering caused by demonetisation. We need to think forward. Digital currency is the future, of course, people still need liquid cash,” Naidu said at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit.

N. Chandrababu Naidu

N. Chandrababu Naidu

Naidu, who heads a committee of chief ministers on demonetisation, said that digital currency will not only control corruption but it will also eradicate the problem of black money.

“This will help improve transparency and reduce corruption and black money,” he said.

Admitting that demonetisation has “caused sufferings” to the people, Naidu said: “We have to go for digital literacy and transparency. If you want to control corruption in a company or in your state, you must be digitally literate, so that corruption will go and black money will be controlled.”

About Amravati, the new capital of Andhra Pradesh, Naidu said his government’s vision was to make it among the best destinations in India by 2029.

“The aim is not only the development of the state but also to increase happiness of the people,” he said adding that his government was working on setting up world class institutes in the fields of education and healthcare. (IANS)

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5 Hurdles to Modi’s push for cashless economy

Dec 3, 2016 0

By Devanik Saha

On November 27, during an election rally in Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged all Indians get familiar and make others familiar with cashless transactions.

The same day, during his radio programme Mann Ki Baat, he said: “Learn how this digital economy works. Learn the different ways you can use your bank accounts and internet banking. Learn how to effectively use the apps of various banks on your phones. Learn how to run your business without cash. Learn about card payments and other electronic modes of payment. Look at the malls and see how they function. A cashless economy is secure, it is clean. You have a leadership role to play in taking India towards an increasingly digital economy.”

Indian Prime Minister Mody

Indian Prime Minister Mody

Modi and his cabinet ministers have now launched a major social-media effort to promote cashless transactions, which include e-banking (or banking over computers or mobile phones), debit and credit cards, card-swipe or point-of-sales (PoS) machines and digital wallets.

While India’s internet users surpass the US, smartphone ownership and internet penetration remain low. Also, as many as 68 per cent of transactions in India are done in cash, according an analysis by Business Standard, while other estimates say 90 per cent of all transactions are in cash.

Given this, there are five hurdles to Modi’s ambition of converting India to a cashless economy:

1. 342 million internet users, 27 per cent of Indians: Earlier this year, India surpassed the US to become the country with the second-largest number of Internet users, according to this June 2016 report by investment firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. There are 342 million internet subscribers (an Internet “penetration rate” of 27 per cent) in India, data from Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) reveal.

The global median is 67 per cent, IndiaSpend reported in March. India lags most major economies and performs worse than Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Indonesia, among other countries, the data reveal.

Put another way, 73 per cent of Indians, or 912 million, do not have Internet access.

Of those who use the Internet, no more than 13 per cent live in rural India (or 108 million of 833 million who live in rural areas), which has been worst hit by the November 8, invalidation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that made up 86 per cent of notes in circulation.

In urban India, 58 per cent of people access the Internet.

2. Smartphone usage rate among adults 17 per cent: For a majority of banking applications, a smartphone is a prerequisite. India is Asia-Pacific’s fastest-growing smartphone market, but no more than 17 per cent of Indian adults own a smartphone, according to a survey by Pew Research. Only seven per cent of adults in low-income families own a smartphone; the figure for wealthier families is 22 per cent.

3. 1.02 billion mobile subscriptions, but only 15 per cent have broadband internet: India had 1.02 billion wireless subscriptions, but after scrubbing the data of inactive and duplicate connections, India has 930 million (90 per cent) active subscribers, according to a TRAI report. Of these, 154 million subscribers (15 per cent) have broadband connections (3G+4G).

4. Average page load time on mobile 5.5 seconds, China 2.6 seconds: The average time to load a page on a mobile phone is 5.5 seconds in India, compared to 2.6 seconds in China, 4.5 in Sri Lanka, 4.9 in Bangladesh and 5.8 in Pakistan, according to the “State of the internet Q1 2016” report by Akamai Technologies, a global content delivery network services provider. Israel has the fastest load time at 1.3 seconds.

Mobile Internet speeds will make users less likely to use their phones for banking transactions, with Oracle Maxymiser, a website optimisation tool by Oracle, a US multinational, reporting a two-second threshold before users stop an online transaction — although 68 per cent of respondents reported they would not wait six seconds for pages or images to load on a bank’s website or mobile site.

