Pravasi Bharat 

nri - pio section

Steel king Mittal now wants to kick off
Laxmi Mittal, who took over French steel giant Arcelor, is eyeing another grand acquisition—English Premiership football club Birmingham City. A leading British newspaper says the 56-year-old has emerged as a serious contender to buy the club that was promoted to the top tier of the very competitive and popular league.
It is, of course, a new fad in English football to have rich foreigners acquire top clubs. Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea four years ago and then put together the most star-studded line-up in the league. At £19.25 billion, the NRI is twice as rich as the Russian billionaire.
Football may mean an altogether different sport in the US, but Manchester United and Liverpool are in American hands now. United rival Manchester City is in the midst of a takeover bid by a former Thai PM. Other elite clubs have gone out of English hands. Will an Indian join this elite club?
Mittal faces competition from an unnamed business magnate from the Far East, who is likely to place a bid this week. Birmingham City owners David Sullivan and David and Ralph Gold are keen to sell the club. They expect around £50 million.
Birmingham City is an attractive proposition after making the top tier. If it went into the care of the world’s fifth richest man, the Midlands club could be a power in English soccer, which is avidly followed by Indians. It is significant that Birmingham has a large Asian population.
The closest Indian connection to English soccer was when star striker Baichung Bhutia turned out for third-tier team FC Bury in the late 1990s. There are, of course, many Indian-origin players playing there.
NRI qualifies for elections programme
An Indian American woman candidate for New Jersey state Senate has become the first person to qualify in the state’s Fair and Clean Elections pilot programme, a system of government financing of political campaigns in the US.
Seema Singh, who is a Democratic candidate from the 14th District constituency has filed 400 contributions at $10 each to become a qualified candidate in the pilot programme, a press release said.
Under the Clean Elections programme, candidates hoping to receive public financing must collect a certain number of small “qualifying contributions” (often as little as $5) from registered voters. In return, they are paid a flat sum by the government to run their campaigns and agree not to raise money from private sources.
Once the New Jersey Elections Law Enforcement Commission certifies all 400 contributions, Singh will receive a $46,000 grant from the state to fund her campaign for the elections, due in November.
“This programme has allowed me as a first-time candidate the opportunity to enter the race with a level playing field,” Seema Singh said.
The 45-year-old immigrated to New Jersey in 1984 and went to Rutgers University and Seton Hall Law School. She practised international law with a focus on Indian and Asian communities.
Her big break came in 2002 when she became the first Indian to hold a New Jersey cabinet position.
She’s one of a record number of women running for public office in the state this year.
NRI to head Royal Institute of British Architects
Sunand Prasad, 56, will take over as president of the prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects making him the first Asian to be appointed to the post. He is currently vice-president of the institute.
Prasad was born in Dehradun and spent the first 12 years of his life in Mahatma Gandhi’s ashram as his family were actively involved in India’s freedom struggle. He moved to England at the age of 12 and later studied architecture at Cambridge University, founding his own successful London-based architectural practice.
Now a British Indian, Prasad designed a network of community treatment and care centres around Belfast and hopes to attract more people from ethnic minorities into the profession of architecture giving it the representative profile of modern Britain.
NRI honoured by US magazine
Ravi Singh, CEO of ElectionMall, a campaign and election technology company, was honoured with the Rising Star award by Campaigns and Elections, a US magazine.
ElectionMall, established in 1999, provides political parties with online tools, services and products to help them in their election campaigns. The firm is currently assisting several 2008 presidential candidates.
The award, stated Singh, is an honour that proves anything is possible in America, regardless of appearance and identity, even after the tragedy of 9/11.
Born in Aurora, Illinois, Singh was disallowed his traditional turban at the US military academy, a move that prompted the introduction of legislation that was signed in 1987 by the then president Ronald Reagan. Singh became the first Indian American Sikh to graduate from the academy as a second lieutenant with full military honours.
NRI honoured as ‘Outstanding American by Choice’
India-born Renu Khator has been recognised as an Outstanding American by Choice, an initiative of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services that recognises naturalised citizens who have made significant contributions to their community and their adopted country.
Khator is the first female provost of the University of South Florida and is only the second woman of Indian origin to receive the honour, the first being PepsiCo chief executive Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi.
Khator graduated from Kanpur University and moved to the US at the age of 18. She received her master’s and doctorate from Purdue University in political science and public administration. She is the author of five books and numerous journal articles. Her specialisations include water policy and the impact of globalisation on the environment.
The University of South Florida is the ninth largest university in the US and has over 44,000 students on its four campuses. Ms Khator was appointed provost in 2003 before which she was dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and director of the Environmental Science and Policy Programme.
NRIs in mad rush to get hitched on 7-7-7
Wedding planners and marriage venues have reported a marked increase in the number of Indian Americans, especially in Las Vegas, who want to get married on July 7 in the belief that the date, 7-7-7, has good luck written all over it. Couples have been advised that the date is truly auspicious according to the Hindu calendar.
Sonal Shah of Save the Date Event Consultants in New York said, “99.9 per cent of Indian couples who get married follow this system.”
“After conferring with all parties we chose July 7, 2007, which is not only the seventh day of the seventh month on the Western calendar, but is also the seventh day of the seventh month on the Hindu lunar calendar as well,” said an excited Amida Mehta of Richmond who is all set to tie the knot next month.
“That’s not very common. Picking an auspicious date is all in the spirit of family togetherness,” the 32-year-old said. Similarly, many first-generation Chinese-Americans have also decided to get married on July 7. But for many, like Pythagorean numerologists Glynis McCants, the date will be anything but lucky. 
“Because 7-7-2007 reduces to a five (7+7+2+0+0+7=23, then 2+3=5) and because fives are chaotic, with things never going as planned, it is a bit of a wild-card date. The average bride wants to be in control of her wedding,” McCants explained.
NRIs want Fringe Benefit Tax removed in upcoming Budget
NRIs in a number of countries have requested the Finance Minister withdraw the controversial Fringe Benefit Tax, liberalise insurance, pensions and the FDI regime in the upcoming budget.
The Fringe Benefit Tax has been a major irritant according to Hinduja Group President G.P. Hinduja. The US India Business Council is pressing for the opening up of partially closed sectors.
More appeals have been sent to India calling for a single window process for important investment areas such as infrastructure and construction.