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CONNECTING INDIA WITH ITS DIASPORA

Vol 3 Issue 1 Dec 2009-Jan 2010

PRAVASI BHARATIYA

lR;eso t;rs

Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs


www.moia.gov.in
www.overseasindian.in
MINISTRY OF OVERSEAS INDIAN AFFAIRS
CONNECTING INDIA WITH ITS DIASPORA
PRAVASI BHARATIYA SEWA
If you are an Indian living overseas and
looking at investing in India or crediting
money to banks in India, then log on to
www.nriconnect.co.in
Vol 3 Issue 1 Dec 2009-Jan 2010

PRAVASI BHARATIYA

lR;eso t;rs

izoklh Hkkjrh; dk;Z ea=ky;


Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs
lR;eso t;rs www.overseasindian.in

An initiative of the
Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs
from the editor’s desk

n the end is the beginning but time is no terminus.

I
CONNECTING INDIA WITH ITS DIASPORA
There are pauses and spells, apparent and per-
ceived, but not real. The big events, the cataclysms,
the life-changers, as it were, are the interludes, and
the aftermath, the asides. But at the end of year is a
Vol 3 Issue 1 Dec 2009-Jan 2010
blurr. Recollection, reduction, restoration, in that order
PRAVASI BHARATIYA
perhaps, but time plays such a warped artist. Never-
theless. In the continuum that time is, what remains
constant is change regardless of word, thought or deed.
Riding the cusp of that change-over, Pravasi wishes to
join you in ushering in another year of, to twist that
clichéd cricketing cliché, glorious certainties.
This year as we usher in the Eighth Pravasi
Bharatiya Divas, our thoughts go back to a little more
than a year ago to one of defining events of the centu-
ry. 26/11, as it has come to be historically named, came
on the back of a world shaken to its foundations by the
global financial crisis. It was a civilisational crisis, a
schism in human consciousness. Yet, resilience has
MINISTRY OF OVERSEAS INDIAN AFFAIRS
marked some of India’s greatest comebacks. As Guru-
raj “Desh” Deshpande extolling the power of hope in his
Printed and Published by reflections on an India of the future, says, “India holds
Mithlesh Kumar on behalf of the a reservoir of promise.” It is this powerful undercurrent
Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs of hope is what has held India together, notwithstand-
Akbar Bhavan, Chanakyapuri, ing crises that have sought to undermine India’s nation-
New Delhi — 110021
hood. India as a nation may be some distance from
Website: http://moia.gov.in
www.overseasindian.in India as a country, which is perhaps natural, given the of the Moghul Empire and the advent of the British and a new paradigm and moving towards a Caribbean iden-
amazing fabric that constitutes India, its warp and weft other Western colonial powers. It was soon to be fol- tity, without losing its sense of nostalgia in terms of
Consulting Editor woven in strands dating back to over five millennia. It lowed by the rise of the United States. The rest was his- its socio-cultural roots.” In fact, Dookeran’s forefathers
K.G. Sreenivas is this overriding supernal consciousness that has tory. With the British establishing dominion over were among 148,000 East Indians who were sourced by
defined the idea of India, not in any narrow sectarian India, the country’s economic powers were laid waste the then British Colonial Government between 1845
Pravasi Bharatiya is a monthly sense, but in all encompassing, cosmopolitan spiritual as vital resources were pulled out of the country by the and 1917, principally from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar
publication. The views expressed in this sense. British colonial masters. It was a systematic deprada- after the Europeans and Chinese failed to help sta-
journal are those of the contributors and In what is an apposite moment to revisit history, tion of sorts which snuffed the life out of the vital sec- bilise a failing agricultural economy.
do not necessarily reflect the views of the
especially under the dual duress of global terror and a tors of the economy, the most affected being agricul- It is classic Diasporic introspection — on questions
Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA).
global economic crisis, that had indeed weighed upon ture. Following Independence, it took a few decades for of identity, memory and cultural moorings. But Dook-
All rights reserved. No part of this journal may
be produced, stored, or transmitted in any India, Pravasi chose to revisit the annals of India’s eco- India to recoup its historical losses. eran says, “I think the country, by and large, has now
form or by any means — electronic, nomic history. The study was revelatory and presented Today, though not unaffected by the global econom- assimilated the acceptance of the Indian presence as a
mechanical, photocopying, recording, us with astonishing insights into one of the oldest and ic crisis, India has perhaps emerged as the finest exam- permanent feature of the Caribbean society.” In fact,
or otherwise, without the permission of MOIA. most formidable economic powers of the world. What ple of calibrated resilience, foresight and prescience. it is such an acceptance that has produced world-class
perhaps many young Indians may not know is that for It is regarded as a full-fledged knowledge economy and leaders of Indian origin in the world-over. Pravasi fea-
Editorial correspondence and several hundred years, India was the world’s largest a formidable economic power. As the Pravasi tures some of them in Arun Kumar’s notes from Wash-
manuscripts can be addressed to economy. In fact, India in the pre-colonial period had a Bharatiya Divas unfolds, we believe the story of India ington. Indians today are increasingly becoming world
pravasi.bharatiya@gmail.com stable and vibrant economy and enjoyed an astonishing would continue to fascinate and engage the Diaspora. citizens, shaping the contours of the discourse on glob-
trade surplus with the rest of the world. Self-sufficient Needless to say, India has miles to go before it can be al issues.
Designed and produced by IANS
agriculture, flourishing trade and rich handicraft indus- truly adjudged a first among equals. In fact, most delegates who are attending the Pravasi
(www.ianspublishing.com) on behalf of
the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. tries — these were some of the features of the Indian This special issue of Pravasi presents you some Bharatiya Summit-2009, figure among those —a worthy
economy. interesting vignettes from the Diasporic world. “The list of thinkers and doers who are shaping world opin-
Printed at According to economic historian Angus Maddison, East Indian Diaspora in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) ion on issues impacting our politics, economies and
ANA PRINT-O-GRAFIX PVT LTD India, in economic terms, was the world’s largest econ- must not simply be a pressure group, but must now environment.
T-B, A-Wing omy in the first millennium, accounting for a third of play its part in shaping the national citizenry with all This special issue of Pravasi brings to you a range
Okhla Industrial Area, Phase-II the world’s gross domestic product. By the 1500s, India’s sectors of the population — Africans, European, Mid- of interesting reading, straddling the worlds of the
New Delhi-110020 share fell to 25 percent, as China overtook it even as dle East and Chinese. This is a multi-cultural society Written Word, the Moving Image, and the Experiential
Western Europe’s share began to expand rapidly. with a unique, rich and powerful heritage which must World!
China’s trade relations had had far-reaching ramifica- be supported,” says Winston Dookeran, former Acting Pravasi welcomes you all to this amazing congre-
tions and, in fact, it must be noted that it is reaping the Prime Minister and Governor of the Central Bank of gration of minds and looks forward to an enriching
benefits of a relationship it had, for instance, estab- T&T, in a conversation with noted Trinidadian writer engagement. Wish you all a great New Year of
izoklh Hkkjrh; dk;Z ea=ky; lished with Africa in the 1500s and 1600s. and commentator Paras Ramoutar. In a reflective mus- ‘glorious certainties’.
Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs Meanwhile, India’s share in the global trade matrix ing, Dookeran envisages that the Diaspora has, “a chal-
www.overseasindian.in
continued to slide after 1700 in the wake of the collapse lenge to become a partner... an equal partner forging —K.G. Sreenivas

4 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 5
contents TRAVEL
80
PARADISO GOA
A favourite haunt of domestic
and international travellers
alike, Goa is truly a delightful
place. Explore its natural
beauty and indulge yourself in

16
its vibrant lifestyle...

POWER OF HOPE
India holds a reservoir of promise and entrepreneurial initiatives should be allowed to 30 CINEMA
solve the socio-economic problems of the country, says Gururaj Deshpande Memory,
Identity, YEARNING
60
S for SCRIPT
ECONOMY DIASPORA The Indian Diaspora in T&T can PHILANTHROPHY
forge a new Caribbean identity, not STAR
former Acting Prime Minister
Winston Dookeran tells
Paras Ramoutar
It was a year that saw audiences
rejecting big-budgeted senseless
films and intelligent movies
24
Empowering
making it to the top... For once,
the script was the king and the WIDOWS
CULTURE stars failed to shine in front of it...
Raj Loomba, Founder and
Chairman Trustee, The Loomba
Trust, reflects on how the
BOOKS
44 52
Widening 36 88
Indian Diaspora can be an
agent of transformation

Back to the
FUTURE
Right up to 1700 A.D., India
HORIZONS
Having weathered the
On top of
THE WORLD
68 A matter of FACT
Spirituality, politics, business
was one of the world’s largest
slowdown, exports are set
From Aneesh Chopra to Kal Penn,
Wedding COLOURS and motivation... the year 2009 NEWS...............................8
for positive growth in 2010 turned out to be an impressive
economies and then stagnated Sonal Shah to Rajiv Shah... 2009 Indian weddings are a heady SCARS TO CZARS..............40
as the rate of decline drops year for non-fiction books.
for nearly 200 years during the marked the stupendous rise of cocktail of ceremony and ritual. THE PEANUT PRINCE OF
considerably, says
colonial era. The country is Indian Americans in the US while The colours and the emotions, the ARGENTINA ....................20
Sushma Ramachandran
once again emerging as an President Barack Obama set out food, the music and the jazz, all
economic giant, says Arjun Sen to build bridges around the world make it an affair of a lifetime... NEWSMAKERS................94

6 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 7
retrospect

REACHING
OUT TO THE
DIASPORA
In an effort to facilitate sustained interaction of
overseas Indians with India and offer them a
wide variety of services in social, economic,
and cultural matters, MOIA set up a few more
institutional arrangements in 2008-09

Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi at a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the India Development Foundation
nto its sixth year, the Ministry legislation, enable portability of ensuing years. Fifty percent of the

I
in New Delhi.
of Overseas Indian Affairs pension and prevent loss of benefits seats in the university will be
(MOIA) has taken some fresh by providing for totalisation of reserved for PIOs while the Indian innovative projects. The foundation Denmark. Negotiations are likely to Migrant Resource Centre
initiatives to connect with the contribution periods. students will be eligible to seek leads Diaspora philanthropic commence with some select member Migrant Resource Centres have
overseas Indian community in a admission for the remaining seats. capital into India’s social sector by states of the European Union for been established in Cochin in
more organised and friendlier way. Bilateral Labour MoUs The University will also help in forging partnerships between similar mobility partnerships. Kerala and Hyderabad in Andhra
The fresh initiatives will not only The Ministry has been negotiating developing comprehensive bilateral donors and credible non- Pradesh under the Asia-EU Project
help transform migration manage- bilateral labour MoUs with links with India through the active government and non-profit Indian Community on legal migration. The objective of
ment into an orderly process important destination countries to association of the Diaspora. voluntary organisations working in Welfare Fund the MRCs is to provide information
through appropriate domestic secure their cooperation in the social sector in India. The ICWF provides funds to the and counselling services to
interventions and international ensuring protection and welfare of Indian Council Indian Missions in all the 17 ECR potential migrants seeking
cooperation but also extend the Indian workers. An MoU has for Overseas Employment Global Indian Network countries to support a wide gamut employment in overseas countries.
institutional support for individual been signed with Malaysia to The Indian Council for Overseas of Knowledge of welfare services for overseas Similar MRCs are going to be
initiatives and community action to provide facilitation of employment Employment (ICOE), a non-profit, A Global Indian Network of Indian workers. The welfare established in other parts of the
harness the knowledge, skills and of workers between two countries has been registered under the Knowledge (Global-INK) was services include shelters for run- country in a phased manner.
investible resources of overseas and protection and welfare of all Societies Registration Act, 1860. launched by Prime Minister Dr. away/distressed workers, operation
Indians. Some of the fresh initiatives categories of workers under the The council will serve as a “think Manmohan Singh at PBD 2009. The of Indian workers resource centres E-governance Project
launched are: labour laws of the host country. tank” for the government on Global-INK serves as an electronic with a 24/7 helpline to provide A project has been taken up by
Similar MoUs have been signed International migration. It will knowledge transfer platform to information and advice to needy MOIA to transform the emigration
Bilateral social with Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and cater to the matters relating to generate new ideas on issues such workers and providing relief under process through e-governance. The
security agreements the U.A.E., which provide for better overseas employment markets for as development, education and unforeseen situations. project is being implemented
Initiated by MOIA, the protection and welfare of Indian Indians and overseas Indian healthcare. through the National Institute of
Government has recently entered workers in those countries. Efforts workers. It is expected to give Overseas Workers’ Smart Government, Hyderabad.
into Social Security Agreements are under way to commence impetus to informed policy making Labour Mobility Resource Centre The NISG will carry out systems
with the Netherlands, Denmark negotiations with other major relating to International migration. Partnership Agreement An Overseas Workers’ Resource review, business process re-
and Luxembourg. India has already destinations countries also. It is the policy of the Ministry to Centre was inaugurated by the engineering, preparation of bid
signed SSAs with France, Belgium India Development diversify the overseas destination Prime Minister at PBD 2008. The documents and supervision of
and Germany while agreements PIO/NRI University Foundation base for Indian workers and secure OWRC is based in New Delhi and implementation of e-Governance.
have been concluded with the The Cabinet has approved the The India Development labour market access for them in operates a 24/7 helpline to provide Under the project, an integrated
Czech Republic, Hungary, Norway establishment of the PIO/NRI Foundation of Overseas Indians countries where employment information and assistance to process will be developed linking
and Canada and are expected to be University in Bangalore by the (IDF-OI), a not-for-profit Trust, has opportunities would emerge in potential emigrants and their all stakeholders and defining
signed soon. Social Security Manipal Academy of Higher been established. Headed by the future. For this purpose, the families. parameters and standards for each
Agreements (SSA) eliminate double Education Trust, Manipal. Minister of Overseas Indian Ministry is pursuing Labour The helpline provides services in component of the process at the
payment of social security A first of its kind, the PIO/NRI Affairs, the foundation provides a Mobility Partnership agreements seven languages through toll free level of every stakeholder.
contributions, exempt detached university is expected to grow into credible single window for with several countries. A mobility access. The OWRC toll-free number The project is likely to be
workers from host country a world-class institution in the Diaspora philanthropy through partnership has been signed with is: 1800-11-3090. completed by 2010.

8 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 9
news

Heat on illegal migration


MOIA calls for coordinated action between missions to stop menace
he Government is trying to

T stop illegal migration by


targeting the “nefarious
activities of Indian inter-
mediaries” in other countries, Min-
ister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vay-
alar Ravi said in New Delhi on
November 26.
“We are taking legislative and
administrative measures to deal
firmly with irregular migration,”
Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Ravi said at a meeting with the
Vayalar Ravi (centre) with the heads of Indian missions to coun-
delegates at the 8th Asia-Europe tries with a large population of Indi-
Meeting (ASEM) at Goa an workers like Libya, Malaysia,
Yemen, the Maldives and the Gulf.
“One of the reasons for irregular

‘MIGRANT
are doing, are short-sighted and will migration is the nefarious activities
delay the recovery from the of Indian intermediaries from the
economic crisis,” Ravi said, adding host countries. I have written to our Minister Ravi asked missions to
it was imperative that influential missions in this regard in the past,” work on schemes for insurance of Rules for job ads
policymakers in Europe and Asia he said. Ravi said he wanted the overseas workers.
to be amended
workers matter’
meet to discuss opportunities to missions to “get after such The Ministry already has a
enhance international cooperation unscrupulous elements, collect Pravasi Bima Yojana, which all aking serious note of how
and maximise the benefits of
migration on development.
Thirty delegates from 12 Asian
intelligence and share information
with the Indian enforcement agen-
cies so that they could be prosecut-
migrants have to take to qualify for

‘One of the reasons


T Tahawwur Hussain Rana, the
accomplice of suspected
Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist David
Minister for overnments adopting pro- countries and 30 delegates from 18 ed under Indian law”. He said the

G
Coleman Headley, issued emigra-
tectionist immigration European countries attended the Ministry of External Affairs was for irregular tion job advertisements in English
Overseas Indian policies end up deepening ASEM conference. already “taking proactive action to dailies, the Ministry of Overseas
the negative impact of the The Minister said India was a impound their passports if informa- migration is the Indian Affairs (MOIA) plans to
Affairs Vayalar economic crisis, Minister for Over-
seas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi
major country of origin and desti-
nation with several hundreds of
tion regarding pending criminal
cases against them is furnished”.
nefarious activities amend the rules governing issu-
ing such advertisements. Under
Ravi says such said on December 1, adding migrant years of experience in migration and The Minister said if there was of Indian the rules, the Protector General of
workers fill workers from countries like India the Indian diaspora stood at nearly coordinated action between the mis-
intermediaries
Emigrants (PGoE) has to monitor
fill labour supply gaps that cannot 25 million persons spread across 110 sions and the state governments, it all emigration job advertisements
labour supply be met by the local workforce. countries worldwide. would go a long way in combating
from the host for Emigration Check Required
Ravi said that irregular migration “We are also host to over 20 irregular migration. (ECR) countries, such as
gaps that often had increasing social and security million immigrants, many of who The Minister also expressed con- countries...’ Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen,
ramifications which were “well are irregular. They have made India cern about the welfare of migrants among 18 nations.
cannot be met by beyond mere law enforcement”. their home and contribute in full after they returned to India and said The Ministry is now planning to
Delivering the inaugural address measure to our pluralistic society,” he was working towards establish- an emigration check required stamp get the PGoE to monitor such job
local workers at the 8th Asia-Europe Meeting Minister Ravi said. ing a Return and Resettlement on their passports. ads, even for ECNR (Emigration
(ASEM) on migration and develop- He also said proper management Fund. However, the number of claims Check Not Required) countries,
ment at The Lalit resort in Goa, Ravi of migration can help offset the “Our workers in the Gulf are tem- filed in this central scheme is low, such as the United States, and
said the global economic downturn structural imbalances which have porary, contractual workers. Typi- with individual embassies coming others in Europe.
had unfortunately resulted “in pop- been created in international labour cally they are poor, indebted, spend up with customised insurance “Presently, job advertisements
ulist policies that immigration is markets due to ageing populations several years in harsh living and schemes. for Emigration Check Required
bad, and that immigrants are the in several nations. working conditions, and often “We have left it to the missions to countries are monitored by the
cause of rising domestic unemploy- “The share of agriculture and return in poor health and with no decide on what kind of insurance Protector of Emigrants,” Minister
ment”. “Nothing can be further from industry is declining and that of the savings. This is the frightening scheme they want to operate,” Min- for Overseas Indian Affairs Vay-
the truth. Migrant workers fill services sector is growing rapidly, prospect that thousands of workers ister Ravi said, adding he had asked alar Ravi said, adding that the
labour supply gaps that often cannot creating new job opportunities,” he returning from the Gulf face,” he missions to use the recently estab- Ministry was looking at ways to
be met by local workers,” he said. said. Over the last 12 years, the said. The new fund, he suggested, lished Indian Community Welfare make the same rules applicable
“Raising protectionist barriers to ASEM has been the main multilat- could be a contribution-based Funds, a self-financing scheme to for recruitment in other countries
the movement of natural persons as eral channel for communication scheme to provide incentives for the provide support to emigrants in as well.
a policy response, as some nations between Asia and Europe. return of overseas workers. distress.

10 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 11
news

US visit productive: PM Aapka Swagat Hai


work together for world peace and
Obama’s toast for India
stability on the basis of our shared
values, consensus and cooperation.”
Terrorism and the situation in
Pakistan dominated the discussions,
with the two countries signing a
pact on counter-terror cooperation
to advance global security.
Dr. Singh expressed appreciation
for the U.S. support over investiga-
tions into the Mumbai attacks and
its diplomatic pressure on Pakistan nder a glowing white tiful thing in the universe are the President Joe Biden, Secretary of
to bring the perpetrators of the
Mumbai carnage to justice. “Obama
was very conscious and aware of the
threats both our countries face from
terrorism, and the need for us to
U marqee with a glass ceil-
ing and chandeliers,
U.S. President Barack
Obama toasted Indian Prime Min-
ister Dr. Manmohan Singh on the
starry heavens above us and the
feeling of duty within us. Mr.
Prime Minister, today we worked
to fulfil our duty to bring our coun-
tries closer together than ever
State Hillary Clinton, and Defence
Secretary Robert Gates, were also
present.
Indian billionaires Ratan Tata
and Mukesh Ambani, Indra Nooyi,
work together to combat it,” he said. White House lawns at the first state before,” Obama said to ringing CEO of Pepsi, Anish Goel, South
“We have agreed to strengthen dinner of his Presidency to applause from a star-studded audi- Asia expert in Obama’s National
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh meeting US President Barack Obama
at the White House in Washington on November 24, 2009 cooperation in the area of counter- celebrate the “great and growing ence of over 320 guests. Chants of Security Council, and Rajat Gupta
terrorism,” he added. friendship” between India and the A.R. Rehman's Jai Ho resonated in of McKinsey fame, were all there.
On China, Obama assured United States. the marquee. The guest list includ- Dr. Singh reciprocated Obama’s
Dr. Singh that a reference to South “Aapka Swagat Hai (you are wel- ed some of the most powerful and greetings, saying he was over-
After his first summit rime Minister Dr. Manmo- Asia in the joint statement issued come),” said the daal-loving talented Indians and Americans. whelmed by the courtesy extended

talks with Obama,


Dr. Manmohan Singh
P han Singh wrapped up a
“very productive” state visit
to the U.S. with assurances
of support from President Barack
Obama on countering terrorism
after Obama’s visit to China “does
not mean that third powers should
interfere in the affairs of South
Asia”. He was “satisfied” on this
count. The Prime Minister said he
Obama, in a slightly accented
Hindi, setting the perfect mood for
Washington’s most discussed social
event. “In India, some of life’s most
precious moments are often cele-
Actors Alfre Woodard and Blair
Underwood, legendary filmmaker
Steven Spielberg, Indian-American
auteur M. Night Shyamalan, and
musician A.R. Rehman, competed
to them and the grace and charm of
First Lady Michelle Obama.
If Obama invoked Gandhi and
Nehru, Dr. Singh recalled the
words of Abraham Lincoln in a
said he was confident emanating from Pakistan, early com- had discussed several ideas on how brated under the cover of a beauti- for attention with writer Jhumpa heart-felt tribute. Dr. Singh also
that India and the pletion of their landmark civil nucle- “we can work together to accelerate ful tent. It’s a little like (that) Lahiri, Nobel laureate Amartya praised Obama for winning the
ar deal and allaying of concerns over global economic recovery and put it tonight,” Obama told Dr. Singh. Sen, author Thomas Friedman and Nobel Peace Prize.
United States will Chinese role in South Asia. on a more sustainable and balanced “It’s been said that the most beau- new age guru Deepak Chopra. Vice- — Manish Chand/Washington
A day after he held wide-ranging path in the future”.
“not only continue discussions with Obama to forge a Welcoming Obama’s strong com-
“defining partnership of the 21st mitment to ensuring a comprehen-
but strengthen the
momentum of
century”, Dr. Singh told the media
on November 25 that he was confi-
dent that India and the U.S. will
sive and balanced outcome at the cli-
mate change meeting in Copen-
hagen, he said: “We have agreed to
‘India on the move’ dians who had gathered in large
numbers to listen to Dr. Singh.
Earlier, during his visit to the US,
“not only continue but strengthen work together bilaterally and with Dr. Singh acknowledged the contri-
relations built up over the momentum of relations built up all other countries to ensure this uring his visit to Port-of- bution of the Indian community in
the past few years” over the past few years”.
At his first summit talks with
Obama, Dr. Singh said they had
agreed on the early and full imple-
mentation of their landmark civil
outcome.” India and US, he said, had
“established a framework for taking
our relations forward”, and stressed
on priorities for future collaboration
in agriculture, education, health,
D Spain, Prime Minister Dr.
Manmohan Singh gave a
call to the nearly million
persons of Indian origin in the
Caribbean region to be “active part-
the United States in building better
ties with India. “Our relations at the
people-to-people level are of great sig-
nificance,” he said in an interview
with CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” in
nuclear deal. There were a “few clean energy and energy security, ners” in “a new India” and lauded Washington on November 22 when
minor problems” relating to an defence, science and technology. overseas Indians for promoting asked if the relationship between
agreement on reprocessing of nucle- Referring to his “very good inter- Brand India. Indian and American societies was
ar fuel, he said, adding: “I am confi- action with American business lead- “Today’s India is on the move, just Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan actually now stronger than that
dent that we can sort out these ers”, Dr. Singh said they showed as the people of Indian origin are on Singh at a community reception between the two governments.
things in the next few weeks.” keenness to expand business with the move. India is reaching out to the hosted by Indian Ambassador to the “The fact that there is a large com-
Obama recognised the important India. He, in turn, reaffirmed to world with confidence,” Dr. Singh US, Meera Shankar, in Washington munity in the US, people of Indian
on November 25
role India-U.S. relations can play in them New Delhi’s commitment to told over 400 people at a reception origin, the way they have contribut-
meeting the global challenges of the facilitate foreign investment in India organised in his honour at the grand the world. You are, for millions of ed to the U.S. economy, I think has
21st century, and said: “We agreed and pursue key reform measures. Crowne Plaza hotel on November 26. Indians, the most visible symbol of changed the image of India,” he said.
that there is a historic opportunity — Arun Kumar & Manish “In reaching out to People of Indian our own globalisation,” he said to — Manish Chand in Port-of -Spain
for India and the United States to Chand/Washington Origin, we are also reaching out to ringing applause from Indo-Trinida- & Arun Kumar in Washington

12 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 13
reflections

Reflections
India exemplifies a reservoir of hope and the potential to
create role models and sustainable capacities...