5. 856 PoS machines per million Indians: There were 1.46 million PoS machines in use in India — that is, 856 machines per million people — according to an August 2016 Reserve Bank of India report. In 2015, Brazil — with a population 84 per cent lower than India — had nearly 39 times as many machines (32,995), according to a report by Ernst & Young, a consultancy. The PoS machine rate was 4,000 per million people in China and Russia.

More than 70 per cent of the PoS terminals are installed in India’s 15 largest cities, which contribute to more than 75 per cent of transactions, says the Ernst & Young report. This has not changed after #notebandi, as the scrapping of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes is called colloquially.

Most requests for more PoS machines are still from Tier 1, or metropolitan, cities, a banker with a leading private sector bank told the Indian Express on November 29. “In Tier 2 cities, customers are now slowly making the shift from using their debit cards to withdraw cash to using them for payments. The demand is progressing slowly,” he said.

As an incentive to banks and manufacturers of PoS terminals, the government has waived 12.5 per cent excise duty and four per cent special excise duty on these machines, as it hopes to install an additional one million PoS machines by March 2017. (IANS)

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Trump warns US firms outsourcing jobs abroad

Dec 2, 2016 0

Washington–President-elect Donald Trump has warned that US companies would face “consequences” for outsourcing jobs abroad, as he touted his early success in persuading an air conditioner maker to keep about 1,000 jobs in the country rather than move them to Mexico.

“Companies are not going to leave the US anymore without consequences. Not going to happen,” the Republican said on a visit to a Carrier Corp. plant in Indianapolis, the US media reported.

President-Elect Donald Trump (Photo courtesy: National Review)

President-Elect Donald Trump (Photo courtesy: National Review)

Trump, who takes office on January 20, did not say what the consequences would be, but he frequently threatened during the election campaign that his administration would put a 35 per cent import tariff on goods made by American manufacturers that moved jobs offshore.

It was unclear what steps would have to be taken by federal authorities before Trump could retaliate against individual companies shifting jobs abroad.

Trump also did not address if Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies, would face any consequences for continuing with plans to move 1,300 other Indiana jobs to Mexico.

Apparently under pressure from Trump, Carrier announced this week it had agreed to keep more than 1,000 jobs at the plant and at its headquarters, while still planning to move more than 1,000 other US jobs to Mexico.

Trump said his negotiations with the maker of air conditioning units were a model for how he would approach other US businesses that are tempted to move jobs overseas to save money.

He pledged to create a healthy environment for business through lower taxes and fewer regulations.

“I just want to let all of the other companies know that we’re going to do great things for business. There’s no reason for them to leave anymore,” Trump said.

If that approach did not work, there would be penalties, Trump warned. (IANS)

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Indian pleads guilty to student visa fraud in US

Dec 2, 2016 0

Washington–An Indian in the US has pleaded guilty to committing student visa fraud, according to an attorney, local media reported on Friday.

Tejesh Kodali, 45, of Edison, New Jersey, admitted to recruiting foreign nationals and enrolling them at a fake New Jersey college to maintain their “student-visa status and obtain full-time work authorisations without having to attend classes,” US Attorney Paul J. Fishman said in a statement, reported New Jersey online reported.

US Attorney Paul J. Fishman

US Attorney Paul J. Fishman

Kodali, who is the CEO and manager of two Middlesex county firms, pleaded guilty in Newark federal court on Thursday to a charge of conspiracy to commit visa fraud in the scheme to enrol foreign nationals at the University of Northern New Jersey in Cranford — a fake college created by federal officials to uncover visa fraud, the attorney’s statement said.

Kodali faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. His sentencing is scheduled for March 13, 2017.

The Indian was the director of operations of Promatrix Corp. and Blue Cloud Techs Corp. — two “purported international student recruiting and consulting companies” in Edison, New Jersey.

Kodali admitted he was getting commissions by outsourcing the foreign nationals as information technology consultants to US companies, according to Attorney Fishman.

Kodali and his accomplices also attempted to obtain 37 student visas or work authorisations.

He caused the foreign nationals to be reported in government databases as legitimate foreign students. Kodali and his foreign clients obtained and created fraudulent student documents, including attendance records and transcripts, and thus deceived immigration officials.

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Trump to retain high-profile Indian-American prosecutor Preet Bharara

Dec 1, 2016 0

By Arul Louis 

New York– US President-elect Donald Trump is going to keep Indian American Preet Bharara in his job as a high-profile federal prosecutor with charge of Wall Street and important security matters in New York.

