Pravasi Bharat 

nri - pio section

Space Odyssey: Sunita first Indian to walk in space
Sunita Williams became the first Indian American astronaut to walk in space when she stepped outside space shuttle Discovery to complete the rewiring of her new home, the International Space Station, with some help from a veteran spacewalker. “It’s great to have some good on-orbit electricians working for us,” astronaut Stephen Robinson in Mission Control at Houston told the Discovery crew after the newly wired circuits were turned on for the first time.
“Bye-bye Bob,” sang out Williams as she watched veteran Robert Curbeam float through the airlock into open space. She followed a few minutes later to be greeted by Curbeam, “Welcome to the club, Suni.” Discovery Pilot Bill Oefelein coordinated the spacewalk activities while Mission Specialist Joan Higginbotham operated the station’s robotic arm.
NASA has been meticulous about scouting for damage on the shuttle’s protective heat shields since losing Columbia with all seven astronauts on board including Indian born Kalpana Chawla in 2003. 
Aware of the excitement she has generated among Indians, Sunita, who has brought with her a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, a small statue of Lord Ganesh and a letter written in Hindi by her father, said she wanted the people of India to dream like her, for “if you believe in it, it will come true”.
Indian American donates $30 million to healthcare system
An Indian American entrepreneur in Ohio has donated $30 million to University Hospitals (UH), a major not-for-profit hospital chain.
Monte Ahuja, who had turned his graduate thesis into a global automotive business called Transtar Industries, made the gift on behalf of himself, his wife Usha and their family, in support of UH’s $1.2 billion five-year strategic plan called Vision 2010. In recognition of the Ahuja family’s extraordinary generosity, the largest single donation in UH’s 140-year history, UH will name a planned 200-bed hospital in Beachwood, a suburb in the Ohio capital Cleveland, The Ahuja Medical Center, a UH press release stated.
Zenty had made the historic announcement to more than 700 community leaders, UH physicians, leaders, donors and board members at a special holiday celebration. UH is the second largest healthcare system in northeastern Ohio and has 150 locations, encompassing a network of hospitals, outpatient centres and primary care physicians. “In many ways, my life is an example of the great American dream. I consider myself very fortunate to be so successful in business and to have such a wonderful family, and I want to give back to the community,” said Ahuja, whose gift came 11 months after UH announced its Vision 2010 plan. Ahuja is also vice-chairperson of the UH Board of Directors and led the board task force that developed Vision 2010. 
Ahuja was born and raised in India where he earned a BS in mechanical engineering before immigrating to the United States. The company—with 35 locations in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico—has annual revenues of more than $250 million.
UTI Bank observes NRI Fest 
UTI bank, bunts hostel here (WHERE??) is celebrating ‘NRI Fest’ from December 20 to January 21 in which a large number of Non Resident Indians (NRI’s) will participate. UTI Bank Mangalore assistant vice president Gregory Fernandes speaking to the press conference here on Friday December 22 said that this fest has been organised with a view of publicising the wide range of products like priority banking, online trading, facilitating NRI’s to receive PAN card and many other services offered to NRIs and also for persons of Indian Origin. UTI Bank has tied up with various banks, money changes and exchange houses like Doha bank, Thomas Cook, UAE exchange, Al Fardan exchange and many other international banks with the intention of speedy transfer of funds from overseas to bank accounts in India. The bank also provides globally acceptable travel currency cards in five foreign currencies USD, Euro, GBP, AUD and CAD
Desi Society now official NYPD organization
The New York Police Department’s (NYPD) Desi Society, formed nearly three years ago, has become an official fraternal organisation within the New York police department.
“We started with the common idea that we (Asians) lack a voice within our department and there is nothing to represent our interests,” Desi Society president Jag Jaskaran told Desi Talk, an ethnic Indian newspaper. We are a diverse group of officers from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Guyana and Trinidad, but because we all share the same culture, we created the society,” he added. “We chose our name because ‘desi’ is a word that is used by us to identify ourselves. And by identifying ourselves as desi, we stand united and proud of our roots and rich culture,” Jaskaran said. One of the organisation’s primary aims is also to create awareness among younger generations of South Asians that there are avenues to look into for jobs other than medicine, law, teaching and engineering, which are traditionally sought by the community. Currently, there are 140 police officers and civilian members of the department who are part of the society.
Zubin Mehta honoured by Kennedy Center
India-born Western classical music conductor Zubin Mehta was among five stalwarts from the arts and entertainment field honoured by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts this year for their lifetime contribution. Apart from Mehta, others who were honoured for their contribution to American culture are musical theatre composer and producer Andrew Lloyd Webber, country singer and songwriter Dolly Parton, singer, songwriter and producer Smokey Robinson, and film director and producer Steven Spielberg. While the awardees were presented with a medal at a reception hosted by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, top Washington politicians and celebrities gathered at the Kennedy Center in Washington for a star-studded function in which the five legends were formally honoured.
“America thanks you. We thank you for showing your creative gifts and enriching the cultural life of our country,” US President George Bush was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying at reception. 
Now a resident of Los Angeles, Mehta was born in Mumbai in 1936. A recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian honour, his life has been documented in Terry Sanders’ film ‘Portrait of Zubin Mehta’ and in a book by Martin Bookspan and Ross Yockey entitled ‘Zubin: The Zubin Mehta Story’. This year saw the publication in Germany of Zubin Mehta’s autobiography, “Die Partitur meines Leben: Erinnerungen” (The Score of my Life: Memories).
Indian-American woman elected US judge
It is a typically poor village in Bihar but with one key difference. A girl born here occupies a top judicial position in the US and the small village is waiting to felicitate her. 
Sabita Singh, appointed judge of the District Circuit Court of Massachusetts last month, has become an icon for the people of Mureka in Saran district, about 300 km from Patna, the state capital. She is the first South Asian woman to become an American district judge.
“She is a new star for the old and the young here. After all, becoming a judge even in India for a woman is not easy, and she has become one in America
Mureka is a sleepy hamlet with 80 households. Singh went to the US as a child with her family. She got her degree from Boston University School of Law and then did a clerkship with the Massachusetts Superior Court. Prior to her appointment as district court judge, she was special counsel for criminal rights appointment in the office of the US attorney in Boston. Singh is also the founder of the Boston branch of the South Asian Bar Association, and has served as the president of the North American South Asian Bar Association (NASABA), a voluntary body catering to the needs of South Asian origin lawyers in the US. “She is an NRI with a difference. She still loves her roots, respects elders and takes time with them.