14 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 15
reflections

People in India, involved in global business,


are now confident and capable. If we connect
them to the appropriate problems, they will
bring innovative solutions and feel good
about what they are doing...

India. India has two things: big without merit, but what is it that things, many NRIs who had made
numbers (scale) and low affordabil- can make it truly inclusive and their home abroad chose to return
ity. This means that the encompassing, ensuring the buoyed by the changes sweeping
entrepreneurs (both in the for-prof- cardinal principles enshrined in India in terms of opportunities,
it and non-profit) sectors have to the Constitution, of social justice, environment and governance.
come up with solutions that are of equity and development? Have these changes, in your view,
high quality but of unbelievably been sufficiently institutionalised?
low costs. This is where there is a A small section of the Indian
lot of innovation happening in population is involved in global There is always more that you
India. I am involved with Akshaya business. They solve global issues can do. However, it is a natural
Patra, an organisation that pro- out of India. We have to challenge force and doesn’t need much inter-
MAN ON A MISSION: Gururaj vides hot mid-day meals to children them and pull them into solving the vention. If we want to accelerate the
‘Desh’ Deshpande (right) and his in government schools. They start- problems of the under-privileged. process, we need to improve the
wife Jayashree at the Deshpande ed out in 2000 and today they are What we are doing in India is not physical infrastructure and the
Center for Social Entrepreneurship
serving 1.2 million meals every day. able to serve the under-privileged. streamline the bureaucracy; the
They use best global practices in We need to bring a fresh outlook same things we need to help accel-
supply chains, procurement, engi- and innovation to the solutions. erate development for people in

POWER OF HOPE neering and accounting to accom-


plish this task at an unbelievably
low cost of $28 to feed a child for the
whole academic year. India needs to
encourage and promote such ini-
tiatives. There is no reason why we
People in India, involved in global
business, are now confident and
capable. If we connect them to the
appropriate problems, they will
bring innovative solutions and feel
good about what they are doing and
India trying to do new things.

Let us take a view from the con-


trarian spectrum. How do you
think can we make development
“rural oriented”. Traditionally,
othing that is worth doing Excerpts: cannot have an Akshaya Patra like also it can be a lot of fun. in India we have talked about the
India holds a
reservoir of promise
and entrepreneurial
initiatives should
N is ever easy irrespective
of where you do it in the
world. This effort needs
patience and consistent work. This
is not to say that the country should
You have spent most part of your
lifetime in the United States —
something which gives you a
dispassionate point of view and
initiative for every intervention we
need to improve the lives of the
under-privileged.

Not that India’s development pro-


From the economic point of view,
it’s been a paradigm shift for
India starting the 90s. Come the
2000s, the transformation has
trickle-down effect, both within
urban societies, and between
urban centres and rural periph-
eries. How can and should we
situate development in the rural
not make it easy for NRIs to do work therefore, indeed a valuable cess may be entirely faulty or been multi-faceted. Among other heartlands of India?
be allowed to solve in India. However, compared to any perspective on India. What in
the socio-economic other country in the world, I am your view could transform the
very impressed with the local lead- process of development in India?
problems of the ership in India...,” says Gururaj
country, says “Desh” Deshpande, referring to the
environment that India has for gen-
Transformation requires the two
critical sides to it:
Deshpande Centre for Social Entrepreneurship
Gururaj Deshpande uine developmental initiatives. In a) Creating the right environment ince inception, the Deshpande innovation, scalability and Deshpande Foundation programs
an interview with K.G. Sreenivas,
Desh adds that entrepreneurial ini-
tiatives should be allowed to solve
and the ecosystem;
b) Letting entrepreneurial initia-
tives to solve problems.
S Foundation has expanded its
reach to include a number of
progressive programmes designed to
entrepreneurship and applying them to
social objectives, the DCSE desires to
make a global impact on civil society.
fostering social entrepreneurship,
including Social Entrepreneurs in
Residence, the Deshpande Fellowship
problems. In terms of setting the right envi- foster entrepreneurial aptitude and a The DCSE hosts and supports Program, the Leaders Accelerating
Gururaj Deshpande is the co- ronment, it is building the infras- passion to purse social justice developing entrepreneurs, encouraging Development (LEAD) Scholarship
founder and chairman of Sycamore tructure (roads, water, energy, com- through social enterprise. In an effort them to use one another as sounding Program, our Social Entrepreneurship
Networks, Inc, and a dedicated com- munications) all the way to rural to coordinate these endeavours, the boards, build and experiment with Course offerings and more.
munitarian. An influential technolo- India. Making the government Foundation has established a cutting- prototypes and generate brand new We are excited to jump into our
gy entrepreneur whose companies more transparent so that the poli- edge programme, the Deshpande concepts designed to address inaugural year and anticipate much
and ideas have reshaped entire cies, and the resources spent by the Center for Social Entrepreneurship development issues. growth. Please check back often!
industries, Deshpande is an ideas government are more effective. (DCSE). The DSCE will function as the nerve (Courtesy: www.deshpande
man seeking to drive development In terms of entrepreneurial ini- By embracing the concepts of center for all activities related to foundation.org)
through creative entrepreneurship. tiatives, I see a lot of promise in

16 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 17
reflections

provide social service. The Diaspo- ership in India. In India you can
ra can bring their resources and find people who are compassionate,
The Diaspora
skills to work with the NGO part-
ners to turbo-charge the innovation
very committed to their cause, are
smart, open-minded and can get
can bring their
in those sectors to reduce the cost
of service, raise the quality, and
things done. Just a little bit of cheer-
leading and financial support to
resources and
scale up the number of beneficia- these individuals can create magic. skills to work with
ries they serve.
A rhetorical question this — what the NGO partners to
There have been many NRIs who are three things India needs as a
have set up enterprise, taking country to transform itself into a turbo-charge the
advantage of India’s changing
environment. There are many
nation? Or let us say take India to
the next level of development. I
innovation in those
others who have set up, for exam-
ple, rural development initiatives
am assuming India is some dis-
tance away from becoming a
sectors to scale
and micro-credit programmes. nation in its truest sense. up the number of
Many have reported formidable
challenges — both traditional a) We need to change the mindset beneficiaries
and institutional — in doing so. of people and show them what is
What has been your experience possible. There are a lot things they
and what are the moral resources can do which will improve their that their kids can do better. Every
you would need to negotiate the lives if they can change their mind- street, every village now has exam-
territory. sets. This will not need any more ples of individuals who have moved
resources; b) A culture of “saying on and done well. They become the
I am an entrepreneur. An what they mean and meaning what role models for the whole village.
entrepreneur accepts the situation they say;” c) A bringing together of The feeling that the rest of the
as they are and gets through the different classes of society. Bringing world cares and that their kids can
hurdles with perseverance and the the educated and the uneducated, do better is a feeling that can
strength of conviction. Nothing that rich and the poor. They can all col- become the true asset of India. In
is worth doing is ever easy irre- lectively solve problems without too many parts of the world where
Deshpande and Jayashree interacting with a team of young and budding social entrepreneurs spective of where you do it in the anyone having to lose in the process. the per capita income is higher than
world. This effort needs patience in India, people have lost hope and
and consistent work. This is not to Finally, can we quantify hope? are more than willing to kill them-
We should promote We should promote education and
entrepreneurial opportunities in
meals for schoolchildren) and
Agastya (teaching the sciences
say that the country should not
make it easy for NRIs to do the work
Hope to me means a feeling that
“things will be better”, “something
selves. The only way to fix those
problems is to bring HOPE to those
education and rural India. There are so many low-
hanging fruits that we can grab to
to schoolchildren) are the two
programmes that have scaled. We
in India. However, compared to any
other country in the world, I am
to look forward to”. In India, the
poor may not feel that their lives
countries. If India can do it to its
own people, it can become a beacon
entrepreneurial improve the lives of people in rural hope to see several more pro- very impressed with the local lead- will get better soon, but they do feel of HOPE for the rest of the world.
India. grammes to scale to serve millions
opportunities Our foundation (www.Deshpande- in the next few years.

in rural India. foundation.org) is supporting 70


such initiatives in Hubli/Dharwad,
Karnataka. We call this initiative a
When we fund a programme, we
hope that it will have an exit in one
of two ways: It either becomes a
Deshpande Foundation
There are so many “Social Entrepreneurship Sand- part of the free-market economy. Mission and Vision innovative leaders with a new idea, change and improve society. In the
low-hanging fruits box”. We now have a critical mass
of activity. We hope that creative
The need is delivered at a cost point
where the beneficiary can pay for it
The Deshpande Foundation is the
family Foundation of Gururaj
product or service that can poten-
tially benefit millions of people and
long term, a region will continue to
thrive as long as it has a vibrant base
that we can grab to solutions will come out of this
effort that can benefit all of India
and the provider can make a profit
to sustain and grow the service
(“Desh”) and Jaishree Deshpande, of
Andover, MA. Founded in 1996, the
change entire industries. Whether it
is ground-breaking research on the
of budding entrepreneurs, and the
Foundation strives to create such an
improve the lives and hopefully all of the world. Or, it becomes a part of the gov- Deshpande Foundation is one of the next generation of technologies or a environment in the places it oper-
ernment programme. That is, the leading philanthropic Foundations in more cost-effective idea for interna- ates.
of people in You have considerably invested non-profit organisation has bro- Massachusetts and India in the areas tional development, the Deshpande
your time and energy in rural ught an innovation that demon- of innovation, entrepreneurship and Foundation believes that innovation Growth: The Deshpande Foundation
rural India education and healthcare. What strates how to effectively provide international development. Through lies at the heart of our ability to focuses time, energy and resources
has been your takeaway? What a service at a cost that the govern- its grantmaking, the Deshpande grow, succeed and make lasting on helping the best ideas,
replicable models can we build ment can afford to provide the Foundation has helped launch inno- impact on the world. researchers, entrepreneurs and orga-
and institutionalise? What per- service. vative companies, helped NGOs nizations to scale up their activities
haps were the best models of develop an international presence Entrepreneurship: Based on 30 to rapidly increase their reach. It is
delivery and the best models of From a disaporic point of view, and launched partnerships with years of experience as technology critical that successful ideas and
self-sustaining delivery? how can the diaspora effectively some of the most remarkable entrepreneurs in the United States, leaders gain the infrastructure and
participate in India’s develop- change agents in the world today. Canada and India, the Trustees of support they need to achieve their
Our experimentation started five ment and development models? the Deshpande Foundation have long-term vision of change.
years ago. It will take some more The diaspora can start new busi- Innovation: The Deshpande Foun- come to believe in the powerful role (Courtesy: www.deshpande
time to see the fruits of this effort. ness ventures. Employing people dation develops partnerships with that the entrepreneur can play to foundation.org)
So far, Akshaya Patra (mid-day and creating jobs is a great way to

18 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 19
experience

THE PEANUT PRINCE


OF ARGENTINA

Simmerpal Singh (left) with two of his key executives at his peanut farm

uring my golf game at the handsome with his turban. When he

D Rio Cuarto Country Club in


Buenos Aires recently, the
Argentine players asked
me where they could buy a turban
and how to wear it. I asked them the
goes to the night clubs, he gets
premium service and gets it free
because they think he is a
maharaja.”
The Argentines wanted to wear
reason for this special interest. They turbans and get the same special
showed me a villa within the country treatment at the nightclubs.
club complex and said: “Here lives The envy of the Argentines is
an Indian maharaja. He looks Simmarpal Singh, a Sikh from India.

Simmarpal Singh works 16 hours a day and Simmerpal employs 140 Argentines,
has no time for nightclubs. This modest young most of them in the processing plants.
man from Amritsar has fiery ambitions, In the farm, he has very few people since
exceptional talents and is motivated by
R. Viswanathan
his success in the last five years, says the farming in Argentina is mechanised
R. Viswanathan Simmerpal Singh
and everything is outsourced...

20 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 21
experience
This year (2009),
I clarified to the Argentines that
turbans do not mean maharajas.
to sell their products to established
companies and were hesitant to deal
Simmerpal
They asked me to shut up and not to with new buyers, he proposed to his cultivated 17,000
reveal this secret at the nightclubs! I company that they should go into
told them that Simmarpal is not a farming themselves. This was hectares including
maharaja by birth but has become a something new for the company
“Peanut Prince” of Argentina. which had been operating only in 2,000 hectares in the
Simmarpal cultivates 12,000 the field of trading and processing.
hectares of peanut farms and Seeing the fire in Simmarpal’s
province of Salta
another 5,000 hectares of soya and
corn in Rio Cuarto area in Cordoba
belly and shine in his eyes, they
wanted to give him a chance. He
about 700 km from
province, about 1,000 km from
Buenos Aires.
started off with leasing 700 hectares
of land and grew peanuts. It was a
Rio Cuarto. He has
His target is to take his company success. The company let him lease plans to continue the
Olam among Argentina’s top three additional acreage.
peanut players in the next few years. This year, he has cultivated 17,000 increase in acreage
When he came to Argentina in 2005, hectares including 2,000 hectares in
his company was 28th in ranking in the province of Salta about 700 km and grow other crops
peanuts and he has already made it
sixth this year.
from Rio Cuarto. He has plans to
continue the increase in acreage and
such as wheat, soya
Argentina is the second largest
exporter of peanuts after China,
grow other crops such as wheat, soya
and pulses. Some of these and
and pulses...
accounting for 25 percent of the especially pulses could be exported
world trade in kernels. Rio Cuarto to India.
region produces high-quality He employs 140 Argentines, most of
peanuts with its ideal soil and them in the processing plants. In the
agroclimatic conditions. farm, he has very few people since
During dinner at his home, the farming in Argentina is
Simmarpal’s wife Harpreet Kaur, an mechanised and everything is
architect with an M.Tech from IIT outsourced.
Delhi, laughed when he told her What Simmarpal is doing in
about the Argentine interest in Argentina has a lesson for India,
turbans. She said that Simmarpal which is going to face in the long- PEANUT harvesting underway at
might have gone to the nightclub to term shortage of agricultural land Simmerpal’s farm the most advanced in the world and
check the peanuts his company had
supplied to the club to serve with the
and water for irrigation for its globally competitive. For example,
the oil crushing capacity of
India-Argentina set $3bn
drinks.
Simmarpal works 16 hours a day
Indians could go beyond imports and Argentina is the third highest in the
world with the latest technology and
trade target by 2012
and has no time for nightclubs. This
modest young man from Amritsar
invest in agribusiness in Argentina. plants.
The Argentines have innovated a I ndia and Argentina have recently
announced relaxation in the their
made to facilitate entry of
Argentine agricultural and agro-
has fiery ambitions, exceptional There is no restriction on foreign new system of storage of grains in visa regimes for business visitors as industrial products into India and
talents and is motivated by his open air instead of expensive the two emerging economies seek to the entry of Indian pharmaceutical
success in the last five years. investment in agriculture. Several concrete and steel silos. They have more than double two-way trade in products into the Latin American
He did his B.Sc (Honours) in developed polythene silobags which the next three years. The two have set nation.
agriculture from Guru Nanak Dev individuals own land here... can store 200-400 tons on the field a trade target of $3 billion by 2012 Ashok Leyland and Argentina
University and master’s degree in itself. The grains are pumped into from $1.3 billion in 2008. Cirigliano also signed a deal for for
rural management from IRMA, population which is increasing by 15 area under cultivation (from 32 the bag by a machine and can be An agreement on easing sanitary production of trucks and buses based
Anand. He has worked in million per year and a population million hectares at present, in stored for up to 15 months. The bag and phyto-sanitary standards, on Indian technology. An MoU
Mozambique, Ivory Coast and Ghana equal to Argentina every 32 months! contrast to India’s 130 million is ripped open at the time of transfer which govern the trade in between the Federation of Indian
before coming to Argentina. He But Argentina, which has almost hectares) and production. to the trucks. The Argentines have agriculture and plant items, will Chambers of Commerce and Industry
speaks Spanish fluently and his wife the same area as that of India, has a In India, we have irrigation canals, exported this new technology and also reached soon said a joint & LA Union Industrial, Argentina, has
and two children have adapted to the small population of 40 million and dams, ground water pumps and bags to a number of countries and statement released after the also been signed to deepen
life in Rio Cuarto, a small city of plenty of land and water. issues of water table going down and want to export it to India as well. meeting. Efforts would also be cooperation in business and trade.
140,000 people. Argentina is an agricultural free electricity for farmers. Cost of this new type of storage is
Simmarpal works for Olam, the powerhouse. It exports 50 percent of Argentines are free from these issues four dollars per ton.
$5.6-billion Non-Resident Indian its agriproduction of 100 million since their agriculture is almost Argentina could be a long-term foreign investment in agriculture. A entrepreneurs will come to invest in
company headquartered in tons. It is the world’s largest exporter entirely rain-fed. There is irrigation source of supply of grains, oil seeds number of foreign companies and Argentina, inspired by the successful
Singapore. It is a leading global of soy oil and sunflower oil, the only for a few specialist farms and and pulses to India. India is already individuals own land here. Cost of example of ‘peanut prince’
supply chain manager of second largest exporter of corn, third some vineyards. importing soya and sunflower oil for the most productive land is $15,000, Simmarpal Singh! They should not
agricultural products and food largest producer of beef, soyabeans Argentina has developed an about $700 million a year. There are which, I am told is cheaper than in forget the turbans...
ingredients. and biodiesel and fourth largest of efficient infrastructure, logistics and occasional imports of wheat. Punjab. The Argentine yield per (The author is India’s Ambassador
He came to Argentina in 2005 to wheat. Argentina is the fifth largest network for transportation and Indians could go beyond imports hectare is about three times higher to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay
buy peanuts for the company. When producer of wine in the world. It has shipping. The food processing and invest in agribusiness in than that of India in soya, peanuts and is an authority on doing business
he found that the farmers preferred significant potential to increase its industries of Argentina are one of Argentina. There is no restriction on and some other crops. I hope Indian in Latin America)

22 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 23
philanthropy

LOOMBA TRUST FOUNDER Raj Loomba addressing an event organised by the Loomba Foundation

I profoundly believe that once you


empower a woman economically,
she is also empowered socially and
How can we empower women? In my
politically. She will look after
herself, her family and children as
case, I took upon myself the task of
CHERIE BLAIR, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and President of The Loomba Trust, with Raj Loomba well as her community. Therefore, helping poor widows in India. There are
release doves at central London’s Trafalgar Square on June 23, 2008, to mark the International Widows Day empowerment is of the essence.
Train a man and he will look after over 35 million widows in India. Each one

Empowering Widows
himself. Train a woman and she
will look after the family. of them has 3-4 children on average. So,
How can we empower women? In
my case, I took upon myself the task
these poor widows need to bring up
ole, as we know, it stands India. India has a population of over
of helping poor widows in India.
There are over 35 million widows in
and look after over 100 million children!

R for ‘duty’

Diaspora can help India in many


different ways. I believe —
and
‘responsibility’. We also
know that the Indian
one billion people and according to
statistics over 70 percent of her
people live in rural areas. Many
rural women are not educated, do
not have jobs, and often depend on
India. Each one of them has 3-4
children on average. So, these poor
widows need to bring up and look
after over 100 million children!
Over 12 years ago, I set up a
a wide swathe of society, when a
woman loses her husband, she loses
her place in society. Among very
regressive sections, she is regarded
as a source of ‘evil’ and her in-laws
depend upon her children who
become the family breadwinners.
Where do the children work? On
the streets where they often get
involved with petty crime. They
philanthropy is one of them. their relatives for their livelihood. charity in Britain, which is named imagine that it was she who had also work in factories where child
We all know as well that there is These are the women who need to after my late mother Shrimati brought bad luck to their son. labour abuse is commonplace.
a need to help needy women in be empowered. Pushpa Wati Loomba. The On the other hand, the parents of This is what the Loomba Trust is
objectives of the Loomba Trust are this unfortunate woman do not addressing; it ensures that these
Raj Loomba, Founder I profoundly believe that once you to educate children of poor widows want her to come back home either, children are kept in school, without
in India and empower their as they have duly carried out their ending up on the streets or in
and Chairman empower a woman economically, she mothers. Our initial aim was to kanyadaan (giving away the bride). factories.
educate at least 100 children in If she were to come back home she Last year, we started the Loomba
Trustee, The Loomba is also empowered socially and every state of India so that we could would bring bad luck for her Trust Entrepreneur Programme for
Trust, reflects on how politically… Train a man and he will look set up projects to inspire other siblings, goes the traditional belief young widows in India. The
people to join hands with us and system. programme was launched by the
the Indian Diaspora
can be an agent of after himself. Train a woman and help these disadvantaged and
marginalised widows.
Therefore, she is left on her own
without any help. She is poor,
British High Commissioner to
India, Sir Richard Stagg.
transformation she will look after the family... Typically in India, cutting across uneducated, has no job and has to Through this initiative, we give

24 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 25
philanthropy

The Loomba
Trust
he Loomba Trust was
T established in the United
Kingdom on June 26, 1997 as a
registered charity and in India in
1999. The inspiration came from
Loomba’s late mother, Shrimati
Pushpa Wati Loomba, who
became a widow at age 37. She,
however, educated her seven
children on her own.
The Trust was officially launched
in London on March 25, 1998 by
British Prime Minister Tony Blair
and his wife Cherie Blair.
In India, then Prime Minister
Atal Bihari Vajpayee inaugurated
the Trust in New Delhi on March
31 1999.
The Trust was launched in
Scotland in 2002, USA in 2005
and South Africa in 2006. Cherie
Blair, the first Patron of the Trust,
became the President of the Trust.