Bharara, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, told reporters after meeting with the president-elect on Wednesday that Trump asked him to continue as the US District Attorney for Southern New York and “I agreed to stay on.”

Bharara has the reputation of being a crusader against financial institutions that have been blamed for the recent great recession and have been attacked by Trump for causing economic hardship around the nation.

United States President-elect Donald Trump is going to keep on Preet Bharara, the high-profile Indian federal prosecutor appointed by President Barack Obama. After a meeting with Trump in New York, Bharara told reporters that he had been asked to stay on as the prosecutor for Southern New York, which covers Wall Street, and that he agreed. Bharara prosecuted several Indian business leaders like Rajat Gupta, the former Goldman Sachs director and McKinsey managing parter, for illegal stock trading activities.

United States President-elect Donald Trump is going to keep on Preet Bharara, the high-profile Indian federal prosecutor appointed by President Barack Obama. After a meeting with Trump in New York, Bharara told reporters that he had been asked to stay on as the prosecutor for Southern New York, which covers Wall Street, and that he agreed. Bharara prosecuted several Indian business leaders like Rajat Gupta, the former Goldman Sachs director and McKinsey managing parter, for illegal stock trading activities.

He has taken action against major banks like Citibank and JP Morgan Chase, forcing them to pay billions of dollars to the government to settle the cases.

He has prosecuted over 100 of Wall Street executives for criminal activities like stock trading irregularities using insider information.

They include several Indians like Rajat Gupta, the former head of the consulting company McKinsey and Goldman Sachs director, who served two years in jail for colluding with the Sri Lankan American hedge fund operator Raj Rajaratnam in a stock market scam.

The meeting with Trump and the offer to have Bharara is unusual both because he is a Democrat and an Obama appointee – the only one so far that the Republican has said he will keep on – and because despite its visibility, the job is not of the high-level that Trump is currently trying to fill.

Therefore, it shows the importance Trump attaches to the areas of potential prosecution that Bharara oversees.

Like Bharara, Trump is highly critical of Wall Street manipulations and irregularities, saying: “Wall Street has caused tremendous problems for us.”

“I’m not going to let Wall Street get away with murder,” Trump has declared, and Bharara would be his minion to ensure that.

Bharara has prosecuted several New York politicians for corruption. The senior-most among them is state assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, who was given a 12-year sentence for corruption.

Bharara, whose full name is Preetinder Preet Singh Bharara, was born in Ferozepore in 1968 and immigrated to the US as a child.

He sparked a diplomatic stand-off between India and the United States in 2013 when he had a Dalit Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, arrested and strip-searched over allegations that she had made a false statement in the visa application for her maid.

Other diplomats accused of similar offenses were not similarly treated by Bharara and the humiliating action against Khobragade, the Deputy Consul General in New York, brought retaliatory action against by India against US diplomats in India.

Secretary of State John Kerry expressed regret for the incident and the matter was diplomatically resolved with her being allowed to leave the US without prosecution.

Citibank paid a $158 million fine to settle a case Bharara brought against it for misleading the government about loans and in another case made a $7 billion payment to the government after Bharara began investigating its Mexican unit.

JP Morgan Chase was made to forfeit $7 billion for failing to inform authorities about a massive investment fraud by a client. (IANS)

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Two Indian-American executives held for fraud

Dec 1, 2016 0
Nandu Thondavadi (Photo: Quadrant 4 System website)

Nandu Thondavadi (Photo: Quadrant 4 System website)

Washington– Two Indian American top executives of a software and consulting firm have been arrested in the US for allegedly misrepresenting the company’s finances, a media report said on Thursday.

Nandu Thondavadi, CEO of Schaumburg-based Quadrant 4 System, and Dhru Desai, its chief financial officer and chairman, were charged with wire fraud and certifying false financial reports related to two acquisitions and the settlement of a lawsuit against the company in 2013, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Thondavadi faces an additional charge of making false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission in May during an investigation into the company’s financial practices.

Dhru Desai (Photo: Quadrant 4 System)

Dhru Desai (Photo: Quadrant 4 System)

Both appeared in Chicago federal court on Wednesday morning to hear the charges, which carry a maximum penalty of 20 years each for wire fraud and certifying false financial reports.

Thondavadi of North Barrington and Desai of Barrington are in federal custody with a bond hearing set for Friday afternoon.

Quadrant 4 has offices in seven states and India.

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