|Trinidad Chief Justice Sharma Suspended and former PM Panday faces additional charges
Trinidad and Tobago’s Chief Justice Sat Sharma was again suspended on June 13, 2007 from office pending the findings of a three-member tribunal appointed to investigate whether he should be removed from office. In July 2006, President Max Richards removed Sharma in light of a criminal charge pending against the Chief Justice. Those charges of attempting to pervert justice were dismissed on March 5, 2007 for lack of evidence when the government’s chief witness and accuser, Chief Magistrate Sherman McNicholls, refused to testify at the trial.
Former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, his wife and two businessmen has been issued additional charges of corruption. Panday and his wife, Oma, are accused of corruptly receiving money from businessmen in 1998.
GOPIO International took up Sharma’s case and organized a huge protest rally on July 31, 2006 at the United Nations in New York.
The GOPIO protest elicited massive local, regional and international publicity that highlighted the Government of Trinidad and Tobago’s illegal actions.
GOPIO Amsterdam hosts lecture series
On May 6 of this year GOPIO Chapter Amsterdam organised a discussion on a very sensitive topic called “Negotiating (In)equalities: Politics and the State in India”, as part of the India lecture series organised at the University of Amsterdam in March 2007. The discussion was initiated by a lecture given by a Mrs Dr. Jos Mooij, a lecturer at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague.
That India is the largest democracy in the world is almost a cliché, but this cliché refers to an important and interesting fact. Political scientists who have tried to understand and explain the democratic transition in Europe often refer to the emergence of a bourgeoisie.
When India became independent on August 15th, 1947 and laid down its principles of democracy in the Constitution, there was, however, no substantive bourgeoisie. There were a small elite and a very large mass of poor people. This meant that the democratic system that emerged in India was characterised by a huge contradiction: formally, there was political equality, but at the same time there was rather extreme social and economic inequality. How could this situation persist? This meeting focused on this contradiction.
Indian educationist honored with the highest French Civilian Honor
Bikas Sanyal, director of Maison de l’Inde or India House in Paris , has been honored by the French government with its highest civilian award, the Legion d’Honneur. The award, ‘Chevalier de l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur’ was bestowed on Sanyal on behalf of the French president by Jacques Friedmann, former minister and the Grand Officier of the Légion d’Honneur, in the presence of Indian Ambassador Ranjan Mathai.
Friedmann heaped praise on Sanyal for his contribution to the field of education during his long tenure with UNESCO. Friedmann said the France’s decision to honour Sanyal was another sign of the desire of the government to reinforce the friendly relations between the two countries and two ancient civilizations that France and India represent.
Since 2000, Sanyal has been at the head of the Maison de l’Inde that serves as a home away from home for young Indian students who come to Paris for education. He revived the Maison de l’Inde, which was heavily indebted when he took charge. He wiped off the debt, undertook renovation and expansion and also converted it into the quasi-official Indian Cultural Centre in Paris.
Indian NRI student wins NCAA championship
An Indian junior tennis player studying in the United States has won the NCAA championship—the blue ribbon title for collegiates—joining a scroll of winners that includes John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. Somdev Devvarman, a University of Virginia junior, pounded out a 7-6(7), 4-6, 7-6(2) win over Georgia’s John Isner to become the first Indian-American to win the NCAA title.
The three-set epic, which Devvarman won without breaking the 6 ft 10 in Isner’s serve, was described as one of the most dramatic finals in the 123-year history of the tournament that has produced several Grand Slam winners including Stan Smith and Arthur Ashe, in addition to Connors and McEnroe.
Devvarman’s win came at Isner’s home court in front of Georgia fans. He had earlier beaten Isner in the team championship clash too.
Devvarman was seeded second this year after top seed Isner, being an NCAA runner-up in 2006, when he was ranked No.8 nationally. The 22-year-old Chennai native was ranked No. 1 in India in junior singles and doubles before coming to the US for undergraduate studies.
|Indian American Anoop Prakash named to top SBA post
Indian American Anoop Prakash has been named associate administrator for the SBA’s Office of Entrepreneurial Development (OED). Prakash brings a wealth of expertise in business development, having served most recently as vice president of Strategy and Business Development for LexisNexis Special Services, Inc. in Washington, D.C., where he was responsible for strategy, marketing, and alliances for the company.
OED oversees SBA’s resource partners who provide technical and special assistance to small business owners throughout the country. Programs and services within OED’s network include Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, SCORE, Business Initiatives and the Small Business Training Network. Last year, 1.5 million people received counseling or training through SBA and its resource partners. The department is also responsible for much of the content within SBA’s website, especially as it relates to starting and growing a business. As associate administrator, Prakash will direct the implementation of policies within OED.
Indian American NGO raises funds for child-trafficking victims
An Indian American charitable organisation, Charity Network Inc (CNI) has raised $120,000 for a shelter ‘Heaven of Freedom’ which helps victims of child trafficking. At the fundraiser in Washington, DC, several paintings were auctioned off. Bill Mack’s piece of Hollywood history, a portrait of Rita Hayworth on the original Hollywood sign, went for $67,000. Howard Behrens’ painting fetched $40,000. Subhash Awchat’s figurative live painting was auctioned for $15,000.
“It was indeed heartening to see the turnout and the commitment of people to make a difference in the lives of the victims of child trafficking,” noted Lavika Bhagat Singh, chief operating officer of CNI.
Grammy award winner Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt held the audience captive with his music, while Subhash Awchat painted on canvas depicting the plight of trafficked children.
CNI has worked closely with the Department of Justice and other organizations to drive home the urgency of building a shelter as new victims are taken straight to detention centers, due to the lack of specific shelters for trafficked victims.
No change in UK’s highly skilled migrant program
British Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said there are no plans to make any change to re-orient the controversially-amended Highly Skilled Migrant Program and address the demands of an estimated 30,000 Indians who claim they were suddenly disenfranchised by the UK’s new immigration rules.
Byrne’s categorical refusal to pay heed to representations by the disenfranchised Indians comes nearly nine weeks after he promised to “reflect” on Indian HSMP visa-holders’ tales of woe. On March 26, the minister promised he would review Britain’s “retrospective” application of tough new HSMP visa rules.
The Indian-led organization representing HSMP visa-holders, HSMP Forum, said Byrne had reneged on his promise to review and had also failed to communicate his decision to them directly. They said: “The minister has disappointed many HSMP holders who have been waiting to hear from him and so were many MPs, high commissions and other dignitaries who were present during the meeting.
Byrne told a magazine that he would not backtrack on controversial amendments to the programme.
Univ. of Amsterdam to institute Indian Diaspora chair
The Indian Surinamese community accomplished a rewarding achievement by an initiative launched by the Foundation for Diaspora Chair Lalla Rookh. The University of Amsterdam will have a chair on Hindustani migrations within its Social Studies faculty.
The objective of this chair is to research the migration of contract labourers from India to Suriname and gather more information on the Indian migrants from Suriname. The first boat that left India for Suriname was called the Lalla Rookh. Until 1916 around 34,000 Indians helped maintain the plantation economy of Suriname.
Rajendre Khargi, secretary of the Foundation called the Indian migration a so-called “white stain” in Dutch history. He appealed for an increase of research about a million Indians who left India as contract labourers. The chair will be financed by the foundation for five years and depending on its success the foundation intends to finance the chair for another five years. There is a search for a lecturer preferably from the diasporic community. For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +33 623632929.