CHERIE BLAIR with children of widows at a seminar in New Delhi


WIDOWS IN KIGALI, RWANDA. The Loomba Trust has been working in
Rwanda to address the needs of widows who survived the 1994 genocide
widows training and help them
financially to set up their own small The child does not need the entire The Indian Diaspora can do it. This
businesses.
In the long run, they become amount of the scholarship. In fact, a is my dream. I appeal to all my
independent, self-reliant and are
able to look after themselves and
major part of it is used by his or her Diaspora brothers and sisters to join
their children on their own. This
makes for a holistic approach
mother for food, clothing and health care forces to help educate children of poor
towards assisting disadvantaged so that she may lead her life with dignity... widows in India and empower their
The Trust observes the
widows. International Widows day on June
We are currently educating over 23 every year, calling for a
3,000 children of poor widows in all widows in India. I actually grew luck to the newlyweds. It really mothers to live a life of dignity sustained global action to raise
28 states of India. They are selected up as a widow’s son. I saw first- hurt me because how could a awareness of the plight of widows
irrespective of gender, religion or hand the sufferings of my mother mother, who gave me birth, who We have nearly 500 retail Britain’s largest children’s charity. in many countries.
class. Once selected, each when she lost her husband. She educated me, and always wished me concession outlets and employ I also sit on the Development Board The Loomba Trust and
beneficiary is given a monthly was young, good looking, and only well, bring bad luck to me! This almost over a 1,000 staff throughout of Oxfam, which is one of the Foundation Entrepreneurship
scholarship of Rs. 500, which is 37 years of age. She had seven incident has haunted me the country. largest charities in the world. programmes, started in 2007 in
guaranteed for five years initially. children to raise and educate by throughout my life. Therefore, I am fortunate that through my There are also many other Kenya, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka,
The child does not need the herself. apart from helping widows charitable work I have been able to organisations where I am involved help widows establish businesses
entire amount of the scholarship. It was not her fault that her financially, I want to ensure that mobilise support of prominent but my heart lies in India. I would and become economically self-
In fact, a major part of it is used husband died but she was ordered widows are treated with respect people of Indian origin in the UK like to see that the poor widows in sustaining.
by his or her mother for food, by my grandmother not to wear and compassion. —Lord Dholakia, Lord Bilimoria India are empowered and their These programmes are in
clothing and health care so that coloured clothes or jewellery ever Of Indian origin, I have lived in and Lord Rana to name a few. I status dignified. collaboration with Youth Business
she may lead her life with dignity. again. She lived for the next 37 London for the past 47 years. have also had the support of people The Indian Diaspora can do it. International, which is HRH The
Add the number of family years, not as a woman, but as a London is home where I started my such as Cherie Blair, wife of This is my dream. I appeal to all Prince of Wales’ charity. The Trust
members — and the reality is that widow! clothing business from a market former British Prime Minister my Diaspora brothers and sisters has recently been working in
nearly 25,000 people actually When I got married, a Hindu stall. It has now grown to be among Tony Blair, and Sir Richard to join forces to help educate Rwanda to address the needs of
benefit by this effort. priest asked my mother to move the most successful import Branson to name but a few. children of poor widows in India widows surviving the 1994
You may wonder why I set up away from the vicinity because businesses in the fashion industry Apart from the Loomba Trust, I and empower their mothers to live genocide.
this charity and why I support being a widow she could bring bad in Britain. also support Barnardos, which is a life of dignity.

26 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 27
Diaspora
Yonder is longing... Yet the journey continues, melding
memory, belonging, roots...

28 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 29
DIASPORA

Memory, W
Winston’s Diary
inston Dookeran was the
former Acting Prime Minis-

Identity,
ter and, Governor of the Central
Bank of T&T at different times in
the last two decades of the 20th
century. Dookeran’s forefathers

YEARNING
were among 148,000 East Indi-
ans who were sourced by the
then British Colonial Government
between 1845 and 1917 from
principally Uttar Pradesh and
Bihar, to help stabilise a failing
agricultural economy. He was
also author of several books and
publications/presenter on eco-
The Indian Diaspora in T&T can forge nomics and economic strategy
a new Caribbean identity, former and thinking in the Caribbean
and beyond. In the 1960s, Dook-
Acting Prime Minister Winston eran graduated in Economics and
Statistics with Honours from the
Dookeran tells Paras Ramoutar University of Manitoba, Canada,
and he also studied for his Mas-
ter’s in Economics at the London
he East Indian Diaspora in Diaspora in T&T has come a long School of Economics and Political

T Trinidad and Tobago (T&T)


must not simply be a
pressure group, but must
now play its part in shaping the
national citizenry with all sectors of
way. “It has been a courageous
journey in the very early days as
there were numerous obstacles to
their residency and settlement. It
was a period of struggle to be
Science. On his decision to form
the Congress of the People in
2006, and within one year of its
existence, it garnered 148,000
votes or 24 percent of the voters
the population — Africans, acknowledged and be finally in the General Elections of 2007.
European, Middle East and Chinese. accepted. But more than that, they
This is a multi-cultural society with had to establish roots of their own
The Dharmveer Sewdass Sadhu
a unique, rich and powerful heritage and they did so triumphantly, Memorial statue installed
which must be supported.” features which still remain to commemorate the 150th compulsion to enter the fray as identity,” Dookeran said. Dookeran is married to Shirley
These were the words of Winston outstanding in their profiles.” anniversary of Indian arrival well,” he said. “I think the country, by and and they have one son, Navin, and
Dookeran who was the former “I think this initiative was in Trinidad. The first signs of this were large, has now assimilated the two grandchildren. He continues:
Acting Prime Minister and largely of their sense of evident when both in the capital city acceptance of the Indian presence as “And it is an assimilation which
Governor of the Central Bank of determination tempered with the its orientation. This eventually of Port-of-Spain and in the City of a permanent feature of the adds to the society and not an
T&T at different times in the last rich human values they laid down became Afro-Saxon in its San Fernando, East Indians served Caribbean society. There is now a assimilation which has been
two decades of the 20th century. and which ultimately permeated the orientation. There were several as mayors. “But more recently, we third phase, which is shaping the absorbed into society.”
With this kind of alignment with society. This sense propelled them norms which they had to challenge made tremendous strides in the society, but the most interesting Delving deeper into the notion of
different ethnic groups in the to retain their cultural strengths or overcome. For instance, Hindu political landscape when Basdeo aspect of this whole phenomenon is local politics, Dookeran seemed
national community, Dookeran and strong religious beliefs in marriages were never recognised Panday, a trade unionist and lawyer that they have maintained their eager to belt out his thoughts on the
envisages that the Diaspora has, “a myriad religious texts and literature until the 1950s, almost 100 years who had laboured in the political value system, they have maintained question of “state discrimination”
challenge to become a partner...an as basic support for their after their arrival.” landscape for three decades, was a cultural expression and they have against East Indians. “I think the
equal partner forging a new engagement in a new society. This Dookeran, who was recently elected Prime Minister in 1995 till maintained an adherence to quest for nationhood in its early
paradigm and moving towards a was motivating to them and it gave awarded a United Nations 2001. That to me was a hallmark religious notions and concepts,” the manifestation failed. That quest for
Caribbean identity, without losing them the encouragement to move in, Fellowship to a university in time in T&T, and we are no longer former Minister of Planning and nationhood was to bring about a
its sense of nostalgia in terms of its as they sought to become equal Finland to study ‘The Role of Small fighting for acceptability or even Mobilisation said. unity among the people and a new
socio-cultural roots.” partners in the society.” States in the World Economy’, noted
Dookeran’s forefathers were Dookeran, a Fellow of Harvard that when the East Indian Diaspora
among 148,000 East Indians who University, noted that when the embarked on a journey for an
were sourced by the then British East Indians came here in the initial identity around the Caribbean Sea,
Colonial Government between 1845
and 1917, principally from Uttar
decades, they met with a society
that was culturally different from
many began to take on the
responsibility “to shape the society
It was a courageous journey in the very early days. It
Pradesh and Bihar after the the one they were accustomed to in they are now part of and now call was a period of struggle to be acknowledged and be
Europeans and Chinese failed to India and Pakistan. “Therefore, home.”
help stabilise a failing agricultural there was foreign input to the local “And in the search for identity, finally accepted
economy. environment which was essentially politics became an important —Winston Dookeran
Dookeran said the East Indian one that was more Anglo-Saxon in vehicle and others felt the

30 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 31
DIASPORA

to its own success”. have taken place outside Honours from that prestigious
“There are other obstacles in democratic ideals and that would Canadian institute, and he also
We take inspiration from a country like India which has terms of institutions of the state. For have been a tragedy for us today in studied for his Master’s in
instance, never before were we able the entire country.” Economics at the London School of
been able to maintain democracy. Its leaders are an to celebrate Diwali in the For his dynamic role in returning Economics and Political Science.
inspiration to the world and the Indian Diaspora in T&T Parliament. That was a symbolic
gesture and it represented a change
T&T into the folds of democracy, his
Alma Mater, the University of
“I was always careful to maintain
that my job was to ensure the
—Winston Dookeran and an acceptance of the cultures, Manitoba, Canada, bestowed on him persistent rule of law and adherence
values and religions. There must the Honorary Doctorate. In the to the democratic system. That was
always be a search for a new 1960s, Dookeran  graduated in under threat at the time. My own
dimension in the politics of T&T. Economics and Statistics with involvement at the time, being not
environment of equality of presenter on economics and T&T has undertaken.” There must be a genuine equality of only a Member of Parliament when
opportunities. What actually economic strategy and thinking in “We must, however, make a opportunities for the people of the it did occur in the Parliament, but
happened was that those who the Caribbean and beyond, pointed political intervention of a different land and it must be an ongoing subsequently Acting Prime Minister
assumed power in the aftermath of out that today, they are more likely order to be able to feel a sense of process,” Dookeran said. In 1990, Dookeran for over three months, was to bring
the political Independence on
August 31 1962, really followed the
to be engaged in the state sector, but
obviously, there are political
comfort that the future really is one
in which the East Indian Diaspora
In 1990, Dookeran created history
because never before in the Western
created history as the situation under control and
exercise extreme intelligence and
order that existed prior to
Independence; that is why the quest
obstacles to overcome.
With all the humility at his
is a permanent feature of the
Caribbean society. After all, the
Hemisphere, an East Indian sitting
in government had to deal with an
never before in the calm to maintain the democratic
spirit,” he said.
for nationhood failed,” he said. command, Dookeran remains Caribbean society has over 25 insurrection and had the capacity Western Dookeran continued: “The Times
“The result is that the East confident that they must now be percent of its population stock of and wisdom to halt the six-day crisis of London had stated that the
Indian community was not able to seen as builders of the new Indian heritage, and that is a very which was ignited by a group of Hemisphere, an manner in which we handled the
have equal participation in society, nationhood process. “The obstacles significant portion of the society. terrorists. His response: “It was a whole crisis was an exercise in
but found ways outside of that. are such that they cannot operate as Therefore, there is a rich heritage sense of calm. The situation did East Indian sitting humility for such a small nation.
Instead of dealing with the state pressure groups in society, nor can and there is a common future that reflect a political crisis. Our goals The legal system took its course
sector, they went into such fields they operate where they are seen as we must work towards.” were to observe the fundamental
in government had thereafter, but at that time, we were
like education, commerce, and
business, and in that way, found
competitors, but they must now be
seen as nation-builders and I think
Dookeran, who played a catalyst
role in removing the then People’s
principles of democracy and it was
that sense of calm that brought us
to deal with an able to restore that sense of calm.”
As Governor of the Central Bank
their own equality. But in respect of
the state sector, it remained an
that is where we are now. It is an
evolutionary process. Much of the
National Movement government in
1986 after 30 years of uninterrupted
to a quick solution in what could
have been a dangerous turn of
insurrection and of T&T, Dookeran had always
viewed his responsibilities in a
elusive dream,” he added. talk about discrimination and so rule, views this change as, “a new events in this country. We could halt a crisis ignited historical context. “In the 1980s
Dookeran, author of several forth have been because of the beginning in the aftermath of have found ourselves in a situation when the economy was on the verge
books and publications and evolutionary concept of change that Independence, but it soon fell victim where changes in the regime could by terrorists of collapse, I was Minister of
Planning and Mobilisation. I took
on myself the responsibility to try
and take steps to stabilise the
economy.”
“In 1990, there was a crisis and
we had to try and restore
democracy. During my stint in the
Central Bank, we tried to overcome
some of the problems related to
negative growth in the country, and
we have now entered a period of
economic development,” he said.
After he decided to form the
Congress of the People in 2006,
within one year, it garnered 148,000
votes or 24 percent of the voters in
the General Elections of 2007, but no
parliamentary seats.
“Since the election, we have
developed a platform that will now
be open to all other political
movements in T&T to join with the
core guiding principles of
governance. That is the political
change we are trying to bring, and
I think we are well-positioned to do
Dookeran greets so,” Dookeran noted.
Prime Minister
Dr. Manmohan Singh “The electorate needs a common
Dookeran interacts with people at a during the recent sense approach, as there is no need
rally in Trinidad and Tobago. CHOGM 2009 in T&T for a sophisticated model to agree on
a political programme. We now live

32 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 33
DIASPORA

(Left) The HCU Financial and Hindu Credit Union


building in modern Trinidad.
(Above) East Indian women harvesting sugarcane.
Nearly 147,000 Indians arrived between 1845 and
1917 to work on the sugar plantations in Trinidad
and Tobago. The Indo-Trinidadians are mostly the
descendants from indentured labourers from India.
Today, they form the largest ethnic group in
the country.

in a society that has become quite movement. It is a new political tool, Dookeran noted that the globalised
Winston Dookeran offers prayers to Goddess Lakhsmi, as the Congress of the People celebrates Divali in
lawless largely because the aimed at igniting a new coalition of world has brought opportunities, as collaboration with the Felicity Divali Committee at the Shree Shankar Mandir, Felicity, on October 11, 2009.
leadership of the nation has violated interests that will incorporate their well as attendant dangers which
some of the basic principles of own political aspirations into this must be avoided. “I think that the
diversity and unity. We need a sense new momentum. It must be an savings of the East Indian
of discipline, integrity, and initiative that will be able to deliver community have helped the young development, said: “We take fairness. He has done us proud,” the responsibility to bring about the
transparency. That is what effective a new process of governance. That people build capacity for the future. inspiration from a country like Dookeran said. change.” Commenting on the future
leadership is all about, and that is is not far-fetched or an illusion. It is They have to be fully prepared for India which has been able to A recent poll survey among of East Indians in the Caribbean,
what I am trying to espouse. Our within our grasp. The time is now.” more competition and in trying to maintain democracy in spite of all diplomatic circles, political Dookeran said: “I would like to see
political parties have all gone Recalling his boyhood days in his succeed, they must resort to their the turbulence in that society over thinkers, civic leaders and the East Indian Diaspora feel a
astray. The governing party, in my hometown Rio Claro, he said that social, ethical and spiritual values time and I believe it is a grassroots organisations showed sense of nationhood and a sense of
view, is no longer the tall party it nothing comes without hard work. because that’s where their salvation commitment to a value system that that Dookeran is a strong contender belonging. I would like to see the
used to be in the 1960s and the He talked about his upbringing as a lies… that will sustain them, but it the leaders of India held on. They for the post of Prime Minister of Diaspora feel a sense of sharing
Opposition party is now in a state of devout Hindu, and fondly recalled is a serious challenge for them.” are an inspiration to the entire T&T. “If that happens, I will see it with their Caribbean brothers and
disarray,” he said. his Late mother whose The former University of the world and especially to the Indian as an honour and a responsibility to sisters. We have a large presence in
“The leadership of the Diaspora commitment, dedication and love, West Indies lecturer, and adviser to Diaspora in T&T.” discharge my duty on behalf of the Guyana, Suriname and T&T. It is a
must take the pivotal role he said, continues to inspire him. several Caribbean countries on Dookeran was one of the several people of T&T. It is less glamorous large political presence and we must
in  fostering this new political On the role of East Indian youths, planning and economic prominent members of the than it is a responsibility, because use that strength to the benefit of all
Indian Diaspora who was invited to we are in a difficult situation,” Caribbean people.”
meet Prime Minister Dr. Dookeran said responding to the
Manmohan Singh during the survey.
recently held Commonwealth Heads “I have never shied from
I would like to see the East Indian Diaspora feel a sense of of Government Meeting in Trinidad
and Tobago. “We owe Dr. Singh a
assuming responsibilities. If
there is one thing I have
Paras Ramoutar is an
international journalist who
nationhood. I would like to see the Diaspora feel a sense sense of gratitude for preserving the always done, it is to accept has written and broadcasted
integrity of the State of India and in responsibility. I think that is extensively for newspapers,
of sharing with their Caribbean brothers and sisters so doing, the pride of the Diaspora what distinguishes me from radio and television in T&T, his
worldwide. Dr. Singh’s presence many of my own colleagues who home country, the Caribbean and the
—Winston Dookeran exudes calmness, and a sense of talk about change but, do not take world, including India.

34 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 35
diaspora

ON TOP
And to bring the promised change
at home, Obama turned to a long list
In the corporate world, Vikram
Pandit worked on an annual salary
On the night of the
of Indians to give “Americans a gov-
ernment that is effective, efficient
of $1 to bring the ailing Citigroup
around and by the end of the year not
much-awaited State
and transparent”. only turned it profitable but was Dinner to celebrate a
Aneesh Chopra became Obama’s even ready to pay back Uncle Sam
chief technology officer and joined $20 billion in bailout funds. commitment to turn
chief performance officer Vivek Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi was
Kundra Chopra to help break Wash- listed fourth among “15 women the India-US

OF THE WORLD relationship into a


ington’s “bad habits” of wasteful (who) show what it takes to lead”
spending and move recession-hit some of America’s biggest companies
America from recovery to prosperity.
Economist Sonal Shah, a key mem-
on the Fortune 500 list.
Four Indians found themselves
“defining partnership
ber of his transition team, took among America’s super-rich with a of the 21st century”,
charge of a new office of social inno- fortune of $50 billion. Rubbing shoul-
vation. ders with Microsoft Corp co-founder more than a third of
After searching far and wide for Bill Gates at the top were Bharat
From Aneesh Chopra to Kal months, Obama zeroed in on Rajiv Desai (212), Kavitark Ram Shriram the invitees were
Penn, Sonal Shah to Rajiv Shah to head the USAID to spur (272), Romesh Wadhwani (277) and
Indian Americans
development around the world with Vinod Khosla (347).
Shah... 2009 marked the a $20 billion budget. In a new trend, Indian investments picked by Obama as the U.S. attor-
stupendous rise of Indian Kal Penn, star of Mira Nair’s ‘The into America exceeded U.S. foreign ney for Southern District of
Namesake’, went to the White House direct investment into India in New York. He would also be the lead
Americans in the US while as Kalpen Modi to serve as Obama’s recent years and were helping turn prosecutor of alleged 9/11 master-
President Barack Obama liaison with Asian communities. around local economies and creating mind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
And the list of Indian Americans in jobs in the U.S. The success of over 2.5 million Indi-
set out to build bridges key positions keeps growing. Kavya Shivashankar made history an Americans in general was also
around the world Across the political divide, as she gave Indian origin kids a third reflected in them topping U.S.
Louisiana Governor Piyush “Bobby” back-to-back victory in the presti- Census charts again as the best-edu-
Jindal emerged as the new face of gious Scripps National Spelling Bee cated, highest-paid and top-placed
f Indian Americans had helped the vanquished Republican Party as championship. community among America’s 38.1

I transform India-US ties into a


“strategic relationship” in the
Bush era, 2009 was a year
of consolidation as U.S. Presi-
dent Barack Obama set
he delivered its official response to
Obama’s speech to Congress.
Firozpur-born Indian-American
lawyer Preet Bharara was hand-
million foreign-born.
— Arun Kumar/Washington

out to build bridges


around the world.
Wary at first about
the new President’s
perceived leanings
towards Pakistan, Indi-
an Americans soon
found him warming up to
their native country with an
invitation to Prime Minister Dr.
Manmohan Singh for the first state
visit of his administration — con-
sidered a plum presidential nod of
recognition for an “indispensable”
India.
On the night of the much-awaited
State Dinner to celebrate a commit-
ment to turn their relationship into
a “defining partnership of the 21st
US President Barack Obama (then
century”, more than a third of the THE WINNERS: (From top, L-R) 1. Vivek Kundra Chopra; 2. Aneesh President-elect) shakes hand with
invitees were Indian Americans, Chopra; 3.Romesh Wadhwani; 4. Vinod Khosla; 5. Vikram Pandit; Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal
reflecting their growing presence on 6. Bharat Desai; 7. Rajiv Shah; 8. Kalpen Modi; 9. Kavitark Ram as he meets the state governors from
the nation’s political, economic and Shriram; 10. Sonal Shah; 11.Preet Bharara; and 12. Kavya Shivashankar both the political parties at
Congress Hall in Philadelphia
social scene.

