Pravasi Bharat 


NRI appointed to US state’s immigrant task force
Ann Kalayil has been appointed to the Task Force of Illinois’s American Immigrants Policy Council. She is also on the state Governor’s Commission on Hate Crimes and Discrimination.
The council coordinates policies and programmes for immigrants, helping them incorporate themselves into society.
Kalayil, whose parents hail from Kerala, has won the appreciation of several US politicians who look to her for advice regarding the South Asian community.

She has worked for immigration reforms and census education and has been the president of the Indo-American Democratic Organization, the Democratic National Committee’s ‘Asian caucus’ treasurer as well as it’s delegate-at-large.

NRIs may get voting rights
The Indian government is considering a proposal that would allow Non-Resident Indians (NRI) to vote in the country’s elections. “The Prime Minister will issue the dual citizenship cards to NRIs,” Minister of State for Overseas Indian Affairs, Oscar Fernandes said. “From all angles we are getting ready. We are going in the right direction.” However, he said the Cabinet would take a final decision in this regard. He assured that things are on the right track and there is a possibility that it would happen.

There are an estimated 25 million NRIs spread around the world and the move will produce a new vote bank for politicians. In January the annual NRI conclave will get underway in Hyderabad and the Government hopes voting rights for them will attract investments as well.

On the dual citizenship issue, Fernandes said a decision on it has been taken in the past one year and the first dual citizenship certificate would be given by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on January 7, the inaugural day of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2006.

Tale of a prodigy: Newspapers at 2, piano lessons at 3, concert at 7
Arjun Ayyangar is a child prodigy who at age 2 could read newspaper headlines, identify all the countries on the globe, and perform 3-digit multiplication. At age 3, he began piano lessons, and has since performed at several venues, including Madison Square Garden during half-time at the New York Knicks vs Miami Head game in 2004. the same year, he was featured on Animal Planet's series Most Extreme: Tough Babies. The programme was taped at the Ayyangars' home in Pennsylvania. They have since moved to Central New Jersey. On October 30, Arjun performed at The Kids Hall of Fame (to which he was inducted in 1999) inaugural ceremony, and inductee exhibit in Huntington, New York.

It doesn't matter to Arjun whether he is playing for one person, or whether a thousand people are in the audience, explains his father Vijay. He plays a clip from NBC's America's Most Talented Kids where, after performing, Arjun simply walked up to his father and sat down, oblivious to the roar of applause that followed. “He forgets about the show within two weeks,” he says. “When the Animal Planet programme ran on TV, he had his back turned to it.” 

Does this indifference worry them? What if he walks out of a performance mid-way? Vijay says they prepare him a show, though they know he will sit forever if he likes something. “He never wants to stop anything,” adds his mother Saroja.


4 NRI students among winners in prestigious US competition
Four NRI school students are among the winners in this year’s Siemens Westinghouse Science competition in the US National Finals.

NRIs Kiran Pendri and Abhinav Khanna were awarded US$50,000 scholarships in the individual and team categories respectively. While Desh Mohan was awarded a scholarship of US$30,000 (individual category) and Amardeep Grewal secured fourth position (team category) in the event.

The Siemens Westinghouse Competition was launched in 1998 to recognise America’s best and brightest students in math, science and technology. This year, 1,684 students entered the competition.

NRI entrepreneur wins prestigious award in the UAE
Bavaguttu Raghuram Shetty, NRI entrepreneur, philanthropist, sports promoter and the chairman of a medical centre, has been awarded the first-ever ‘Abu Dhabi Award - 2005’ (Dec 5). 
Shetty was chosen for his determination to help others and the positive effect of his services has had on the NRI community.
Nine Indians held for running visa racket in UAE
Nine Indians were among 11 people arrested by the UAE immigration authorities who busted a major visa scam in which victims were made to pay tens of thousands of rupees for forged documents. During a series of raids, police have also recovered blank school certificates, university degree documents and Indian passports from the gang that also includes a Pakistani and a Sri Lankan woman, indicating that they were involved in forgery, a report in the daily Gulf Today said. 

The scam came to light when one of the network's victims, a Sharjah resident, filed a complaint, saying he had responded to an advertisement in a prominent English-language newspaper in November and ended up paying Dhs3,250 (around Rs 40,735) to a man who promised to furnish his brother an employment visa. The brother was on a visit visa.

Immigration authorities investigated, and arrested one of the men involved in the scam, and he led to another man who he said was the kingpin. The trail continued until 11 people were arrested in less than 36 hours in raids conducted mainly in the Al Baraha area of Dubai.

The forged school and university degrees and passports were found in an apartment where, apparently, a “labour approval” document was also forged, it added. The “master forger,” it turned out, is an expert in computerised imaging system. The forged labour approval even had a colour-coding which was also skillfully duplicated. Further investigations and questioning led to the discovery that dozens of people were cheated by the gang with the same gimmick. They all had responded to ads and paid a minimum of Dhs3,250 each. Immigration authorities are questioning the suspects.