36 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 37
diaspora

CITIUS, Francisco D’Souza who heads Cog-

ALTIUS
nizant Technology Solutions, which
outsources IT services for its West-
ern world clients.
D’Souza, 40, whose grandparents

FORTIUS
hailed from Goa in India, joined the
company in 1994 when it was found-
ed and, within three years, had
gone up the ranks to become direc-
tor of North American operations.
Next came Shantanu Narayen, 46,
With Indira at the helm at Adobe Systems. The
diversified software company’s flag-
Nooyi ruling the ship Internet video tool is Flash.
Forbes’ ‘Eight “At least one top boss of Indian
Indian-Flavoured descent is plotting a growth strate-
gy,” said Forbes of Quest Diagnos-
CEOs’ list, Indians tics’ head Surya Mohapatra, fifth scientific
leave a mark in on the list. research busi-
Also featured were Dinesh Paliw- ness, was
corporate ranks in al of Harman International, Jai P. appointed
America and are head Nagarkatti of Sigma-Aldrich and COO, in 2004.
Abhijit Talwalkar of LSI. Talwalkar
and shoulders above Indra Nooyi, Paliwal, a native of the city of the was appointed
others... says the PepsiCo’s CEO Taj Mahal, joined Harman, a sound- chief executive of
systems company in Stamford, Con- LSI of Milpitas,
premier business necticut, as chief executive in 2007. California, in May 2005.
magazine Prior to that, he spent 22 years at Earlier, he was at Intel’s digital
CHART-BUSTERS: (From top,
ABB Group and set up its opera- enterprise group. He joined Intel in L-R) 1. Francisco D’Souza; 2. Neel
tions in China and north Asia. 1993 after stints at Sequent Com- Kashkari; 3. Dinesh Paliwal; 4.
Nagarkatti joined Sigma-Aldrich puter Systems (now part of IBM), Shantanu Narayen; 5. Jai P.
epsiCo chief executive Indra “Despite these personal success aging director.” in 1976 as a development chemist, Bipolar Integrated Technology Inc. Nagarkatti; 6. Abhijit Talwalkar;

P
and 7. Surya Mohapatra
Nooyi inevitably topped the stories, the number of immigrants Of the featured eight, Nooyi, 53, and after heading the company’s and Lattice Semiconductor Inc.
list of what Forbes called who are leading corporate America, said Herman, is part of a growing
“Eight Indian-Flavoured Indian or otherwise, is still a tiny trend where U.S. companies are
CEOs” who lead U.S. corporations
with revenues of at least $2 billion,
as the premier business magazine
fraction,” according to Forbes.
But, said Herman, “look at where
the data was 10 years ago and
being created, or led, by foreign-
born individuals who bring in
something special.
Not to be missed
chronicled the rise of Indians in cor- maybe it was zero or one [Indian Vikram Pandit, the embattled Arun Majumdar: The first direc- developing the Google advisor for Barack Obama in U.S.
porate ranks in America. then].” CEO of Citigroup, is the other tor of the U.S. Depart- News, which he created Senate campaign, 2004.
“The chief executive of PepsiCo Future CEO candidates might prominent native Indian in the cor- ment of Energy’s after September 11, 2001
would be prominent no matter want to look for a tough assignment ner office. Advanced Research attacks in the U.S. Fr. Alexander Kurien: Director of
what. The fact that the current one in order to break through, he said. “Prior to joining the ailing bank, Projects Agency-Ener- strategic planning in
— Indra Nooyi — is an Indian “Americans are having a tough he was president of Morgan Stan- gy, Majumdar is a sci- Arun Sarin: Former the U.S. Department of
immigrant makes her all the more time dealing with global diversity, ley’s investment banking, fixed entist and an engineer. CEO of Vodafone Group State. Has been helping
noteworthy,” it said. Herman added, “but just look at income and capital markets busi- Plc, the UK-based global to set up U.S. missions
“It’s not a surprise that we’re who was running the Tarp finan- nesses and was the chairman of a Ajay Bhatt: Co-inventor of USB, mobile phone company. across the world since
seeing Indians rise in corporate cial-rescue fund — Neel Kashkari— hedge fund, Old Lane Partners,” Bhatt is the Chief He resigned in 2008 and he was inducted into
ranks,” Forbes quotes Richard Her- an Indian-American who is now Forbes noted. Client Platform Archi- was appointed to the the department in 1999.
man, co-author of a book on joining bond giant Pimco as a man- Third on the list was Kenya-born tect at Intel. He has Board of Directors of
migrants to the U.S. titled ‘Immi- helped develop tech- Cisco Systems, in 2009. Salil Shetty: New Secretary-
grant, Inc,’ as saying in an article
published recently.
The chief executive of PepsiCo would nologies like AGP, PCI
Express, Platform Raja Krishnamoorthi:
General of Amnesty International,
Shetty is a former CEO
“Of all the immigrant groups com-
ing in today, Indians are head-and-
be prominent no matter what. The fact Power management architecture
and chipset enhancements.
A Democratic candidate
for Illinois Comptroller
of ActionAid. Current-
ly, he is also director
shoulders above others, and this is that the current one — Indra Nooyi — is and former Illinois of the US Millennium
partly because of their English lan- Krishna Bharat: Principal Deputy Treasurer for Campaign and set to
guage skills and also the advanced an Indian immigrant makes her all the researcher at Google Inc, Mountain Policy and Programs. He take up his new post in
education that many of them are View, California. He is famous for was a policy director and senior June 2010.
bringing to the U.S.” more noteworthy — Forbes

38 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 39
diaspora

Clockwise (from left): Indian-origin


students in Australia; UK TV star Jade
Goody with actor Shilpa Shetty in reality
TV show Big Boss; Filmmaker Danny Boyle
with Slumdog Millionaire kids Azharuddin
and Rubina; and Shriti Vadera with
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown

Scars to czars
ments hit the headlines around the
Venkataraman world.
Ramakrishnan In the arena of public life, a scan-
dal over expense claims filed by
was named for the British parliamentarians hit Indian-
born steel magnate Lord Swraj Paul,
Nobel Prize in who voluntarily stepped down as
deputy speaker of the House of Lords
From racial attacks rom suffering a surge in assure his Indian counterpart chemistry along for the duration of an inquiry

on Indian students in
Australia to ‘Venky’
sharing the Nobel
F racist violence to being
conferred the honour of a
science Nobel, the Indian
diaspora in 2009 lived out the highs
and lows that come with being linked
Dr. Manmohan Singh that Indian
students are welcome in his country.
By contrast, 2009 was also the year
when an Indian origin scientist
Venkataraman Ramakrishnan,
with an American
and an Israeli
Violent racism swept parts of
launched at his request.
Shriti Vadera, said to be Prime
Minister Gordon Brown’s closest
confidante in the British cabinet,
quit as minister for the cabinet
Prize in chemistry, to a country that is rising on the working away quietly in Cambridge Britain too. Clashes broke out as far- office, business, innovation and
world stage. University on the structure and func- right groups such as the English skills, to take up a position as advis-
2009 was witness to Many of the thousands of Indians tion of the ribosome, was named for
Venkataraman
Ramakrishnan Defence League and Stop Islamisa- er to the rotating presidency of the
many a high and low who moved to Australia for higher the Nobel Prize in chemistry along tion of Europe took out marches in G20 group of global economic
studies — a product of India’s quest with an American and an Israeli. mostly Indians — the government towns and cities with large South powerhouses.
of being an NRI, says to become a 21st century knowledge Here are some of the other high- introduced an Australian-style sys- Asian populations. In arts, celebrated British film
Dipankar centre — became the bewildered lights charting the ups and downs in tem where applicants are awarded The most prominent rise was that director Danny Boyle’s India-themed
victims of sudden unprovoked racist the life of the Indian diaspora in 2009: points for skills, education, existing of the British National Party (BNP), Slumdog Millionaire took eight
De Sarkar violence. Prodded by opposition parties in salary, qualifications and knowl- which reserves membership for Oscars, including best director.
As the number of Indian students the run-up to elections due by June edge of English. whites only and campaigns to The year saw the death of Jade
in Australia swelled from around 2010, the Labour government in At the same time, it announced remove non-whites from Britain. Goody, the British reality television
30,000 in 2004 to nearly 100,000 in Britain continued to fret and fume stringent penalties for firms found to During a controversial appear- star whose insulting remarks
2009, scores of them were subjected over migration. be hiring illegal migrants, in the ance on a BBC television panel against actor Shilpa Shetty in 2007
to racist attacks in the summer, Scrapping visas granted under a process muddying the public’s show, BNP leader Nick Griffin was outraged the Indian diaspora and
prompting Australian Prime Minis- Highly Skilled Migrants Programme perception of illegal and legal taken on by an Indian-origin mem- caused her expulsion from the show.
ter Kevin Rudd to express regret and (HSMP) — a system that benefited migrants, critics said. ber of the audience, whose com- She died of cancer at age 27.

40 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 41
economy

Rampart
“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is
loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and
everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned...” A year
ago, those Yeatsian lines came to haunt India. A year later,
the country has emerged stronger against both terror and
the financial crisis...

42 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 43
economy

cannot be properly understood with-


out taking a look at the processes
that were responsible for pulling
down India from her pre-eminent
global economic position to the sit-
uation today. According to econom-
ic historians such as Paul Bairoch,
K.N. Chaudhuri or Andre Gunter
Frank, among others, even till the
end of the 18th century, the Indian
sub-continent (and China) had the
most advanced and varied
economies in the world and living
standards were on a par world-wide.
India in the pre-colonial period
had a stable economy and enjoyed a
trade surplus with the rest of the
world. Self-sufficient agriculture,
flourishing trade and rich handi-
craft industries — these were some
of the features of the Indian econo-
my. While there existed sharp
income inequalities in urban areas,

Back to the
where the elite lived, the urban pop-
ulation was only a very small per-
centage of the entire population.
India was largely rural and agricul-
ture was the mainstay of the rural
population who lived in small vil-

FUTURE
lage communities. With villages
ON THE RIGHT TRACK: Just as
the Metro has put commuters on being more or less self-sufficient and
the fast track in the national most farmers being subsistence
capital, rapid development of farmers, sharp income inequalities
infrastructure has put the Indian and abject poverty and destitution
economy on the growth turnpike
was largely absent.
Agricultural operations were car-
ried out by subsistence farmers,
organised in small village commu-
Right up to 1700 A.D. igh levels of economic largest economy in the first millen- nities. Villages were more or less

India was one of the


world’s largest
economies and then
H growth during the past
two decades, together with
her emergence as a leader
in the information technology sec-
tor, have today made the world take
nium, producing a third of global
GDP (See Chart). By 1500, its share
had declined to 25 percent, as China
overtook it and Western Europe’s
share began to expand rapidly.
India: Percentage Share of Global
GDP, Year 0‑1998
self-sufficient economic units and
their business contacts with the out-
side world were limited to payment
of land revenue (generally in kind)
and the purchase of a few necessary
notice and describe India as a India’s share continued to fall after things from nearby towns. The
stagnated for nearly knowledge economy and an emerg- 1700 due to the collapse of the farmer raised only those crops
ing economic giant. Ironically, what Moghul Empire, the costs of adjust- which he needed for his own use
200 years during the even many Indians don’t know is ing to British governance, and the and shared the same with the vil-
colonial era. The that for many centuries together rapid increase in the share of West- lage artisan who supplied him with
India was the world’s largest econo- ern Europe, followed by the spec- simple manufacture that he needed
country is once my. Based on quantitative estimates tacular rise of the United States.” for his domestic consumption.
worked out by noted economic his- India has made spectacular eco- Means of communication were of a
again emerging as torian Angus Maddison, a 2005 nomic progress over the last six primitive type. Therefore, trade in
an economic giant, World Bank report “India and the decades since gaining independence agricultural produce, was somewhat
Knowledge Economy” said: “The in 1947. Even then, problems such as limited. The farmer usually raised
says Arjun Sen notion of a knowledge economy is poverty, sharp income inequalities enough produce to feed himself and
not new or foreign to India. India’s in both urban and rural areas, child the non-agricultural members of the
past achievements in science, phi- malnutrition, illiteracy, low per village community. If his crop yield-
losophy, mathematics, and astrono- capita incomes, a relatively poor ed more than the consumption
my reinforce the notion that the rank among the global comity of needs, due to favourable climatic
country has for millennia been a nations in terms of the human conditions, he stored that surplus
leading ‘knowledge society.’ In eco- development index, etc. continue to Source: World Bank (2005) for use in the lean years. Storage of
nomic terms, India was the world’s plague the country. These problems food grains was a common practice

44 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 45
economy

In the pre-colonial
period, India had a
stable economy
and enjoyed a trade
surplus with the
rest of the world.
Self-sufficient
agriculture,
flourishing trade
and rich handicraft
industries were
some of the
features of the
ans who tend to argue that although cent — with one-third living more Indian economy
among the pre-colonial agri- Dhaka and Murshidabad in the British colonialists may have than 5 to a room. The same was true
culturists and constituted, COLONIAL CALAMITY: (Left) Map showing Bengal; Patna in Bihar; Surat looted and plundered India as any of Karachi and Ahmedabad. After
under these conditions, the the British empire in 1886. (Right) Painting and Ahmedabad in Gujarat; conquering colonial power is likely the Second World War, 13 percent of
of Robert Clive in the Battle of Plassey,
only remedy against famines. from where the British began their conquest Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh; to do, they gave Indians education, Bombay's population slept on the
In spite of the fact that the of India by force of arms Burhanpur in Maharashtra; built modern cities, built irrigation streets. As for sanitation, 10-15 ten-
Indian villages were largely Jaunpur, Varanasi, Lucknow canals, protected our monuments ements typically shared one water
self-sufficient units and the and Agra in Uttar Pradesh; etc. The record, however, speaks tap!
means of communication were an excess of exports over imports, Multan and Lahore in the Punjab; otherwise. The literacy rate in 1911 Yet, in 1757 (the year of the
primitive, India enjoyed extensive i.e., India exported more than it Masulipatnam, Aurangabad and was a dismal 6 percent, in 1931, it Plassey defeat), Clive of the East
trade both within the country and needed to import. Since the econo- Visakhapatnam in Andhra; Banga- was 8 percent and by 1947 it had India Company had observed of
with other countries of Asia and my was on the whole self-sufficient lore in Mysore and Coimbatore and crawled to a mere 11 percent. In con- Murshidabad in Bengal: “This city
Europe. The items imported into in handicrafts and agricultural Madurai in Madras were flourish- trast, the literacy rate today is over is as extensive, populous and rich as
India were pearls, wool, dates, dried products, India did not need foreign ing centres of textile industry. 78 percent. the city of London...” (so quoted in
fruits and rosewater from the Per- imports on a large scale and con- Kashmir specialised in woollen It is undoubtedly true that the the Indian Industrial Commission
sian gulf; coffee, gold, drugs and tinued to enjoy a healthy trade. Sec- manufactures. Maharashtra, British built modern cities with Report of 1916-18). Dhaka was even
honey from Arabia; tea, sugar and ondly, India's foreign trade suited Andhra and Bengal were prominent modern conveniences for their more famous as a manufacturing
silk from China; gold, musk and its requirements very well. In other centres of ship building industry. administrative officers. But these town, its muslin, a source of many
woollen cloth; metals like copper, words, the commodity pattern, so India's ships were bought by many were exclusive zones not intended legends and it’s weavers had an
iron and lead, and paper from important to any country's foreign European companies for their use. for the “natives” to enjoy. Consider international reputation that was
Europe. trade, was in India’s favour. India Till the end of the 18th century, that in 1911, 69 percent of Bombay's unmatched in the medieval world.
The main items exported from exported the items it specialised in; India was undoubtedly one of the (now Mumbai) population lived in But in 1840, it was reported by Sir
India were cotton textiles. Besides and imported the ones it needed. main centres of world trade and one-room tenements (as against Charles Trevelyan to a parliamen-
cotton textiles which were famous India was a land of extensive man- industry. This status of India was 6 percent in London in the same tary enquiry that Dhaka’s popula-
the world over, India also exported ufactures. Indian artisans were completely destroyed under colonial year). The 1931 census revealed that tion had fallen from 1,50,000 to
raw silk, indigo, opium, rice, wheat, famous for their skills the world times. the figure had increased to 74 per- 20,000.
sugar, pepper and other spices, pre- over. In fact, the reason for India’s Before we go into the adverse
cious stones and drugs. favourable foreign trade was its impact of British rule on the Indian
The major features of Indian trade excellence in indigenous produc- economy, it may be appropriate to COMPANY CORPS: These ships
in pre-colonial times were (i) a tion. India indulged in large scale shed some light on some popular of the East India Company,
favourable balance of trade and (ii) manufacture of cotton and silk fab- myths about the benefits that colo- supposedly a merchant company
a foreign trade most suitable to the rics, sugar, jute, dyestuffs, mineral nial rulers are supposed to have engaged in trade, were armed to
the teeth. They helped extend the
level of manufacturing in India. A and metallic products like arms, bestowed on Indians. There are reach of British power
favourable balance of trade meant metalware and oil. Towns like many well-meaning patriotic Indi-

46 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 47
economy

loam-bearing Ganges water, have ing famine years.


gradually become sterile and unpro- European visitors to India in the
ductive, others improperly drained, 17th century, just years before the
show an advanced degree of water- British began conquering India,
logging, with the inevitable accom- spoke of a land of plenty rather than
paniment of malaria. Nor has any of poverty. In his “Travels in India”,
attempt been made to construct the French traveler Jean-Baptiste
proper embankments for the Gauges Tavernier (1605-1689) wrote “even in
in its low course, to prevent the the smallest villages rice, flour, but-
enormous erosion by which villages ter, milk, beans and other vegeta-
and groves and cultivated fields are bles, sugar and sweetmeats can be
swallowed up each year.” As a lega- procured in abundance”.
cy of British rule, Bengal continues Niccolao Manouchi, the Venetian
to suffer even today from floods and who became chief physician to
constant erosion of the banks of the Aurangzeb (also in the 17th centu-
Ganges. ry), wrote: “Bengal is of all the king-
Finally, the myths about poverty. doms of the Moghul, best known in
Many Indians still believe India's France..... We may venture to say it
problems of poverty pre-date colo- is not inferior in anything to Egypt
nial rule, and in any case, were and that it even exceeds that king-
exacerbated by rapid population dom in its products of silks, cottons,
growth. The available evidence, sugar, and indigo. All things are in
however, tells another story. In the great plenty here, fruits, pulse,
first half of the 19th century, there grain, muslins, cloths of gold
were seven famines leading to a mil- and silk”.
lion and a half deaths. In the second The French traveller, Francois
half, there were 24 famines (18 Bernier also described 17th century
between 1876 and 1900) causing over Bengal in a similiar vein: “The
EMERGING EXPORTER: For many
20 million deaths (as per official knowledge I have acquired of Ben-
years after Independence, the Indian records). W. Digby noted in “Pros- gal in two visits inclines me to
economy remained inward looking. After perous British India” in 1901 that believe that it is richer than Egypt.
1991, India has emerged as a major “stated roughly, famines and scarci- It exports in abundance cottons and
exporter of both manufactured goods as ties have been four times as numer- silks, rice, sugar and butter. It pro-
well as services, especially IT services
ous, during the last thirty years of duces amply for its own consump-
the 19th century as they were one tion of wheat, vegetables, grains,
hundred years ago, and four times fowls, ducks and geese. It has
as widespread.” immense herds of pigs and flocks of
Montgomery Martin, an early his- the country have been suffered to these canals distributed the flood In Late Victorian Holocausts, 2000, sheep and goats. Fish of every kind
torian of the British Empire, fall into dilapidation; and now the waters of the Ganges and provided Mike Davis points out that there it has in profusion. From Rajmahal
There were 31 observed that Surat and Murshid-
abad had suffered a similiar fate.
want of the means of irrigation
causes famines.” Montgomery Mar-
for proper drainage of the land,
undoubtedly accounting for that
were 31 serious famines in 120 years
of British rule compared to 17 in the
to the sea is an endless number of
canals, cut in bygone ages from the
famines in 120 This phenomenon was to be repli- tin, in his standard work “The Indi- prosperity of Bengal which lured 2000 years before British rule. The Ganges by immense labour for nav-
cated all over India — particularly an Empire”, in 1858, noted that the the rapacious East India merchants major reasons were export of food igation and irrigation.” The pover-
years of British rule in Awadh (modern U.P) and other old East India Company “omitted there in the early days of the eigh- grains and converting land that was ty of British India stood in stark
areas that had offered the most hero- not only to initiate improvements, teenth century. once used for producing grains into contrast to these eyewitness reports.
compared to only 17 ic resistance to the British during but even to keep in repair the old He wrote “Not only was nothing plantations for cultivating cash Another aspect of colonial rule
in the 2000 years the revolt of 1857. The percentage of
population dependant on agricul-
works upon which the revenue
depended.” This had disastrous con-
done to utilise and improve the
original canal system, but railway
crops exclusively for export. In
fact, the British colonial
that has remained hidden from pop-
ular perception is that Britain was
before it. The major ture and pastoral pursuits actually
rose to 73 percent in 1921 from
sequences, the effects of which are
being felt even today.
embankments were subsequently
thrown up, entirely destroying
rulers continued to export
food grains from India to
not the only beneficiary of colonial
rule. British trade regulations, even
reasons were food 61 percent in 1891. (Reliable figures Sir William Willcock, a distin- it. Some areas, cut off Britain as they discriminated against Indi-
for earlier periods are not avail- guished hydraulic engineer, whose from the supply of even dur- an business interests, created a
grains export and able.) name was associated with irrigation
Another popular misconception is enterprises in Egypt and
conversion of grain that the British modernised Indian Mesopotamia, had made an investi-
agriculture by building canals. gation of conditions in Bengal. He
producing land into Nothing could be farther from the had discovered that innumerable
cash crop truth. “The roads and tanks and
canals,” wrote G. Thompson in
small destructive rivers of the delta
region, constantly changing their
plantations “India and the Colonies”, 1838,
“'which Hindu or Mussulman Gov-
course, were originally canals
which under the English regime
ernments constructed for the ser- were allowed to escape from their
vice of the nations and the good of channels and run wild. Formerly

48 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 49
economy

tonnes. Then, in the mid-1960s, the


government with the help of agri-
usher in a revolution similar to the
Green and White revolutions and by
Today, India ranks
cultural scientists and, of course,
the country’s farmers ushered in
2020 India may emerge as the food
hub of the world.
second worldwide
new technology in agriculture. The Despite all the visible progress in farm output.
consequent green revolution made since Independence, poverty
brought about dramatic increase in has remained a somewhat India is the world’s
food grains production. intractable problem. Despite many
Land under active cultivation efforts in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, largest producer of
began to grow from 1.9 million leakages in government pro-
hectares [mHa] in 1960 to 15.5mHa grammes ensured that there was not
milk, cashew nuts,
[1970], 43mHa [1980], 64mHa [1990]
and about 124mHa [2008]. The
much success in poverty eradica-
tion. In recent years, however, the
coconuts, tea,
increase in the area under active
cultivation has been more due to
government of India has launched
time-bound programmes under its
ginger, turmeric
multi-cropping rather than any flagship Bharat Nirman schemes to and black pepper
major secular increase in new land eradicate poverty, provide guaran-
being brought under cultivation. In teed employment to those who need and the second
many parts of India today, farmers it, build rural infrastructure and
regularly raise two to three crops a ensure health and education for the largest producer of
year — something unheard of in the
past.
poorest of the poor.
Now a national unique identifica-
wheat, rice, sugar,
Food grains production, too, has
gone up from a mere 50 million
tion authority has been set up to
provide a unique identity to each
groundnut and
tonnes in 1951 to 231 million tonnes Indian above the age of 15. Such a inland fish
in 2007-08, and according to the lat- unique identification number will
est data, the country’s farmers have ensure that leakages are stopped
successfully achieved the targeted and government benefits actually
record production of 233 million reach those for whom they are
tonnes in 2008-09. Not only have designed. If things go according to
famines and food shortages become plan, India should see a dramatic
a thing of the past, India, since the reduction in poverty in the next few
late 1990s, has been in a position to years. And if a Goldman Sachs
export food grains. report is to be believed, by 2050
Today, India ranks second world- India will once again emerge as the
favourable trading environment the information technology sec- wide in farm output. India is the world’s second largest economy,
for other imperial powers. By STEEL STRENGTH: By 2012, India will tor. According to apex industry largest producer in the world of next to China and bigger than even
emerge as the second largest producer
1939, only 25 percent of Indian body Nasscom, the total revenues milk, cashew nuts, coconuts, tea, the United States. Whether that will
of steel in the world, next only to China
imports came from Britain. and may further treble steel generated by the information ginger, turmeric and black pepper. happen or not will largely depend on
Some 25 percent came from capacity by 2020 technology and IT-enabled ser- It also has the world’s largest cattle how successive Indian governments
Japan, the US and Germany. In vices sectors in 2008-09 were population (281 million). It is the manage the economy of an emerg-
1942-3, Canada and Australia about $ 60 billion and is expected second largest producer of wheat, ing giant.
contributed another 8 percent. In ment process in the early 1950s, to reach $ 71.7 billion in the current rice, sugar, groundnut and inland
the period immediately before inde- GDP growth has displayed a self- fiscal, accounting for about 6 per- fish. It is the third largest producer
pendence, Britain ruled as much on accelerating tendency, reaching a cent of India’s GDP. India is today of tobacco. India accounts for 10 per-
behalf of it’s imperial allies as it did level of 6 percent in the 1990s. the world’s largest exporter of IT cent of the world fruit production.
in it’s own interest. The process of In the new millennium, the GDP and IT-enabled products and ser- India’s food processing industry
“globalisation” was already taking growth rate has accelerated further vices with export earnings expected is, however, under-developed. But
shape. But none of this growth trick- averaging over 7 percent during the to touch $47 billion in 2009-10. India since 2004, the Indian government
led down to India. According to nine year period 2000-01 to 2008-09. is also the top destination for out- has introduced a slew of policy mea-
Mike Davis (Late Victorian Holo- Since 2004-05 till 2007-08, GDP sourcing jobs. sures and gradually the level of
causts) in the last half of the 19th growth rate averaged more than In the meantime, thanks to the processing has gone up from a
century, India’s income fell by 50 8 percent and even after the onset of Green revolution, food shortages dismal 6 percent to more than 10
percent. In the 190 years prior to the global economic meltdown in have become a thing of the past. percent now and is expected to
independence, the Indian economy the middle of 2008, India managed to Two hundred years of British rule go up to 20 percent by 2015.
was literally stagnant — it experi- post a GDP growth rate of 6.9 per- had completely destroyed the self- Similarly, value addition in
enced zero growth. cent in 2008-09. No wonder, India is sufficient agrarian economy of the food processing sector has
Before independence, during the now globally recognised as an eco- India. By the time the British left, gone up from 20 percent to
first five decades of the 20th centu- nomic powerhouse. A sleeping giant India was a net importer of food 26 percent during the last five
ry (1900-01 to 1946-47), the annual has awoken. grains. By the 1960s, the situation years and is expected to go up
average growth performance of the While India is once again gradu- deteriorated further with India hav- to 35 percent by 2015. The gov-
Indian economy was dismal, aver- ally emerging as an industrial and ing to import more than 10 million ernment now expects that the
aging a mere 0.9 percent. Since the manufacturing powerhouse, the tonnes. Total food production was food processing sector will
beginning of the planned develop- economy has made rapid strides in stagnating at around 50 million

50 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 51
economy

Having weathered the


slowdown, exports
are set for positive

WIDENING
growth in 2010 as
the rate of decline
drops considerably,
says Sushma
Ramachandran

horizons T
he outlook for India’s
merchandise exports now
looks set to improve over
the next few months,
giving rise to hopes that a positive
growth will finally be recorded by
January 2010. The exports data for
September clearly shows that the
rate of decline has dropped consid-
erably, even as global demand has
picked up.
One of the big strengths of the
Indian economy till the global
downturn set in last year was the
buoyancy of its exports, rising at
double-digit levels for the last few
years. This scenario was reversed
last year as the worldwide demand
for goods fell drastically.
From rising consistently every
month, exports began recording a
fall in the last fiscal. The low point
was reached in May this year when
exports fell by as much as 39
percent. But the outlook now is
clearer and much better. The data
for September shows the decline
has slowed down to 13.8 percent.
This apart, the green shoots of
recovery are becoming evident in
the developed world and exporters
are looking anxiously at the recov-
ery signals in the US and the
European Union as 40 percent of
overseas shipments go to these
two giant markets.
As per the latest data released by
the Commerce Ministry, India’s
outbound shipments slid to $13.6
billion in September, after sliding
19.4 percent in August.
Imports also dropped 31.3 percent
on an annual basis to $21.38 billion
compared to $31.14 billion in the
previous year.
Yet, on the plus side, this brought
the trade deficit to a manageable
level of $7.77 billion in September,
much narrower than $15.35 billion
last year. Exports contracted by
28.5 percent to $77.9 billion in the

52 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 53
economy

first six months of the current fis-


cal (April to September 2009) from
climate change and social sector
issues.
Resurgence in foreign
$108.9 billion in the same period
last year.
At the same time, a successful
conclusion of the negotiations could
trade, thus, not only
With exports to the main markets mean that both the EU and India brings in higher
of the US and Europe having would get better access to huge mar-
crashed, the government has been kets for goods and services. foreign exchange
trying to provide incentives to As of now, the negotiations do not
exporters to diversify to newer cover public procurement, which reserves but has a
markets. Commerce Minister India has been keeping out of the
Anand Sharma has claimed there treaty.
positive impact in
has been some partial success in
this direction.
New Delhi is also concerned about
tough certification procedures for
terms of employment
Sharma said India’s textile exports fruit and vegetables — an issue that and overall growth.
to Australia and New Zealand have has been raised from time to time
acted as a cushion to check the with the EU. It is, therefore, clear
sharp decline in exports. These two However, till the multilateral
countries were part of the 39 “new round of trade talks resumes in that the goal of 9-10
thrust markets” identified in the right earnest, India will have to
new Foreign Trade Policy. pursue the strategy of tying up percent economic
The African markets are also now
responding well to Indian products,
regional trade agreements to get
preferential access for its products
growth
giving rise to hopes that the coun- in the world’s largest markets.
try will go into the positive zone of Till last year, little urgency was Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh. The
exports in the next few months. seen in carrying out such negotia- demand for traditional items of
In fact, the government feels that tions even though the ASEAN-India export such as gems and handi-
exports will move to an uptrend by nessing a revival of sorts. India’s Sharma and US Trade Representa- free trade pact was concluded with- crafts has also picked up.
REVIVAL SIGNS: In November,
the last quarter of this fiscal in view readymade garment shipments top automaker Maruti Suzuki has tive Ron Kirk, the prospects for out much difficulty. In the current A resurgence in foreign trade,
of the diversification of the exports grew to $727 million from $686 reported a 100 percent rise in raising two-way trade in sectors difficult external environment, thus, not only brings in higher for-
basket to new markets in the last million a year ago, adding to the export of cars in October even as such as infrastructure, health care, such pacts have assumed much eign exchange reserves but has a
few months. optimism of firm recovery in the US economy reported an expan- services, education, communica- greater importance. positive impact in terms of employ-
the overall economy
This optimism, however, is based sion of 3.5 percent during the third tions technology and energy were The revival of demand has also ment and overall growth.
on the expectation that global recov- quarter. discussed. As for the proposed trade brought in its wake heartening It is, therefore, clear that the goal
ery will lead to a rise in demand for Thus far, the outlook seems bright While these are positive signs, the pact with the EU, negotiations have news that jobless artisans who had of 9-10 percent economic growth is
goods and services. for a gradual recovery, as the US government is also not waiting for been under way for nearly three returned to their villages are now only possible once the country’s
The worldwide recovery is cru- economy has finally returned to a complete global recovery and is years, but differences remain over coming back to major export cen- foreign trade returns to its earlier
cial and even Finance Minister growth in the third quarter of 2009 going ahead to enter into regional intellectual property rights, as also tres such as Surat in Gujarat and buoyancy.
Pranab Mukherjee has made it while France, Germany and Japan or bilateral trade pacts where pos-
clear that a return to nine percent have exited their recession in the sible. These include negotiations
growth will only be possible when last three months. with the European Union and fresh INDIA’S FOREIGN TRADE
the major markets of the US, the One clear indicator is the auto- rounds of trade talks with the US.
EU and Japan return to normal. mobile sector, which is already wit- In recent talks between Minister EXPORTS & IMPORTS: (PROVISIONAL)

OCTOBER APRIL-OCTOBER

Mixed signs about US economy recovery EXPORTS (including re-exports)


mericans have been spend- $47.9 billion, last month after A separate report from the 2008-2009 14131 123038

A ing more for the last two


months as their personal
income rose the most in six
increasing 0.6 percent in October.
Analysts had expected consumer
spending, which normally
department showed sales of newly
built single homes unexpectedly
plunged in November.
2009-2010
% Growth 2009-2010/ 2008-2009
13193
-6.6
91048
-26.0
months, but a surprise drop in accounts for more than two-thirds The seasonally adjusted annual
new home sales to a seven-month of US economic activity, to rise 0.6 rate of new home sales plummet- IMPORTS
low sent mixed signals about US percent. ed 11.3 percent to 355,000 in
economic recovery. Personal savings totalled $521.1 November compared to the prior 2008-2009 25869 210864
On December 23, 2009, the US billion in November, or 4.7 percent month, a Census Bureau report
Commerce Department said of disposable income, compared to said. 2009-2010 21994 148367
income climbed by 0.4 percent, or $516.7 billion in October. The November rate was the low- % Growth 2009-2010/ 2008-2009 -15.0 -29.6
$49.7 billion, during November, The report came one day after est since April, when new homes
after an upwardly revised 0.3 per- the government said that gross sold at an annualised rate of TRADE BALANCE
cent rise in October. That was the domestic product, the broadest 345,000. Sales of new construction
biggest gain since May, when it measure of economic activity, were expected to edge up to an 2008-2009 -11738 -87827
rose 1.5 percent. grew 2.2 percent in the third quar- annualised rate of 438,000 for the
Spending climbed 0.5 percent, or ter. month of November.
2009-2010 -8801 -57318
*Figures for 2008-09 are the latest revised whereas figures for 2009-10 are provisional.

54 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 55
economy

Motors introduced Jaguar and Land “India and China are the only
Rover, the iconic British brands it markets that have remained prof-
acquired last year. itable,” said Pawan Goenka, presi-
Similarly, Maruti Suzuki debuted dent of the Society of Indian Auto-
its Ritz, South Korea’s Hyundai mobile Manufacturers (SIAM).
launched the diesel i20, the Czech With the Indian auto industry
Republic’s Skoda showcased the growing at 15-25 percent annually
new Laura while Japan’s Toyota for the past five years, spurred by
rolled out the latest version of demand from the country’s large
sports utility vehicle, Land Cruiser. middle class with growing dispos-
Ernst and Young has predicted able incomes, some companies in
the Indian passenger car market to the country like Maruti Suzuki
grow at 12 percent annually over have even outgrown their parents.
the next five years to touch 3.75 mil- The auto industry feels the gov-
lion units by 2014 from 1.89 million ernment's initiatives — like more
units at present. funds for roads and highways with
“The industry’s turnover is esti- special focus on rural infrastruc-
mated to touch $155 billion by 2016," ture — would also go a long way in
said analysts with Ernst and Young, helping the industry.
adding this would make the Indian The two-wheeler industry too
auto industry the seventh largest in logged good growth with motorcy-
the world, and the third largest by cles and gearless scooters leading
2030, behind China and the U.S. the way. While Mahindra and
The government’s Automotive Mahindra debuted with its two-
Mission Plan also envisages India wheeler during the year after it
emerging as the world’s seventh bought the Kinetic group’s business,
largest carmaker by 2016, con- Bajaj Auto announced its decision to
tributing over 10 percent to the exit the scooters business that had
country’s $1.2-trillion economy become a household name with the
FROM PEOPLE’S CAR TO HIGH-END AVATAR: Tata’s first Nano, a Rs. 1 lakh car, was delivered to a Mumbai resident from under five percent at present. “Hamara Bajaj” campaign.
in July while German car manufacturer Volkswagen’s Beetle, commonly known as the Bug, entered India this year. Japan’s Honda launched the Jazz, India is also expected to consoli- Next year will see the entry of
the homegrown Mahindra and date its position as an automobile Daimler with its light commercial
Mahindra unveiled its multi-pur- hub, with 2.75 million units to be vehicle (LCV) Fuso Canter. Gener-

ON AUTO PILOT... pose Xylo, Italy’s Fiat drove in its


hatchback Grande Punto, and Tata

January
sold overseas and about a million
units in the domestic market.

April
al Motors will also enter LCV seg-
ment in India by 2011.

v Ford India announces the launch


Despite global gloom, ven as global auto majors coming years.” According to Garg, v Bus-making venture v Mahindra and of small car Figo

E
the Indian auto
industry is in top
gear and is expected
went into reverse gear in
2009, the Indian industry
largely bucked the trend,
launching new models for the
domestic market and registering
the B+ segment is expected to grow
30 percent by virtue of new launch-
es from Nissan (unnamed model),
Ford (Figo), Volkswagen (Polo),
and General Motors (Beat).
between
Motors
Tata
and
Brazil’s Marcopolo
goes on stream at
Dharwad, Karnataka v Maruti
Mahindra launch-
es two-wheelers

May
launches
v General Motors signs agreement
with Reva to develop electric car

October
to grow at 12 percent significant growth in exports. Spark, the compact car from Gen- v Maruti Suzuki’s first consign- premium hatchback Ritz v Tata Motors raises $750 million

MILESTONES
The year saw the commercial roll- eral Motors, will now come in an ment of A Star cars despatched v Tata Motors concludes an agree- through global depository
annually over the out of the world’s cheapest car, Tata electric version, thanks to a tie-up to Europe ment for amending bridge receipts and convertible notes
next five years, Nano, as also some expensive mod- with Reva Electric Car Co. v Ashok Leyland bags order to finance loan raised for acquiring v Mahindra and Mahindra launch-
els like the Rs. 37.5-million supply 875 low-floor CNG buses Jaguar and Land Rover, extending es 0.5-tonne four-wheel
touching $155 billion ($750,000) Phantom and the Rs. from Delhi Transport Corp the final maturity of $1 billion to compact truck at Rs.165,000
turnover by 2016, says 25-million ($250,000) Ghost (both
SWEET OCTOBER v Ashok Leyland bags $10.5-mn December 31, 2010. ($3,587)
from Rolls Royce), apart from Volk- Maruti Suzuki order from Honduran Army for
V. Jagannathan swagen’s famed Beetle, priced at v Total sale: 85,415 units supply of vehicles July November
Rs. 2 million ($40,000). v Jump: 32.45 percent (from same v First Nano delivered in Mumbai v H.W. Park takes over as new
During the year, the overall car month, previous year) February Hyundai Motors chief executive
market grew around 15 percent v Maruti’s Swift becomes the first September
Hyundai Motor India
over 2008, and a similar pattern is model to touch 300,000 in sales v Maruti decides to trans- December
v Total sale: 51,736 units
expected in 2010, experts maintain. in the shortest time of three form Gurgaon plant v Maruti exports 100,000 A Star
v Jump: 11 percent (from same
According to Neeraj Garg, Volk- years and eight months into engine assem- units
month, previous year)
swagen India group sales director: bly and machine v Mahindra and Mahindra
“Car manufacturers are betting on Bajaj (Two-wheelers) March facility and shift signs joint venture agreement
hatchbacks in the B+ segment. We v Total sale: 2,49,681 units v Tata Motors launches world’s production to with Yueda, China to set up a
expect the segment to constitute v Jump: 52.38 pc cheapest car Nano Manesar tractor plant there
nearly 75 percent of volumes in the

56 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 57
Cinema

Dreams
The moving image bedazzled, proferring new hopes...
new faces... and new music...

58 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 59
Cinema

S FOR
It was a year that saw audiences rejecting
big-budgeted senseless films and intelligent
movies making it to the top... For once, the
script was the king and the stars failed to

script not shine in front of it...


s we bid adieu to the year nosedived within days; Paa had a

STAR A
industry.
2009, it’s time to look
back and dissect a year
that was one of the most
challenging ones for the Hindi film
strong word of mouth, but the
numbers did not hold out for long.
New York had the advantage of
being the first release after the
strike and was a semi-hit, like the
For starters, the stand-off between multiplex-friendly Dev D, Kaminey
distributors and exhibitors didn’t and Wake Up Sid.
help. The backlog of releases The two major money-spinners of
resulted in too many films releasing the year were Love Aaj Kal and
in too short a time frame. And, with Ajab Prem Ki Ghajab Kahani. 3
one film cannibalising the other’s Idiots, which released on Christmas
business, no film was able to garnered phenomenal opening.
maximise its box-office potential. Other movies that made business
The other principal problem was include low-budget ones like Raaz
overpriced films releasing in a — The Mystery Continues, Dev D, 13
depressed market. Films produced, B, Phoonk, New York and Wake Up
co-produced and acquired in the Sid. Big-starrer and big-budget
boom period of 2006-2007 suddenly films like Kaminey and Wanted too
turned into unviable propositions clicked at the box office.
when revenue streams became Films like Firaaq, Gulaal and
parched. Quick Gun Murugun couldn’t get
For boutique producers, the the cash registers ringing, but
honeymoon is seemingly over as received appreciation from
corporate companies are exhibiting audiences and critics alike.
an appetite for acquiring and A lot of big-budget films received
co-producing only reasonably tremendous openings courtesy
priced products. A dozen biggies of round the clock promotions but fell
2010 are still lying unsold because of flat at the box-office.
individual producers still holding Some of them were 8X10 Tasveer,
on to their audacious asking prices Kal Kissne Dekha, Kambakkht Ishq,
with the hope of clinching a sale. Luck, Dil Bole Hadippa, What’s Your
Looking back at 2009, the box Raashee?, Do Knot Disturb, Blue,
office gave us only a handful of hits, Main Aurr Mrs. Khanna, London
with the majority biting the dust. Dreams, Aladin and Kurbaan.
Among others, the major duds of With the phenomenal opening
the year included Chandni Chowk weekend of Three Idiots, trade
To China, Delhi 6, Billu, Blue, Luck pundits hope that the Aamir Khan-
By Chance, Kambakkth Ishq, starrer repeats the same success
Shortkut, Luck, Tasveer, What’s story that Ghajini created last year.
Your Rashee, Kurbaan, Rocket Also they suggest some revival
Singh, Main Aur Mrs. Khanna, strategy in the new year.
Tum Mile and London Dreams. Film critic Omar Qureshi said:
Dil Bole Hadippa worked abroad “We must look at reinventing scripts
but bombed in India; De Dana Dan with a good story and a good star
bagged a solid opening, but cast. You cannot insult the audience
now and take them for granted. You
Some of the hit films of 2009: have to make intelligent movies.
(clockwise from top) Shahid Kapoor Look at a very intelligent but stupid
in ‘Kaminey;’ John Abraham in
‘New York;’ Saif Ali Khan and
movie Ajab Prem Ki Gazab Kahani
Deepika Padukone in ‘Love Aaj Kal;’ that worked wonders.”
modern-day Devdas Abhay Deol and “2010 should be high on creativity
Kalki Koechlin in ‘Dev D;’ Ranbir and hope the production costs come
Kapoor’s coming-of-age ‘Wake up down and a model is developed that
Sid;’ Salman Khan’s action-packed
‘Wanted;’ and intelligent but stupid is more effective than it was ever
film ‘Ajab Prem Ki Gajab Kahani’ before,” said Roy Kapoor.

60 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 61
Cinema

Cream of the lot... New dazzling faces


There weren’t too many hits this year, but Shahid, Priyanka and With the advent of 2010, let’s have a quick look at the newcomers who
Abhay rose above the script and towered above the rest... managed to win the audience’s heart in the year that has gone by...
any fail and few manage to suceed. Among Priyanka came up with a performance that deserves an resh faces failed to make a smashing debut in Sheena Shahabadi: For Sheena,

M the performances applauded and liked by


the audience are that of actors like Shahid
Kapoor, Abhay Deol and Priyanka Chopra.
Here is a list of 10 actors who made a mark in 2009:
award of the highest order.

Neil Nitin Mukesh: Through


sheer body language and man-
nerisms, Neil gave an excellent
F Bollywood this year. But actors like Mahie
Gill, Kalki Koechlin, Giselle Monteiro and
Shurti Haasan did stand out. Here are the list
of 10 newcomers who made a mark:
what worked most was the author-
backed role that she got in Tere
Sang. Playing a 15-year-old who
was looking at exploring life to the
fullest, she was easily the star of
Shahid Kapoor: It will be account of himself in both New Mahie Gill: She may well hold the the show and came up with a
quite a predicament for the York and Jail. He depicted var- record for being a debutante with bravura act that made Tere Sang
awards organisers as they will ied emotions, from being sub- the most number of releases in a believable.
have to nominate Shahid dued to getting sudden bouts of single year. First, she managed to
Kapoor as Best Actor and also aggression to helplessness to catch everyone’s attention as the Sohum Shah: The film Baabarr
Best Actor In A Negative Role final redemption. Neil is now new age Paro in Dev D, a modern- went largely unnoticed, but debu-
for Kaminey! The young actor bound to be taken far more day take on Sarat Chandra Chat- tant Sohum Shah stood tall as he
came of age with the film. seriously. topadhyay’s novel Devdas. Later, impressed most with his dialogue
she impressed in Anurag delivery. He is bound to be noticed
Abhay Deol: Abhay Saif Ali Khan: Saif, who has Kashyap’s next film Gulaal. She is a complete natural in a big way from here on, though
Deol has finally carved an been quite reliable for the last and one would love to see more of her. She also featured it would be interesting to see how
independent market for him- seven-eight years at least, played in the duds Aagey Se Right and Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas. he looks clean shaven.
self. The only hero in the completely diverse characters in
industry today who is a non- Love Aaj Kal and Kurbaan. It not Kalki Koechlin: Born to French Shruti Haasan: If there was one
conformist, he is getting good only proves that he is willing to parents, Kalki as a modern day quintessential Bollywood material
recognition. This guy certainly experiment and but also has Chandramukhi showed how to get that arrived in 2009, it was Shruti
knows that even without sere- range. the sensuality in place in Dev D. Haasan. However, poor script of
nading heroines around trees Good acting skills did not harm Luck ruined the pretty girl’s
or bashing 10 goons at a time, he can find an Salman Khan: One may argue if her cause. chances of starting off her Bolly-
audience for himself. Wanted is Salman’s career best wood outing with a smash hit. She
performance ever. Still, it is one Giselle Monteiro: has the body, the looks and the
Amitabh Bachchan: Time and film where Salman went all out She was the hidden treasure for the attitude. All she needs now is
again Amitabh Bachchan has in at least ‘being interested’ in entire team of Love Aaj Kal. With another good opportunity on a decent enough platform.
proved that he is not going the film. He wasn’t taking his her identity being unveiled only
away. For someone who has stardom for granted or being after the release of the film, she Nausheen Ali Sardar: In a small
been trapped in his own image careless about his looks. Most made countrywide news once it film, Three — Love, Lies, Betrayal,
for three decades, delivering a importantly, he wasn’t looking was declared that she was a which unfortunately went totally
lovable and heart-warming per- bored. Brazilian in the garb of a Punjabi unnoticed, Nausheen made a good
formance as a child in Paa is a ‘soni kudi’. switch from TV (Kkusum) to the
refreshing change. John Abraham: John Abraham big screen. Her role demanded her
can finally do away with his Chandan Roy Sanyal: Pretty to look sad and worn out in every
Ranbir Kapoor: Ranbir swimming trunks or showing his much following the route that was scene, but she didn’t complain.
Kapoor has really cleared the body beautiful for the next few laid out for Prateik Babbar when However, she didn’t miss a chance when she found a
way for other star sons with a years. His acting potential has he made his quiet ‘supporting good stage to demonstrate histrionics, especially dur-
series of flawless acts. The next finally been tapped, as evidenced actor’ debut with Jaane Tu Ya... ing the final moments of the film.
time a star son gets an oppor- by the career best performance Jaane Naa, Chandan was hardly
tunity to get an author-backed he delivered in New York. He did in the news until the release of Jacqueline Fernandes: Jacque-
role, let’s not complain. exceedingly well to bring a lump in the throat. Kaminey. He was truly discovered when line’s task was pretty much cut out
he played his part of Mikhail to perfection in the dark in Aladin. She had to look good and
Kareena Kapoor: Kurbaan crime thriller. this is where her Miss Sri Lanka
Priyanka Chopra: First, she wasn’t an easy film to do for crown came in handy. Moreover,
impressed with her deglamor- Kareena because of its theme of Jaccky Bhagnani: Even though she was indeed good in the couple
ised role in Kaminey and later a closet terrorist and betrayal in Kal Kissne Dekha didn’t work, of scenes where she was required
by playing it all, from a love. The film saw her doing Jackky did deliver. Quite confident to mouth dialogues in addition to
wannabe NRI to a wannabe quite well in bringing in varied in front of the camera, he neither just smiling. Just like Katrina
model to an imposing super emotions like love, shock, help- overplays nor underplays his part. Kaif who started off her career with her good looks
business woman to a sexed up lessness, despair, disgust and Though a better script would have and fair acting capabilities, Jacquline too has a
‘sadhvi’ in What’s Your horror. helped, Kal Kissne Dekha did act as future in Bollywood.
Raashee?. After Fashion, — Joginder Tuteja, Mumbai a show reel for young Bhagnani. — Joginder Tuteja, Mumbai

62 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 63
Cinema

Actor Ben Kingsley,

Dance to its beats who will be seen in


Bollywood director
Leena Yadav’s ‘Teen
Lets take a look at the most popular Bollywood chartbusters of 2009 Patti’, says women
ollywood churns out hundreds of films and Chakraborty’s composition. Sung by Neeraj Shridhar,
have a different

B many more songs year after year since music


is an integral part of Indian cinema. Lets take
a look at the 10 best songs of 2009 from vari-
ous genres that created waves in the music industry
and remained audiences’ favourite once released. The
Aahun aahun keeps juggling between the two genres
and sets the mood.

‘Hadippa’: Mika Singh and Sunidhi


Chauhan teamed up to sing Hadip-
perspective when it
comes to directing
movies and loves
being directed by
list shows that Pritam Chakraborty and A.R. Rahman pa that spells loads of energy. It’s
rule the chart. foot-tapping composition made it a females
hit dance number. The song from
‘Dhan te nan’: Composed by Vishal the film Dil Bole Hadippa was com-
Bhardwaj, the song from Kaminey is posed by Pritam Chakraborty and it
edgy and energetic. Sukhwinder sort of reinvented Punjabi folk. It’s
Singh and Vishal Dadlani go behind perfect to play at any celebration.
the mike for the track and while
Sukhwinder gives it a rustic flavour, ‘Chiggy Wiggy’: Bollywood show-
Vishal adds the rock touch to the cased its international connect with
song. Dhan te nan has a certain the song Chiggy wiggy from not-so-
magic that is intriguing and holds the interest of the hit film Blue as it was sung by inter- ACTOR BEN KINGSLEY with
listener till the very end — the reason why it topped national pop star Kylie Minogue Bollywood icon Amitabh
the music charts. with ample support from Sonu Bachhan in ‘Teen Patti’
Niigaam. The first part of the song is
‘Emosanal attyachaar’: Bollywood in English and thus completely west-

The return of
music got a boost in the very begin- ern, but Sonu enters with the dhol and brings in the
ning of 2009 with hit, energetic and Hindi flavour. This one is also Rahman’s composition
instantly likable number Emosanal and went on to register itself among the hits of the year.
Attyachaar. Crooned by Bony
Chakravarthy, the song from Dev D ‘Tera hone laga hoon’: Pakistani “Female directors
that echoed the music of marriage bands, was
composed by Amit Trivedi. The quirky number became
a favourite of the younger generation and stood out
among other songs released during that period.
Singer Atif Aslam yet again proved
his prowess with the song in the
recently released film Ajab Prem Ki
Ghazab Kahani. One of the most
KINGSLEY see things that
guys miss. I
‘Masakalli’: This expressive number from the film
romantic songs of the year, the duet
also had Alisha Chinoi behind the scar-winning veteran In Teen Patti, he has teamed up
respond well to
Delhi-6, sung by Mohit Chauhan,
bowled people over. An A.R. Rah-
man composition, it’s a free flowing,
addictive, fun song. Masakalli is still
being played on music channels and
mike. It’s a beautiful, soothing love
ballad that pulls on your heart-
strings. Once again a Pritam’s composition.

‘Paisa Paisa’: The track from De


O actor Ben Kingsley, who
will be seen in Bollywood
director Leena Yadav’s
crime thriller Teen Patti as a nar-
rator, says he loves working with
with Bollywood legend Amitabh
Bachchan. He, however, warns that
his is a very small part in the
movie, but he enjoyed working with
Indian cast and crew.
female direction.
The ego is in a
different place”
radio and it’s expected to stay with Dana Dan has a Punjabi touch. The women directors and responds well “It’s a very, very small part... I
music buffs for some time to come catchy number is again from to them as they see things men keep appearing in little scenes in — Ben Kingsley
owing to its mirthful mood. Pritam’s stable and is a huge hit at miss. “I just did two other films the film as a storyteller.”
the DJ consoles. with female directors. I like being “It was an opportunity to work release on February 12. “I’m going
‘Hai junoon’: The song from New directed by females. They bring a with an Indian crew again after to be very very busy from February
York caught the attention of young different eye through the camera Gandhi. It was an opportunity to 2010 onwards.”
listeners for its hip and foot-tapping ‘Aal Izz Well’: Last and an unusual perspective,” Kings- work with Mr. Bachchan, who is an Kingsley is a bit alarmed by all
music. Sung by KK in his signature but not the least is Aal Izz Well ley said. icon in his own field. It’s interesting the hype surrounding his next pro-
style and composed by Pritam from 3 Idiots — the track has Yadav is the third woman to to mix cultures in a film to see how ject Taj Mahal, which according to
Chakraborty, it topped the charts. raw energy and youthful direct Kingsley. “Female directors different people from different back- reports may feature Aishwarya Rai
spunk. It’s a fun campus song that see things that guys miss. I respond grounds can be so very synchro- as Mughal emperor Shah Jehan’s
‘Aahun aahun’: One of the is filled with whistles in the well to female direction. The ego is nized and work together. We wife Mumtaz.
biggest hits of the year was from the background. Sung by Sonu in a different place. They are worked very intensely. We hit a “It’s very, very, very early days to
film Love Aaj Kal. It has an Niigaam, Swanand Kirkire and focussed on fundamental things like very quick working rhythm,” talk about that project. The ink is
electrifying start with the strum- Shaan and composed by Shan- narrative and human behaviour Kingsley said. hardly dry on the script. It’s coming
ming of the guitar and is an amalga- tanu Moitra, it was lapped up rather than issues that may be dis- Much as he enjoyed his cameo in together. We’ve a beautiful script.
mation of a hit Punjabi pop song by by music lovers as soon as it came out. torted by the male ego,” the Holly- Teen Patti, Kingsley would be And we’ve some financial interest
singer Jazzy B and Pritam — Ruchika Kher, New DElhi wood actor said. unable to come to India for its being shown in the project.”

64 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 65
Culture
A big fat Indian affair... a simple yet spiritual union...a
pilgrimage to Kashi on D-day...tying knots in the middle
of constant blowing of conch shells... a sumptuous
wedding feast in Paradise on Earth...

66 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 67
culture

WEDDING
COLOURS
Indian weddings are a heady cocktail of ceremony and rituals. The colours
and the emotions, the food and the finery, the music and the jazz, all make
it an affair of a lifetime, says Nandini Banerjee
“Weddings in North India are
he sights and smells, noise try is recession proof!” declared Forbes list of ‘Billionaire Weddings’ definitely a huge affair. People here Even though no
T and fervour, pomp and
grandeur, rites
rituals… Can any other
occasion on Earth ever match the
great Indian wedding saga?
and
Divya Gurwara, founder of Bridal
Asia, an annual wedding exhibition
held in India. “I believe this is the
only industry that has not been
affected by recession because
in 2004.
US-based 34-year-old hotelier
Vikram Chatwal of the multi-conti-
nental hotel-and-restaurant chain
Hampshire Hotels in
love to live life king-size and that
reflects in their wedding cere-
monies as well,” adds wedding
planner Mohan.
The wedding season is at its peak
reliable figures
are available
Indian weddings are a heady
cocktail of ritual and ceremony laid
wedding is a one-time affair and no
one wants to compromise on the
Manhattan, set another example
when he tied the knot with model-
from November to March every
year. Owing to Bollywood, the bridal
about the size
out like a cultural extravaganza.
Rites and rituals form their back-
quality. Hence people don’t mind
spending,” Gurwara added.
actor Priya Sachdeva in 2006.
Chatwal’s wedding celebrations
wear market is flourishing unabat-
ed. “Earlier, people used to go to
of the Indian
bone and every region, religion,
community and sect have their own
Even though no reliable figures
are available about the size of the
lasted almost a week, with 10 par-
ties spread over three Indian cities
select shops or markets that were
famous for bridal wear. Today, peo-
wedding
fascinating versions.
They celebrate the beginning of a
Indian wedding industry, various
estimates place it at Rs. 500-600
and attended by over 1,000 guests.
Delhi-based Mohan, who planned
ple want to wear what their
favourite actor wore in a movie,”
industry, various
shared life, assign roles, break the
ice, and seek promises of loving and
billion ($10-12 billion), with an
annual growth of 25 percent.
Chatwal’s wedding, said: “It was
the biggest wedding that I ever
famous designer Ritu Kumar, who
specialises in couture wear, said. estimates place
living together. India, an amalgama-
tion of different ethnic groups,
Weddings mean an elaborate
affair for Indians, but with wedding
conducted.”
Though Indian weddings are an
It is just the beginning. Today, a
middle-class wedding comes to it at Rs. 500-600
varied cultures and different
languages, offers a lot of vivid
planners now joining the fiesta,
they have become more lavish and
elaborate affair, North Indian wed-
dings are extravagant. “People spend
about Rs. 5 million ($107,850), minus
the jewellery. People have the billion ($10-12
colours in its wedding ceremonies. stylish. Inspired by Bollywood, the because they have to prove a point money and they are splurging.
Thanks to Indians’ love for exu- planners arrange theme-based, cus- that the wedding hosted by them was You will hear more about lavish billion), with an
berance, pomp and extravaganza, tomised weddings. The $60 million better than others and for this, they weddings like Mittals or Chatwals
the billions-worth Indian wedding
industry continues to flourish,
wedding of steel tycoon Lakshmi
Mittal’s daughter in Paris set the
don’t mind spending extravagantly.
This trait is more visible in North
in coming days. In this special
issue, we bring to you a snapshot of
annual growth
notwithstanding the global eco-
nomic crisis. “The wedding indus-
best example of the “big fat Indian
wedding”. It also featured in the
India where people like to show off,”
Lalita Raghav pointed out.
how weddings are celebrated
across the country.
of 25 percent

68 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 69
culture

WAH WAH
ashmir, known as “Par-

BALLE K adise on Earth”, the land


of beautiful valleys and
snow-clad mountain
peaks, stretching plains with

BALLE
flowerbeds and frizzy air, has
entirely different traditions — the
folk-lore, dress and cuisine — from
the rest of the country.
Kashmiris form a distinct cultur-
WAZWAN!
The aroma gives you an out of the world
Drum beats overwhelm you, fun tops al and ethnic group — effervescent,
its all and you are sucked into yet elaborate and easy-going. This feeling as Kashmiris plan their weddings with
characteristic trend is reflective in
riotous festivities. A Punjabi their weddings as well. some exceptional rituals. Join the festivities...
wedding, literally, is one of the most THE RITUALS
colourful occasions on Earth where Livun is an exceptional ritual
each ceremony is like an excuse found only among Kashmiris. It is
about cleaning the houses of the
for more merriment... bride and groom. For this, a mahu-
rat (auspicious time) is calculated
o the beats of balle balle, and told to the respective families.

T Punjabis — billed as the


most cheerful people on
Earth — celebrate the
union of two souls in a carnival-
like jubilation.
The next ritual is called devgon,
which is a havan performed at both
the houses. Here, prayers are
offered by both the bride and the
bridegroom, which transfers them
from the brahmacharya stage of life
A HOLY BEGINNING to the grihasta one.
A Punjabi wedding is an elaborate
affair. It has a number of rituals THE CEREMONY
and music and dance programmes The wedding ceremony has the
every evening till the D-day. The bride and the groom seated with the
norm is that they gather in the pres- priest in front of the holy fire. The
ence of the Guru Granth Sahib, the priest tells them about their duties.
Sikhs’ holy book. They follow the Next, a ritual Athwas makes the
usual Hindu marriage rituals like girl and the boy cross their arms
those of Phera around the havan one over the other and hold hands.
and Kanyadaan. Other merry- Their hands are covered with a
making rituals like Ladies Sangeet The sehra is tied on the boy’s head cloth. A golden thread called man-
and Juta Chepai bring in more fun. either by the father or an elderly anmal is then tied to the foreheads
relative. The sehra is tied over the of both the bride and the groom.
THE RITUALS turban. Varmala is one interesting Once done, the left feet of the
Sagan is the first ceremony in a set ritual where the bride and bride- bride and the groom, kept one upon
of long wedding rituals. Here, the groom exchange garlands. Tradi- the other, are placed on a kajwat (a
two families exchange gifts and con- tionally, the girl has to put the grinding stone used in Kashmiri
form the engagement. garland around the boy’s neck. kitchens). The first round (phera)
Churha or the bangles’ ceremony The bridegroom comes riding a around the sacred fire is made by
is a significant one. The girl’s horse to the bride’s door. The time stepping on seven Re. one silver
maternal uncle gives the wedding for the pherey or the actual wedding coins (placed in a circle), while the
dress. In this, the bride’s maternal comes late in the evening. Here, the other six rounds are done to the Preparations are on for a
uncle and aunt (mama and mami) boy and the girl sit in front of the chant of mantras. The bride and the Kashmiri wedding feast
adorn her wrists with red and Guru Granth Sahib. bridegroom finally feed each other
white bangles. On these bangles are The brief ceremony of the some food (essentially rice), signi-
tied the Kalira — light ornaments circumambulation of the Granth fying the end of the ceremony. Vyath Chaman and Nich Chaman ceremony that takes place after the
of beaten silver and gold — which Sahib ends with the reading of the are two spicy paneer dishes. marriage.
makes it impossible for the bride to ardas, a rousing salutation to the 10 THE CUISINE Nadroo Hakh is a dish made of It has the bride’s parents sending
perform any household task, as the Sikh Gurus. The Kashmiri feast has a variety lotus stem along with Kashmiri a one-metre long, two-and-a-half
Kaliras get in the way. Mehendi is The bride’s father then puts a ring of dishes like the Dumaalu made of saag. An overwhelmingly generous metre wide baked cake decorated
applied to the bride after the on the boy’s finger and gives his potatoes and spices and Nadrooy- meal, wazwan is the soul of Kash- with nuts. Roth is accompanied
Churha ceremony. daughter to the boy. This ritual is akhni, made of the lotus plant. miri Muslim weddings. with a Nabad Note — dry fruits and
Another important ritual is known as Kanyadaan. It is after the Chock Wangun is a dish of brinjals Shireen. These are then distributed
Sehrabandi. This takes place before Kanyadaan that the seven pheras that tastes bitter because of the UNUSUAL CUSTOMS amongst neighbours, friends and
the boy leaves for the bride’s house. begin, to complete the wedding. spices in it. Roth Khabar is an interesting relatives of the bridegroom.

70 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 71
culture

A series of elaborate
and colourful rituals
mark a Bengali
wedding where the
couple is also subjected
to some good humoured
ragging and fun

OF SHANKH
& ULLOOSS AN AFFAIR
B
engali weddings are full of
amazing rituals that not
only bless you but also
make you cherish the
once-in-a-lifetime experience.
OF COLOURS
Manipur celebrates the union of two souls in a vibrant and eloquent
A typical Bengali wedding takes
place with imploring the ancestors
expression of joy and sorrow, just like its classical dance form...
to be present and shower blessings
on the “to be married” couple. A cul- rom India’s far-east corner, the forehead. Chakma women wear
ture-conscious community, Bengalis
enjoy the multi-hued celebrations.
To begin with, the Dodhi Mangal
ceremony takes place in both the
An interesting feature of the
ceremony is the blowing of conch F Manipuri wedding emerges
as the most unique of all
Indian wedding celebra-
tions. Their celebration takes place
bangles and anklets, as well as coin
earrings and necklaces. Garo
women do their hair in bun style,
which they then adorn with flow-
houses on the D-day before sunrise.
The wedding is quite a boisterous shells at regular intervals in the midst of a riot of colours that
begins with the unique bridal
ers. Magh women use a kind of
herbal powder or wood paste to
affair like any other Indian wed-
ding. But there aren’t too much of symbolising purefaction attire of the girl. The Manipuris
prefer weddings in their own com-
lighten their faces.

gregarious rituals as it goes along. munity but are open to inter-caste THE RITUALS
Ashirwaad is a quiet ceremony The RITUALS to the bridegroom and the couple’s unions. Before the wedding, parents of the
that takes place on the day of the Bor jatri: The members of the hands are bound by the sacred bridegroom go to meet the bride’s
actual wedding. It is marked with bridegroom’s house as well as his thread amidst recital of Vedic THE COSTUMES parents. This starting approach is
the bridegroom’s family members friends dress in their best attire chants and are placed on the man- The Manipuri bridal dress is termed Hinaba. The horoscopes are
coming over and blessing the girl and moves towards the bride’s gal ghot. unique. It is essential for the bride matched and if both are agreeable,
with gifts. house where the wedding takes Saat paak: Seven circular to wear the Raslila skirt. The skirt then the date for the next meeting young boy washes his feet. At this
Along with the presents come the place. rounds are taken by the couple comes in vibrant colours and is is fixed. In the next meeting, called point, a kirtan is organised and tra-
turmeric paste — a unique feature Saat paak: The bride, seated on a around the fire, thereby solemnis- made to look gorgeous with heavy Yathang Thanaga, the consent is ditional music is played. Two
in Bengali tradition. low-wooden stool called pidi, is ing the occasion. ornamental pieces. The bride- given by the girl’s parents. women from both sides release a
With turmeric paste, commences lifted by her brother and is taken Sindoor daan: The bridegroom groom, on the other hand, is The next stage is Waroipot puba pair of taki fish into the water, sym-
the most interesting stage — the round the bridegroom in seven applies sindoor or vermilion on the dressed in all whites — white dhoti, where the bridegroom’s family mem- bolising the presence of bridegroom
Gaye Halud ceremony. The turmer- circles. The significance is they are bride’s forehead. The bride then kurta and turban. bers bring food to the girl’s place. and the bride. It is an auspicious
ic paste is the same with which the winded up securely to each other. covers her head with a new sari Kirtans are organised and Finally the engagement, called Hei- sign if the pair of fish moves side by
bridegroom had taken a bath. The Mala badal: The bride and groom offered by the bridegroom as ghom- shehnais are played when the bride japot, is declared among friends and side in the water.
bride wears the yellow-coloured then exchange garlands thrice. ta or veil. and bridegroom complete the seven relatives. Relatives of the boy’s side
sari, applies the same paste and Subho drishti: The couple are rounds around the sacred fire. then go to the girl’s parents with AN UNUSUAL CUSTOM
takes a bath. The idea is to incul- made to look at each other in front AN UNUSUAL CUSTOM fruits, food and presents. The bride comes to visit her par-
cate an element of familiarity. of all the assembled invitees. This Kaal ratri: After the couple ORNAMENTS & COSMETICS A convoy of cars is considered as ents for the first time after five days
The most lovable thing through- exchange of glances is to initiate reaches the bridegroom’s house and The Manipuris have a very limited a status symbol. The men dress in into wedding, thus providing an
out the wedding is the constant them together by the society. the initial welcome ceremony is variety in ornaments. Santal and dhoti and kurta with a shawl occasion for a sumptuous feast. All
blowing of conchshells. Sampradan: The bride then over, they are separated for the Oraon women wear ornaments in wrapped around and women in members of the clan are invited to
It is a hallmark of Bengali festiv- takes her place at the chadnatolla night, to get a refreshing sleep and their hands, feet, nose, ears and pink fanek and white chader. the festivity and they bring rice,
ities and fills in the atmosphere a where an elderly male member of prepare for the next day — Bou neck. Oraon women tie their hair The Manipuri bride groom is wel- meat, fowls, pigs, money and alco-
feeling of rejoice. the bride’s family hands her over Baat (reception). in a peak style and wear a tikli on comed by lighting a pradip and a hol as gifts.

72 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 73
culture

SIMPLE, SPIRITUAL
Simple is beautiful
and nothing but a
typical Malayalee
wedding can be a
better proof of this.
It does not involve
religious
compulsions; rather,
spirituality is the key

INTRICATE, VIBRANT ontrary to the rest of the

Be it leaving on a ‘pilgrimage’ or touching the yoke of a farmer’s


plough to the bride’s forehead, a Tamil wedding is replete with rituals C country’s big fat wedding
extravaganza, involving a
series of customs and
ceremonies, the Malayalee wedding
ceremony is very simple and brief.
imple living is the mantra OONJAL MUHURTUM Although elaborate rituals are

S that the Tamilians believe in


and therefore their weddings
are not necessarily extrava-
gant affairs. Yet, a large number of
rituals are followed over a period of
When the couple finally succeeds
in garlanding each other thrice, they
are made to sit together on a swing.
Married women from the families
give spoonful of milk and banana
With the help of her sister-in-law
and other senior ladies, the bride
changes into a nine-yard sari and
again enters the mandapam. A sack
of paddy is placed on the floor. The
not followed at the wedding, the cer-
emony is very impressive and full
of joy. It is divided into three phas-
es. During the pre-wedding days,
the muhurtham and date for the
four days. pieces. They circle rice balls around bride’s father is seated on this and engagement and wedding are fig-
the couple in circular motions, in the bride sits on her father’s lap. ured out. On the engagement cere-
MANGALA SNAANAM clockwise and anti-clockwise direc- The yoke of a farmer’s plough is mony, the nishchaya thaamboolam
The mangala snaanam is the tions and fling them away. This rite touched to the bride’s forehead. are exchanged by the prospective
auspicious and purifying bath that is believed to prevent evil forces This gesture carries the hope that bride and bridegroom’s parents.
the bride and bridegroom must from disrupting the wedding cere- the couple will always walk togeth- Exchange of the engagement ring
have in their respective homes on mony. Songs like Oonjal Paattu are er by each other’s side to pull the also takes place the same day.
the dawn of their wedding day. sung during this ritual. plough of life. The priest and rela- The wedding ceremony is pre-
tives bless the mangalsutra and ceded by a ritual, wherein the bride
KASHI YATRA KANYADAANAM hand it to the bridegroom who ties and bridegroom seek blessings from
This is an interesting ritual and The bride’s father welcomes the it around the neck of his bride with their elderly family members by
adds an element of colour and
drama to the occasion. After the
bridegroom when he comes to the
mandapam. The bride’s father wash-
two knots. The groom’s sister ties
the third knot. The three knots
touching their feet. The custom
paves the way for the nuptial knot, Malayalee post-wedding rituals
mangala snaanam, the bridegroom es his future son-in-law’s feet. symbolise the marriage of the which is tied either at the bride’s
pretends to leave for Kashi, a pil- Through this gesture, the father con- mind, spirit and body. ancestral home or in a temple. The are limited to grihapravesham and
grimage centre. The girl’s father veys that the boy is an incarnation wedding ceremony is followed by
intervenes and requests him to
accept his daughter as his life part-
of Lord Vishnu and believes that he
will take good care of his daughter.
SAPTAPADI
Next, the bridegroom takes the
reception, traditional feast and
grihapravesham.
traditional feasting, which makes
ner. The bridegroom relents and
returns to the mandapam where he
The bride sits on her father’s lap
with a coconut in her hands. They
bride’s right hand in his left hand
and leads her around the sacred fire THE RITUALS
the ceremony a very brief one
is received by the bride. offer the coconut to the bridegroom seven times. The bride begins each The Malayalees start prepara- maternal house of the bride. followed by feasting at the bride’s
while the bride’s mother pours round by touching her feet to a tions for wedding well before the Malayalee post-wedding rituals home and thereafter, at the groom’s
EXCHANGE OF GARLANDS water over the coconut thus sym- grinding stone. This signifies her ceremony. The actual ceremony is are limited to grihapravesham and residence. The bride enters her
The bride and the groom bolising the ‘giving away of their hope that their union may be as short and crisp, and is held in the traditional feasting, which makes ‘new home’, with her mother-in-law
exchange garlands thrice where daughter’. The groom’s parents gift firm and steadfast as the grinding morning. The most preferred loca- the entire ceremony a very brief offering her a traditional lamp and
they are teased by relatives. the bride a nine-yard sari. stone. tion to conduct the wedding is the one. The wedding rituals are also escorting her inside.

74 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 75
culture

THE WHITE
FIESTA
Sample a traditional Catholic wedding with a
twist of Goan local flavour...
aiety and merrymaking Then all the wedding preparations

G mark the ceremonies


of traditional Catholic
weddings, and Goa is no
exception. Although a Goan church
begin. According to Goan tradi-
tions, the bride and bridegroom are
required to bath in coconut water
on the night prior to the wedding.

THE ROYAL TOUCH


With solemn and ostentatious ceremonies, Rajputs, the warrior clan of
wedding varies in some details to
its western counterpart, it basical-
ly follows the diktat of a catholic
wedding.
On the morning of the D-day, the
beautician comes from the bride-
groom’s side to dress the bride. The
bride wears a white wedding gown,
and covers her face with a veil of
THE CUSTOMS white lace. She proceeds to the altar
India, carry on their grand old tradition of royal family weddings The proposal for a traditional on her father’s arm, with a brides-
Goan wedding comes from the girl’s maid carrying her trail behind her.
hey may not be ruling and regal shoes. Surprisingly, the elegant, poised and individualistic. family. The boy and the girl meet Preceding her are the pageboys,

T kingdoms anymore, but


Rajputs are the only clan
in India who have carried
forward the tradition of the royal
family weddings, with the bride-
groom too wears some eye-dazzling
jewellery, such as a serpech, that is
worn on the turban. Also, the groom
wears a necklace and a waistband.
For one thing, the Rajput baraat is
an all men’s affair. Ladies do not
take part in the procession. The
groom usually rides an elephant or
a horse and carries a sword. Also,
for the first time in the presence of
elders. If they give their consent to
the wedding, the union is finalised
and the discussions and planning
for the ceremonies begin. Once
flowermaids and the bridesmaid.
At the altar, the priest talks
about the couple that are to be
joined in wedding, the choir sings
hymns, and there are readings
grooms’ riding elephants and the THE RITUALS each of the other male members of engaged, the couple are at liberty to from the Bible, specially chosen
brides’ decked up in diamonds and Rajput wedding rituals begin the family carry a sword. meet without restrictions. for the occasion.
other precious stones. with the janev ceremony, in which The groom is then taken by the The brides wedding finery — In the presence of two witnesses
The ceremonies are always the groom is made to wear a sacred bride’s mother to the ladies section gown, veil, handkerchief, shoes and from either side, the groom and the
solemn and the proceedings are thread on the eve of his becoming after performing the traditional purse — is provided by the bride- bride declare their intention to
marked with ostensible firmness. the house-holder. He is made to aarti. He then proceeds towards groom’s family. They also provide take each other as man and wife.
The Rajput weddings, as a rule, are wear a saffron robe and perform a the wedding mandap. In all this, all the wedding attire for the brides- The bridegroom declares his wed-
grand traditional affairs. yagna with the priest. The Rajputs only a married male relative or a maids, the flower girls and the page- ding vows. The priest blesses the
wear the saffron robe with the brother or a male cousin accompa- boys. The wedding rings for both rings and the couple then put them
BRIDAL WEAR thought that the groom has two ny him. the girl and the boy are made by on each other’s left ring fingers.
The bride wears a traditional choice before him. One, that of The wedding takes place with the the bridegroom. The bridegroom’s Once the nuptials are through,
Rajasthani poshak. It comprises a renouncing the world by becoming yagna fire and the vedic mantras, mother orders sweets for the entire the mass continues with prayers
ghagra (a long-pleated skirt), blouse an ascetic, and the other of getting followed by the pheras. The only village, which have to be distribut- and blessings for the couple. A com-
and a dupatta. The clothing is married and accepting the respon- exceptional thing about the whole ed by the bride along with young munion service and the signing of
always colourful as to put up a sibilities of marriage . At the end of thing is that the bride has to keep spinsters around her would-be hus- the register follow this. The couple
contrast to the dull bleached hue of the yagna, the groom has to act as her face hidden behind a long veil band’s village. then walks down the aisle, arms in
the sands. A bright parrot green is if he wants to become an ascetic by throughout the marriage. It is most- Wedding banns or notices are arm, to the strains of “The Wedding
a favourite. A lot of jewellery adorn running away. And the maternal ly attended by the women folk of read at the church after the church March”. After that, everyone pro-
the bride like Rakhri (a circular uncle tries to stop him and con- the family as the men of the house service for three consecutive Sun- ceeds to the venue for the reception.
piece of jewellery for the forehead), vince him to get married. remain busy tending after the days, calling for any objections to
hanging earrings, the timaniyaan The next custom is Palla Dastoor. barati and other guests. the union from any of the parish- BRIDE’S DEPARTURE
(a choker-studded with uncut dia- This is quintessential to the ioners. This is done to safeguard Outside the reception hall, the
monds), the chooda (a set of ivory Rajputs. It involves the people from THE CUISINE the interests of both the families bride’s family assemble at one end
and gold bangles), gold armlets, the boy’s family coming with the Rajput cuisine comprise vegetarian and avoid the possibility of any and the bridegroom and his family
gold anklets, gold toe-rings, and a trousseau — palla dastoor, a day or as well as non-vegetarian fare, deception. at the other end. Wine is spilt in the
nose-ring. two before the wedding with a set of including traditional Rajasthani A week after the last bann is centre to make a partition. Then the
The traditional attire for the things like the clothes and the jew- dishes like daal-bati churma. In non- read, the priest from the girl’s bride’s father hands the bride over
Rajasthani male includes a long ellery, which the bride has to wear vegetarian, there is a diverse choice church sends a no-objection certifi- to the groom and the couple depart
coat in golden colour — known as at the wedding and also some gifts. of seafood, tandoori-mixed grill with cate, along with the birth and mar- in the wedding car. Everyone show-
achkan. Then there is the saffron Rajput baraat is different from chicken, lamb and fish; and a smat- riage certificate, and the bann is er confetti on the couple as they
turban worn along with a churidar all other Indian baraat styles. It is tering of curry offerings. read to the boy’s parish priest. leave to start their new life.

76 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 77
Wander
A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on
arriving...
...Lao Tzu

78 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 79
travel

Paradiso
Goa
A favourite haunt
of domestic and
international
travellers alike,
Goa is truly a
delightful place.
Explore its natural
beauty and indulge
yourself in its
vibrant lifestyle...

oa dances to the tune of ‘The Rome of the East’, it is where Konkan region, bordering Bijapur and conquered the region. Liberation Day to commemorate

G Mandos, sways to the


rhythm of the
fisherman’s oar and the
soothing sounds of heaving and
crashing sea waves. Palm trees,
Portuguese blended with Indian,
giving birth to the colourful and
lively Goan culture. Goa was a
Portuguese colony for nearly 450
years.
Maharashtra to the north, and
Karnataka to the east and south.
Goa is well connected to the
spectacular western Konkan
region comprising the western
Velha Goa or Old Goa was the
auxiliary capital of the Adil Shahi
dynasty. Goa continued to be part
of Portugal even after India’s
independence in 1947. On
freedom from Portuguese
dominion.

A Kaleidoscope
Goa is a kaleidoscope of different
white-sand beaches, colourful Tucked away on the exquisite coasts of Maharashtra to the north December 19, 1961, the Indian religions, ethnic groups, races and
festivals, a vibrant nightlife, exotic west coast of India, on the Arabian and Karnataka to the south. Government took Goa, after a faiths but every Goan celebrates
sea-food and magnificent Sea, Goa is the smallest state in The Portuguese arrived in Goa failed negotiation between India the joi de vivre of love and
architecture — it is home to the India. Spread across a little over in the year 1510 as merchants, and Portugal. On December 17 harmony. They are also at once
happy-go-lucky Goan. Often called 3,700 sqkm, it is located in the defeated the ruling Adil Shahis of every year, Goa celebrates simple and flamboyant. Hindus

80 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 81
travel

Mario’s
vignettes
o story will be

N complete without
mention of Mario
Joao Carlos do Rosario de
Britto Miranda, or ‘Mario
Mirando’, among India’s
most incisive cartoonists. It is said of
him: “Nobody is better equipped to
capture vignettes of Goan life than
Mario Miranda.” Mario captures the
soul of Goa through his finely-etched
lines. He has worked with some of the
top newspapers of the country and has
also lent his work to the iconic MAD and
Punch magazines. Mario has held solo
exhibitions in 22 different countries. He
was awarded the Padma Bhushan in
2002 and the Padma Shri in 1988.

form nearly 65 percent of Goa’s beaches promise you the ultimate


population, Christians 26 percent, fun and romantic holiday Calangute, known as the ‘Queen of cafes and restaurants on the Basilica of Bom Jesus
and Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, experience. Every beach is worth a Beaches’, is Goa’s most popular beach. A UNESCO World Heritage Site
and Jains form the rest (2001 visit. Some of the most popular resort. A lively nightlife, bars, and about 10 km from Panjim, the
census). Tourism is Goa’s lifeline beaches here are Anjuna, Agonda, restaurants, cafes, parasailing, ARCHITECTURE church is home to the mortal
and the bulwark of its economy. Arambol, Baga, Benaulim, water skiing, surfing, swimming Goan architecture is fabulous. The remains of St. Francis Xavier, the
Over 24 lakh tourists visited the Bogmalo, Calangute, Candolim, and parties make Calangute a ancient walls and curves of the co-founder of the Society of Jesus.
state in 2006 where 3.8 lakh of the Cavelossim, Colva, Dona Paula, great hangout. forts, mansions and churches tell The church is a classic example of
total tourists were from abroad. Majorda, Miramar, Palolem and stories of the centuries-old Baroque which originated in late
Konkani in the Devnagari script Vagator. Colva Beach Portuguese reign. The beauty of 16th-century Italy. The church was
is the sole official language of Goa Among the longest (24 km) and the Goan architecture lies in the consecrated in 1605. A three-storey
while Marathi is also widely used Anjuna Beach most popular beaches in the fusion of Indian, Portuguese and structure, the interior of the
for official purposes. The other Often known as ‘Goa’s Freak world, Colva is paradise. It is Islamic traditions. Goa was under church is quite simple and is of
languages spoken by Goans are Capital of the World’, it is nearly around 40 km from Panjim. Muslim rule during the 14th Mosaic-Corinthian style. The
English, Hindi and Portuguese. 18 km from Panjim, the capital of century under the Delhi Sultanate, gilded altars, the sparkling
Weather in Goa is pleasant but Goa. The beach boasts of the The Church of Our Lady of the Palolem Beach before the reign of Bahmani kings. marbled floor, the colourful
Immaculate Conception in Panjim.
is hot and humid during summer. amazing Albuquerque Mansion. It was the first church built by the Beach huts, beautiful sunsets, Goa’s government has been paintings and the spiritual
Goa looks exquisite when the first Built in 1920, it has octagonal Portuguese in 1541 happy hippies, and agile attempting an architectural ambience make for a unique
showers of the southwest monsoon towers and Mangalore-tiled roofs. (Top) The Archives Museum of the fishermen on the shores of renaissance by preserving and experience. What catches most
swamp the hot sands of Goa. Soon Other attractions are the Chapora Church of St. Francis of Assisi Palolem... it is a fabulous scene. reviving Portuguese architectural attention is the glowing silver
it is awash in green. Monsoon Fort — another tourist attraction The beach is nearly 70 km from traditions. casket which contains the holy
arrives here in early June and first built by the Adil Shah the capital city. remains of St. Francis Xavier.
lasts till September. Should you dynasty — and the Mascarenhas around 50 kms from Panjim.
choose to chase the monsoon, Goa Mansion. The latter has balconies Nearby, there is also a freshwater Vagator Beach CHURCHES
will offer you spectacular sport. and L-shaped seats which gives it lake fed by hot spring water. The Around 24 km from Panjim, it is Goa boasts some of India’s most Se Cathedral Church
an elegant touch. It is believed cliffs near the beaches make the one of Goa’s most beautiful gorgeous churches. Some of them Standing tall at 115 feet, its walls
that hippies discovered the Anjuna place a great adventurous spot beaches. From Vagator beach, are the Church of Mary painted in white, it’s Old Goa’s
BEACH PARADISE in 1950-1960s. The Saturday night making para-gliding possible. You you can behold the 500-year-old Immaculate Conception, Reis most sparkling adornment. It was
and Wednesday flea market here is can also enjoy dolphin sighting Portuguese Fort. Once you Magos Church, Se Cathedral, St. under Afonso de Albuquerque that
Think beaches, think Goa... another great experience. while having a fun boat trip. quench your thirst for the Anne Church, Church of St. Portugal conquered Goa in 1510.
Glittering sands, tall palms, the stunning beauty of the beach, you Augustine, St. Cajetan Church, Se Cathedral was built to
pleasant breeze, surfing, Arambol Beach Calangute Beach can indulge yourself in some Church of St. Francis and St. Paul commemorate the Portuguese
sunbathing, scuba diving — Goa’s Arambol, a secluded beach, is Nearly 16 km from the capital, tasty Goan fare, found in the Church. victory. Consecrated in 1640, it is

82 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 83
travel

Fort, Chapora Fort, Reis Magos


Fort, Cabo Raj Bhavan, Rachol
Fort, Mormugao Fort and Teracol RECIPE
Fort are masterpieces.
GOAN fish curry
Aguda Fort Ingredients
Built in 1612, Aguda is one of the 1 lemon size tamarind
biggest forts ever built by the 2 tblsp ginger paste
Portuguese to defend their 1 tblsp malt vinegar
territory against the Dutch and 2 pomfret fish
Marathas. The fort stands on the 1/2 cup coconut scraped
shores of the Mandovi river and 6 red chillies whole
houses a huge lighthouse. Aguda 2 tblsp oil
Fort gets its name because of the 2 green chillies
freshwater springs inside the 2 tblsp coriander seeds
ramparts. In Portuguese ‘Aguda’ 1 small tomato
means water. The forts offers a 2 tsp garlic paste
spectacular view of the 2 tsp cumin seeds
Arabian sea. salt to taste
1 small onion
Chapora Fort
The Chapora Fort nestles at the
southern cape of Chapora river.
Built during the reign of Adil
Shah, it was reconstructed by the
Portuguese after they conquered
Goa. It houses some Muslim
tombstones as well. The fort was
eventually deserted by the
Portuguese in 1892.
Cooking
Reis Magos Fort
First built in 1551, the fort nestles ● Clean, wash and cut each
on the banks of the Mandovi at fish into 5-6 pieces.
Reis Magos village, North Goa. ● Cut onions and tomatoes.
Originally built by the Adil Shah ● Slit green chillies and cut
dynasty, it was fortified by the into half.
Portuguese in 1760. At the base of ● Roast cumin seeds,
the fort is the gorgeous Reis coriander seeds and
Magos Church. The church is whole red chillies.
mainly known for hosting the ● Make a fine paste of all
famous ‘Festa dos Reis Magos’, the roasted spices along
popularly called the Feast of the with scraped coconut,
The Shanta Durga temple at Kavalem is dedicated to the Goddess Shantadurga, a form of Goddess Durga. The Shri Mangesh Temple Three Wise Men. It is held every ginger and garlic paste
present temple was built by Maratha ruler Chatrapati Shahu Raje of Satara in 1738 AD year on January 6. The church is and malt vinegar.
The 400-year-old temple is located dedicated to Saint Jerome. ● Heat up oil in a pan.
at Mangueshim village, nearly 22 ● Mix in cut onions and
one of the largest churches in Marchon claimed that he had a the beautiful fusion of Indian and km from Panjim. It is dedicated to Food extravaganza stir fry till golden brown.
Asia. Built in the Portuguese- vision of an old lady who wore a Western techniques. It was Lord Shiva. The mouth-watering Goan cuisine ● Mix in green chillies and
Gothic style of architecture, it hat and had a walking stick. The declared a “national monument” is irresistible. It is the perfect cut tomatoes.
houses a large bell called the old lady apparently told him that during the Portuguese reign. Shanta Durga Temple blend of Portuguese and native ● Stir fry on a medium
‘Golden Bell’. The church is the church was her abode. Built on the slopes of the foothills Goan. Seafood, rice and coconut heat up for 3 minutes.
dedicated to St. Catherine of Another bed-ridden Brahmin of Kavalem village, the Shanta milk are the main ingredients of ● Stir constantly.
Alexandria. lady, who was cured miraculously TEMPLES Durga Temple is dedicated to Goan food. You will find different ● Mix in the paste and
afterwards, also claimed to have Goa’s temples have also drawn Shantadurga, a form of Goddess varieties of seafood here — crabs, 1 1/2 cup of water.
St. Anne Church had a dream about the same old extensively on Portuguese Durga. The goddess is also known prawns, lobsters, squid, mussels ● Bring it to a boil and
Monsignor Francisco de Rego lady — whose name was architecture, though altered or as ‘Saibini’ in Konkani. The and fish like shark, tuna and then mix in fish pieces
laid the foundation of the church apparently ‘Anne’. Later on, the reconstructed after 1961. present temple was built by mackerel. Fish prepared in and salt.
in 1577 but it was his successor church was consecrated in Temples like Mangueshi Maratha ruler Chatrapati Shahu ‘Xacuti’ style with steamed rice is ● Stir fry on a low heat up
Rev. Fr. Antonio Francisco da honour of St. Anne. Since then, Temple, Mahalasa Temple, Raje of Satara in 1738 AD. a delightful treat. Xacuti is a Goan for about 5 minutes or
Cunha who finished building it every year on July 26, Goans Shanta Durga Temple and style of cooking meat/fish in till fish is just done.
in 1695. Legend has it that when celebrate the feast of St. Anne. Ananta Temple are among the FORTS coconut milk. Khatkhate (mixed ● Serve hot with
the construction was on, a The St. Anne Church is located at most frequently visited and Goa’s forts are exemplary vegetable stew and ambot tik) and steamed rice.
villager named Bartholomeu Santana, Talaulim, and showcases popular ones. architectural wonders. Aguda Sarapatel, a dish of Portuguese

84 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 85
TRAVEL

Joi de
vivre!
oa is incomplete without its music

G and dance. Traditional and western


fusion, every beat, every move is
fascinating. The repertoire is fascinating
and the music amazing...
Mando: Developed during the 19th and
20th centuries, this musical form draws
considerably on western styles. You would
also find lots of Portuguese words in the
lyrics.
Dulpod: A fusion of Indian and western
traditions, Dulpod is Goan folk, lively and
full of fun.
Suvari: It is one of the most popular folk
songs of Goa. Orchestra is key and
includes instruments like Ghumat,
Shamel, cymbals, shehnai and Surt.
Other than traditional music, Goa is also
known for its pop/western/fusion music.
Remo Fernandes is Goa’s most famous son

Rocking moves... in pop/rock/Indian fusion. His music is a


fusion of different cultures and styles. Goa
Amigos, a Goan-Canadian band based in
Toronto, has a big fan following here.
oa rocks when it comes to dance form devoted to Ganesha. The Goa Carnival is a Portuguese “Goa trance”, a form of electronic

G dancing. Among the famous


dance forms of Goa are Dhalo,
Dekhni, Fugdi, Shigmo, Kunbi and
Lamp Dance: It’s another great
dance popular among the Goans. It
calls for equipoise while balancing
legacy. A three-day extravaganza, the
carnival is held in February before
Easter Sunday, or Lent — the 40-day
music, was developed during the late
1980s and early 1990s. It’s a favourite
among hippies.
Lamp dance. heavy brass lamps and at once long period which begins on Ash
Dhalo: A popular dance form, keeping in sync with the dance Wednesday and concludes on Holy
where women and young girls moves. Saturday.
perform their moves joyfully in a The carnival begins with the
semi-circle.
Dekhni: During the Portuguese
Goa Carnival
Come February, it’s carnival time in
“appointment” of ‘King Momo’ who
leads the parades with his queen and
decorated, and the X’mas trees
sparkle with stars and bells.
Dudhsagar HOW TO REACH
era, lots of Hindus converted to Goa. Music and dance, laughter and companions. On the opening day Colourful crowds, fireworks, The silvery water cascading from By Air
Christianity. And Dekhni is like a fun, vibrant crowds and colourful of the event, the ‘king’ calls on his parties on the beaches... it’s a height of nearly 2,000 ft, the lush Nearly 29 km from Panjim, Dabolim
bridge between the two different parades and floats — it’s pure fun in people to have fun and party. amazing. green forest acquiring a bluish Airport is well connected to all the major
cultures and religions. A typically abundance. Colourful bands, parades, floats, Feast of Three Kings: A Goan hue under the sky — it’s a fairy Indian Metros and international
western dance, it gracefully blends Known the world over, the carnival dance and music are the highlights festival celebrated during the world. Located 60 km from destinations in Europe and the Middle East.
with Indian styles. is the true synthesis and symbol of of the carnival and people party hard month of January, it is important Margoa (South Goa), it is one of
Fugdi: This is a traditional Goan the diverse cultures and spirit of Goa. till late night. to both Hindus and Christians. the top 100 highest waterfalls By Rail
During the festival, they offer in the world. You can choose the Konkan Railway
prayers to the Lady of the Mount. which connects Margao and Vasco da
Shigmo, the Goanese version of Arvalam Gama to major Indian cities like
Holi, is celebrated in the month of Nestling at a height of 70 ft, the Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and
February and March. The “Yatra” Arvalam Falls is one of the most Thiruvananthapuram.
origin, are most popular here. But amazing drink, it comes in two are Goa’s main festivals while the of Shree Lairai Temple in Sirigao scenic locations in Goa. Situated
one enduring superstar is Pork exciting flavours — coconut and New Year is very special to Goa. features Dhond devotees walking at Arvalam, North Goa, it is also
By Road
Roads in Goa are well maintained. You
Vindaloo — veritably synonymous cashew feni. Some say Goa is feni Other festivals are the Goa through the homakund or fire. home to a beautiful lake.
can use NH-4A, NH-17 and NH-17A to
with Goan food. Etymologically and feni Goa! Heritage Festival, the Sea Food The streets of Goa are coloured
Kesarval Springs travel across and beyond Goa. Taxis and
rooted in Portuguese, ‘vin’ stands Festival and Hindu festivals like with gulal and neel.
buses are available.
for vinegar and ‘ahlo’ for garlic in FAIRS AND FESTIVALS the Holi (Shimgo), Chovoth Natural spring water shooting
Portuguese. Goan food would be (Ganesh Chaturthi) and Diwali. WATER FALLS out from hard rocks is a visual By Sea
incomplete sans ‘feni’ — the very Fairs and festivals are integral to Christmas: Goa is at its Goa’s waterfalls should’t be missed delight. It’s beautiful and its water For a visit to Goa, you can hit the high
popular Goan double or even Goan life. The Feast of Three prettiest during Christmas. Goa’s either. Among them are Dudsagar, has medicinal values as well. It is seas as well. Opt for cruises operating
treble distilled beverage. An Kings, Christmas and Bonderam churches are beautifully Kesarval Springs and Arvalam. at around 22 km from Panjim. between Mumbai and Panjim.

86 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 87
books

A MATTER Nine Lives’ is more about my


journeys to the heart of
India and talking to people

of fact
Spirituality, politics, business and Amartya Sen who
who practise faiths outside
the purview of mainstream
religions. Almost the entire
book was based on
motivation... the year 2009 turned released “The Idea of
interviews with upholders
Justice” — one of the
out to be an impressive year for largest grossers this of such faiths
non-fiction books. It was the time year — said his book

when Indian non-fiction came of age,


on the “ideal system — William Dalrymple
of justice” was meant
says Madhusree Chatterjee for the “thinking young”.
“Non-fictions have to appeal to youngsters,” said yoga and spiritual non-fiction books,” Ajay Mago,
the Nobel laureate who illustrated complex theories publisher of Om Books, said.
of social justice and democracy with “simple exam- An estimate by the Gita Press, the Uttar Pradesh-
ples involving children”. He also drew from Indian based oldest publisher of religious texts and spiritu-
religions to establish his arguments and make them al non-fiction books in India, says it has sold Rs.3.2
The demand for spiritual relevant to common readers. Lord Desai’s book, “The
Rediscovery of India”, launched last month, is a look
crore of spiritual books in the country.”
Almost every leading Indian publisher of non-fic-
books is unbelievable. There at how India has been able to stay together as a nation tion books like Pearson-Education, Wisdom Tree,
over the last 60 years despite the disparate forces at Penguin Books-India, Roli, Rupa & Co, HarperCollins-
has been too much of crime and work and its cultural diversity. India, Longman, Macmillan Publishers, and Oxford
Desai culled from the pioneering encounters released five big-ticket books each on an average in
fiction. The year 2009 has seen between the East and the West in the 15th century and 2009.
a sharp rise in spiritual, spotlighted the country’s colonial past, emergence of
new classes and “its road to independence”.
“The demand for non-fiction books is picking up
gradually in India like in the West,” says P.M. Suku-
self-help, yoga and spiritual “I plan to write another book on Bollywood. Non-
fictions are fun to write,” the eminent economist said.
mar, the CEO of HarperCollins-India.
The country also saw more than a dozen business
non-fiction books Dalrymple travelled into the heart of Indian pagan and motivation books in 2009, mostly based on the
mysticism with his book, “Nine Lives”. It stayed on real life experiences of Indian CEOs and business
— Ajay Mago, Publisher, Om Books the top 10 non-fiction list since it was released in honchos in the country and abroad.
October. “Business books these days are inspirational. Job
history, “Jinnah: India, Partition and Independence”. He believes “every non-fiction book is a work of and salary must not be the sole motivations for
As is well known, it cost the minister his party research and serves as a document. today’s young professionals. The Indian youth must
membership. “But ‘Nine Lives’ is more about my journeys to the set higher goals at work,” Bangalore-based writer of
Critic, writer and political and social commentator heart of India and talking to people who practise business and motivation books Subroto Bagchi, who
Gurcharan Das did an unconventional “reinterpreta- faiths outside the purview of mainstream religions. released his book “The Professional” in 2009, said.
tion” of “The Mahabharata” in his book, “The Diffi- Almost the entire book was based on interviews with
culty of Being Good: The Subtle Art of Dharma”. upholders of such faiths, many of which believe in
“Every generation has to go back to ‘The Mahab- blood sacrifice than the worship of Ram,” Dalrymple
harata’ to find new meanings. The corruption in gov- said.
ernment and in daily life drove me to the epic to find Religion, spirituality and history were the biggest
solutions and establish that it is difficult to be good. draws in the non-fiction category in 2009.
Every character in the epic is caught in the conflict Wendy Doniger, a scholar researching Indian reli-
between ‘dharma’ and ‘adharma’,” Das said. gion in the University of Chicago, came up with “The
ndian non-fiction came into its own in 2009, feel Writer, thinker and commentator Ramachandra Hindus: An Alternative History”. She writes about

I writers and publishers. The literary glitterati


filled up the shelves with works on spirituality,
politics, business and motivation. Western
writers — barring “desi sahib” William Dalrymple —
paled into relative obscurity when compared to the
Guha feels non-fiction needs more encouragement.
“Young authors must be encouraged to write non-fic-
tion and there should more non-fiction books,” Guha
said.
The writer who struck a Rs.97 lakh-deal with Pen-
the non-Sanskritic popular Hindu faith that has flour-
ished in India over the centuries, away from the
philosophies of the Vedas and Upanishads.
She looks at the popular goddesses that evolved in
India like the Santoshi Mata of the 1980s in Bollywood
likes of Amartya Sen, Meghnad Desai and Gurcharan guin Books India in March for seven books, includ- who fulfilled the “materialist aspirations” of the mid-
Das who studded the calendar with new releases. The ing a two-volume autobiography on Mahatma Gand- dle class.
book that made the maximum impact by way of hi, spread across 2010 and 2015, said: “The deal was “The demand for spiritual books is unbelievable.
controversy and hype was MP and veteran politician an acknowledgement of the imbalance that existed There has been too much of crime and fiction. The
Jaswant Singh’s critical chronicle of a slice of colonial between fictions and non-fictions”. year 2009 has seen a sharp rise in spiritual, self-help,

88 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 89
books

CAUGHT BETWEEN NEW A TALE OF TRAINS, CHAI


WORLD & OLD WORLD! AND SMALL TOWNS
Novelist Radhika Jha travels into the heart of rural India exploring Bishwanath Ghosh explores the rainbow-like diverse culture of India
life of villagers and their social norms and beliefs which sometimes as his train stops at seven towns of the country...
tend to threaten developement in the society he little-known towns in the had stopped at Itarsi station, which

J
ournalist-cum-social worker-
turned novelist Radhika Jha,
winner of the French Prix
Guerlain award, has
Laxmi, the daughter of a poor
farmer, things go haywire. Laxmi’s
father’s suicide becomes a bone of
contention and shame.
development,” Jha said. According
to Jha: “Science can tell you how to
do something — but it cannot tell
you what to do.”
T heart of India that teem with
life outside the big railway
junctions have stories of
their own over steaming cups of
‘chai’ — the Indian milk tea.
is a big junction. I was having tea at
the platform and in the 10 minutes
that I spent at the station, I heard the
names of almost all the train stations
being mentioned,’’ Ghosh said.
journeyed into the heart of rural The catalyst for change is Manoj “Politics decides the goals and Journalist turned writer “It suddenly struck me that so
India — scripting a story of change Mishra, a failed Ph.D. in history, that’s why all humans are political Bishwanath Ghosh in his new many cultures criss-cross the nation
— in her new novel “Lanterns on who adds to the chaos when he animals — especially in rural India travelogue, ‘Chai Chai: Travels in and yet I know nothing about Itarsi
Their Horns”. realises that he has found the where the stakes are life and death,” Places Where You Stop, But Never except that it is a railway junction,”
The book, published by solution to poverty in rural India — she said. Get Off’, feels that life takes on he added.
HarperCollins-India, hinges on the with artificial insemination of cows. Jha feels “Lanterns On Their unique colours in the run-down hotel Subsequently, publishers Tranqu-
“misconceptions and stigmas The four characters — Mundkur, Horns” is “both anti-and pro- rooms, squalid bars, the chock-a- ebar Press approached Ghosh to
surrounding artificial insemination Laxmi, Ramu and Mishra — are development”. block lanes in small towns where write a travel book.
of cows in Indian villages and a thrown together in a confrontation “While Laxmi was pro- human beings fight for space with “They wanted something
clash of old world and new world of their beliefs and ideals which development, the village headman bazaars, residential quarters, smoke- different. So, I chose seven junctions
ethics over a suicide”. belching two-wheelers and three- that people invariably pass through
“My book has been inspired by wheelers, culture, dark secrets and during train journeys where they
an image — a man on an Enfield
motorcycle driving down a dusty
My book has been cuisines.
Connecting this diverse and
never get off. I made these junctions
my destinations and that’s how the
un-metalled road with ice cold milk
cans filled with frozen semen,” the
inspired by an rainbow India is the great Indian
Railways that snakes along the
book came about. I started with
Mughalsarai and reached Shoranur,” context,’’ he quipped. The town
Tokyo-based novelist, who is in the image — a man on an country stopping at the dots on the Ghosh said. which comes across as the most
capital to launch her book, said. map. The book draws inspiration from colourful in the book is Mughalsarai,
Jha, who has studied in Paris and Enfield motorcycle ‘Chai Chai’, which documents life ‘chai’, the milky tea served on says Ghosh. “It was alive, full of
at the University of Chicago in the in seven Indian railway towns across railway platforms, and details colours and interesting people. You
U.S., has worked at Business World driving down a dusty the country, was officially released strange encounters like “drinking get the best tea in Mughalsarai. As
and at The Hindustan Times as a in the capital on December 20, from tumblers in small-town bars, one moves down south, the town gets
journalist as well as the Rajiv un-metalled road with though it had hit the stands in the smell of idli in Guntakal station sober.’’
Gandhi Foundation. She has written
several books, including “Smell”,
ice cold milk cans October.
The seven towns where the writer
in southern India early in the
morning and a chance meeting with
The writer is inspired by English
playwright and novelist Somerset
which was her award-winning debut
novel followed by “India”, “New
filled with frozen decides to get off the train to explore
the tapestries of cultures include
a housewife-turned-prostitute in
Itarsi”.
Maugham. ‘’Somerset Maugham is
one of my favourite writers. He is not
Delhi, New Wave”, “L’Odeur” and a semen... Mughalsarai, Jhansi, Itarsi, The writer said he has used strictly a travel writer, but it is
collection of short stories, “The Guntakal, Arakkonam, Jolarpettai “personal history and anecdotes impossible not to appreciate the
Elephant and The Maruti”. and Shoranur. from his own life, especially travel stories in his works. Then
“I never set out to a write a novel may result in life or death. “The was against it — but neither is a “I decided to write the book nearly childhood, to put the places in there is Paul Theroux. His book, ‘The
about a village in India, just as I image of a man carrying frozen hero. Both are humans two years ago. I was travelling from context.’’ Great Indian Railway Bazaar’ is a
never set out to write a novel about semen was put into my head by a characterised by their inability to Kanpur to Chennai, returning from ‘’Most places would be must read for every travel writer,”
Paris. It just happened,” she said, friend who works with an NGO see the future,” Jha said. my annual Diwali holiday. The train meaningless unless they are seen in Ghosh said.
explaining the making of her book. involved in artificial insemination. Jha’s years as a journalist and The author feels that “there is
The plot of the novel is woven That fact that it was real, fascinated her time at the Rajiv Gandhi space for travel writing about India
around an Indian village Nandgaon. me,” she said. Foundation helped her write, giving being done by Indians”.
Headman Gopal Mundkur is Jha said she visited several her “more insight and clarity into I chose seven junctions that “So far, whatever we know of
resisting change. He suspects that villages around Maheshwar and India”, she said. And the reason India is mostly told to us by
science — artificial insemination of Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh while why she writes is because of the people invariably pass foreigners, mainly correspondents of
the cows and the march of modern researching her book. “But “magic of reading”. western papers stationed in New
technology — will destroy the Nandgaon is fiction because there is “Reading opens doors to places through during train journeys where Delhi, who come out with an India
fragile harmony that binds
Nandgaon and its people together.
no village I know that has turned its
back on modern science. Most
which no one knew had existed
before. I love Graham Greene,
they never get off. I made these book. It’s time Indians started
looking into their own backyard —
But when Ramu, the village
simpleton marries college educated
villages are aware that they are
second wives in the process of
Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Amitav
Ghosh,” Jha said.
junctions my destinations... there is a lot to be discovered,”
Ghosh said.

90 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 91
books

BEYOND LOVE AND NEW PAMUK, DESAI THE TOP BESTSELLING


AUTHORS

NOVELLA
Meghnad Desai’s “The Rediscovery of India” continued

EMOTIONS to dominate the non-fiction section of the bestseller list


while “The Museum of Innocence” by Nobel prize
winner Orhan Pamuk retained the No.1 position in the
Young writers sow a seed of change in the
Indian style of writting with books on SERIES HITS fiction category.

TOP 10 IN EACH CATEGORY ARE:


thrillers, crime and taboo rule the
fiction list, says Madhusree Chatterjee INDIAN NON-FICTION

BAZAAR “The Rediscovery of India”


Author: Meghnad Desai
Publisher: Penguin Allen Lane
Price: Rs.699.00
aking a cue from

T the continuing
demand for
short novels like
John Steinbeck’s “Of
Mice and Men” and
“Nine Lives: In Search of the
Sacred in Modern India”
Author: William Dalrymple
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Price: Rs.499.00
Franz Kafka’s “Making Sense of Pakistan”
“Metamorphosis” more Author: Farzana Shaikh
than five decades after Publisher: Foundation Books
their publication, the Price: Rs.695.00
Tranquebar Press has
launched a new short “The Hindus:
(Clockwise) Chetan Bhagat, Ali Sethi, Aravind Adiga, and Vikas Swarup. An Alternative History”
fiction - novella - series.
Author: Wendy Doniger
The series was
Publisher: Penguin Viking
hivalrous love and family there were more youthful faces than ature,” supernatural and horror launched on December 21

C
Price: Rs.999.00
soaps spanning generations the wizened grey ones like Amitav story writer Ravi Shankar Etteth with a cache of four novellas — the “Nalanda
took a backseat as thrillers, Ghosh, Salman Rushdie and Arvind said. Chronicles” by Kalpish Ratna, “Happy Associate” by “The Difficulty of Being Good:
crime, alternative sexuali- Adiga — and their brethren — at the Diplomat-cum-writer-turned min- Urja, “Peacock in the Chicken Run” by Dawood Ali On The Subtle art of Dharma”
ties and occult mysteries took their gala launches across the country. ister Shashi Tharoor feels that “one McCallum and “The Beast” by Syed Muhammed Author: Gurcharan Das
place under the sun and bookshelves Fiction, says writer and winner of of the reasons why readers like Ashraf. Publisher: Penguin Allen Lane
with fiction novels finding a younger the Crossword-Vodafone award Neel Chetan Bhagat — the most popular “The Nalanda Chronicles” by Kalpish Ratna is a Price: Rs.699.00
voice in 2009. Mukherjee, “has managed to come author of the year and perhaps the darkly comic look at how life scatters during an FICTION
While the smartly packaged tomes out closet experimenting with bold- decade — is because he has been able urban terror assault while “Happy Associate” is a
in paperbacks and hardcovers er contents.” to make English a mass language pulp fiction about a girl’s quest for identity and self- “The Museum of Innocence”
became more reader friendly in “I would like to believe that writ- taking it to the widest cross-section respect. “Peacock in the Chicken Run” is a document Author: Orhan Pamuk
terms of prose and formats; content ing freely about alternative sexuali- of readers even in smaller towns and of the diverse shades of life seen at London’s Publisher: Faber and Faber
charted a rather esoteric path, away ty is becoming a trend in India. The cities across the country”. Heathrow airport. “The Beast” by Syed Mohammed Price: Rs.599.00
from cliches. Ashraf is a fictional fable of the troubled times woven
“The Girl Who Kicked
The fiction publishing industry around a murder mystery.
The Hornet’s Nest”
despite a slowdown managed to stay I would like to believe that writing “A lot of authors like to write short fiction, but Author: Stieg Larsson
afloat because of competitive pricing, cannot place them because of this impression that Publisher: Maclehose Press
special Indian tariffs and India-spe- freely about alternative sexuality is short stories and novellas do not sell. We wanted to Price: Rs.495.00
cific editions. encourage the genres and writers,” Tranquebar Press
Literary watchers feel that con- becoming a trend in India. The English senior commissioning editor Deepthi Talwar said. “True Blue”
Author: David Baldacci
temporary Indian writing in English
came of age with Penguin Books
educated urban centres are seeing “The Beast has been translated from Urdu by a
Pakistani, based in Canada, and Dawood Ali
Publisher: Macmillan
Price: 5.99 pounds (Rs.460)
India launching a young South Asian
author from Pakistan, Ali Sethi, as
liberalism — Neel Mukherjee, author McCallum (“Peacock in the Chicken Run”) is
British,” Talwar said. “Empire of The Moghul:
the torchbearer of its prestigious The series will have four titles a year. The word Raiders from the North”
Hamish Hamilton imprint, and English educated urban centres are The year 2009 saw several new count will vary between 20,000 and 40,000 words. Author: Alex Rutherford
“Slumdog Millionaire” — the cellu- seeing liberalism. It’s a good thing,” graphic novels exploring diverse The books are priced at Rs.150. Publisher: Headline Review
loid version of career diplomat Vikas Mukherjee, the author of “Past Con- themes. Talwar said there was an impression that short Price: Rs.495.00
Swarup’s novel “Q&A” — going on to tinuous”, said. Overall, it was a mixed bag for fictions do not find takers. “But some of our
“The Original of Laura”
become India’s pride at the 2009 “Indians are just beginning to Indian fiction, as it broke away from collections of short fictions like Mridula Koshy’s ‘If Author: Vladimir Nabokov
Oscar awards in the U.S. enjoy crime fiction. I don’t know why cliches and ended the year with what It is Sweet’ and Aseem Kaul’s ‘Etudes’ did well. We Publisher: Penguin Books
The tribe of fiction writers in 2009 people in the country say crime the industry might describe — a sur- cannot generalise that short fictions do not sell. What Price: Rs.699.00
cut their literary teeth young and thrillers are inferior. It is also liter- prising but a happy ending. keeps the reader hooked is a good story well told.

92 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010 93
diaspora newsmaker

ARTICLE
OF FAITH
ndia-born Eboo Patel, a

I member of President Barack


Obama’s faith advisory
council, has become the first
Muslim to win the prestigious
Grawemeyer Award in Religion
Making investment in India easier for overseas Indians.
from the Louisville Presbyterian
Theological Seminary and the
University of Louisville.
Patel, 34, a member of the White
House’s Advisory Council on Faith-
Based and Neighbourhood
Partnerships and the Religious
Advisory Committee of the Council
on Foreign Relations is founder of a Eboo Patel
group focused on the global
interfaith youth movement.
His interfaith organisation, launched in 1998 and based in Chicago, is now active at about 75 college campuses,
according to beliefnet, a religious website.
“This is an idea award, but what makes him stand out is that he also has an organisation and a whole structure
to back it up,” said Louisville Seminary professor Susan Garrett, who oversees the $200,000 prize.
Out of nearly 70 international nominees, Patel won the prize for his 2007 autobiography, titled ‘Acts of Faith:
The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation’.
In his book, Patel argues for exposure to pluralism to help keep young people influenced by religious radicals
from committing devastating acts of terrorism.

Rajiv Shah to head USAID Sanjeev John

he United States Senate has development a key tool of its foreign

T approved the nomination of


Rajiv Shah to head the U.S.
Agency for International
policy. Shah “brings fresh ideas and
the dedication and impressive
background necessary to help guide
Development (USAID), making him USAID as it works to achieve this
the highest ranking Indian American important goal,” said Obama in a For details contact:
in the Obama administration. statement announcing his nomination
The Senate confirmed the in November. Shefali Chaturvedi
nomination of Shah, 36, The mission of USAID is to advance Chief Executive Officer — OIFC &
unanimously and some three
dozens other officials
America’s interests by strengthening
our relationships abroad,” he said of
Faster & cooler! Director, CII
nominated by President the agency, which has more than ndian-origin researcher Sanjeev 249-F, Sector 18, Udyog Vihar, Phase IV
Barack Obama before taking
its Christmas break.
6,800 people working in some 80
countries worldwide.
I John and his colleague Xun Ma of
the University of Toronto have
Gurgaon - 122 015, Haryana, INDIA
Tel: +91-124-4014060-67 / 4014071
Shah’s job puts him at the USAID, formally part of the State discovered new behaviour of light
helm of the aid agency Department, manages the bulk of which could lead to cooler and Fax: +91-124-4014070
charged with spurring U.S. international aid with a budget faster computing. Website: www.oifc.in
development around the of some 53.9 billion dollars for 2010, The two quantum optics
world. USAID is expected up 9 percent over 2009. researchers have discovered “new
to play a key role as Shah, a medical doctor, currently behaviours” of light changes with-
the Obama serves as chief scientist for the U.S. in photonic crystals that could lead
administration Department of Agriculture and has to faster optical information
has made worked as director for agricultural processing and compact comput-
development at the foundation ers that don't overheat.
headed by Microsoft founder and The study has been published in
philanthropist Bill Gates and his wife. Physical Review Letters.
lR;eso t;rs
Ministry of Overseas Confederation of
94 Pravasi Bharatiya December 2009—January 2010
Indian Affairs Indian Industry
CONNECTING INDIA WITH ITS DIASPORA

Vol 3 Issue 1 Dec 2009-Jan 2010

PRAVASI BHARATIYA

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Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs


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