Delhi to Become World’s Most Populous City in 10 Years: UN Report

first_imgIn 32 years, India will be among the countries with highest growth in world’s urban population, according to the United Nations. India, China and Nigeria will account for 35 per cent of the projected growth of the world’s urban population between 2018 and 2050.By 2050, it is projected that India will have added 416 million people to its urban population, while the corresponding figures for China and Nigeria are 255 million and 189 million, respectively, according to Reuters. Currently, 54 per cent of the world’s urban population lives in Asia despite its relatively lower level of urbanization, followed by Europe and Africa with 13 per cent each, according to the 2018 Revision of World Urbanization Prospects produced by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA).Currently, India has the largest rural population (893 million), followed by China (578 million). While 90 per cent of the world’s rural population in 2018 lives in Asia and Africa, the current 3.4 billion global rural population is expected to rise slightly in a few years and then decline to 3.1 billion by 2050.Two of India’s cities are among the world’s largest. While Tokyo is the world’s largest city, with an agglomeration of 37 million inhabitants, New Delhi comes next with 29 million people, followed by Shanghai (26 million), and Mexico City and São Paulo (each with around 22 million inhabitants).“Today, Cairo, Mumbai, Beijing and Dhaka all have close to 20 million inhabitants. By 2020, Tokyo’s population is projected to begin to decline, while Delhi is projected to continue growing and to become the most populous city in the world around 2028,” the report said.“When urban growth is rapid, ensuring access to housing, water, sanitation, electricity, public transport, education and health care for all is especially challenging,” John Wilmoth, director of the Population Division, said at a UN news conference, according to Reuters. “Managing urban growth to insure that it is sustainable has become one of the most important development challenges of the current century,” he added.Around 2028, India’s population will be greater than China’s. And by 2050, 68 per cent of the world population will live in urban areas, increasing from 55 per cent currently.North America currently has the most urbanized regions (with 82 per cent of its population living in urban areas in 2018), while the corresponding figure for Latin America and the Caribbean is 81 per cent, followed by Europe (74 per cent) and Oceania (68 per cent). The level of urbanization in Asia is now approximating 50 per cent. In contrast, Africa remains mostly rural, with 43 per cent of its population living in urban areas. Related ItemsdevelopmentEconomyUnited Nationslast_img read more

Treading Two Worlds

first_imgThe literary world is abuzz over Kiran Desai, 35, bagging the prestigious Man Booker prize for her second novel, The Inheritance of Loss, becoming the youngest woman to ever do so. Her mother, the acclaimed author Anita Desai, had been nominated thrice for the Booker, so her daughter’s victory must have been particularly sweet. “This book was written almost entirely in her company, along with of course, you know, her writing wisdom and growing up in a house full of her books and learning how to live the writing life alongside her,” said Kiran Desai in a radio interview. “But in terms of what the book was about, I think she’s the only person who could really understand what I was trying to do. I really couldn’t have written it without her.”While her mother’s novels have been largely rooted in India, in this novel Kiran Desai shifts between two continents, reflecting her own life in two places. She was born in Chandigarh and grew up in Bombay, Delhi and Poona, and left for the UK and then the United States when she was 14. She grew up in Boston, Mass., before attending Bennington College and Columbia University, where she studied creative writingAsked where home was, she laughed: “It’s funny. I catch myself using the word home for different places, so I know it’s not one place anymore. It’s so many different places. I have a life in many different cities now, and two different countries.”She added, “That’s the wonderful thing about these days. The world is growing smaller. I see the value of both places and at other times I do feel torn as if I’m missing something, I’m missing knowing one culture deeply and profoundly because this does mean you are an outsider to some degree in both places, I think. You are leaving, and you’re constantly on the plane, so your perspective does change.”  While her first novel was set entirely in India, at that time Desai had told this reporter: “I do think though we shouldn’t be afraid of writing about America, it is also a part of our life and I do feel it’s new territory.  I do hope I write an American book at some time. It is important because it’s our experience and I’m eager to do that. because I do feel I want to examine my idea of America as well as my idea of India.”Indeed, in this novel Desai moves with ease between two countries, catching the entangled lives of Sai, the judge, the cook, an assortment of colonial leftovers and insurgents on the boil in the foothills of the Himalayas, and that of Biju, the cook’s son, who is an illegal immigrant in New York City, living in rat-infested holes in the wall and merging into the rhythms of this city of immigrants. Both worlds are imaginary, yet very real.  Related Itemslast_img read more

Barren Hope

first_imgHere’s your chance to weigh in on the setting for the world’s most famous diamond.The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History is inviting viewers to vote on three possible settings for the fabled Hope Diamond to commemorate the diamond’s 50 year anniversary at the Smithsonian (smithsonianchannel.com/hope)The mysterious 45.52 carat diamond blue gem, which was donated to the Smithsonian 50 years ago by New York jeweler Harry Winston is currently on display as a stand alone gem. Once the new setting is selected, the diamond will be displayed in the new design from May.The diamond was mined in India and was a part of the French crown jewels until it was looted after the French revolution. It has long been associated with a curse, which is more the stuff of legend than fact. The curse stems from the fact that French King Louis XVI and his wife, the infamous Marie Antoinette, were executed and another owner, the Washington socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean, who acquired the gem in 1912, suffered several personal tragedies, including the loss of two children. Related Itemslast_img read more

Cluster of Harassment Claims in Bollywood and Elsewhere Startles India

first_imgAfter a year of fits and starts, India’s #MeToo movement has leapt forward over the past week, getting concrete action in two of the country’s most powerful industries: entertainment and the news media.Phantom Films, a major Bollywood production house that made “Sacred Games” for Netflix, was suddenly dissolved Saturday, with two of four partners publicly apologizing for mishandling an employee’s complaint that she was sexually assaulted in 2015 by a third partner, Vikas Bahl.One of the country’s premier comedy troupes, All India Bakchod, edged to the brink of collapse with accusations by a comedian, Mahima Kukreja, that a former member of the group had sent her lewd messages and a picture of his genitals. After other women chimed in, the accused comic, Utsav Chakraborty, apologized, and the company’s co-founders were forced to step away.Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta filed a new complaint with the police, reviving her 10-year-old case against a prominent actor, Nana Patekar, for allegedly ordering changes to a movie dance sequence so he could grope her.Inspired by Dutta and Kukreja, as well as by the Senate testimony of Christine Blasey Ford in the United States, dozens of women in journalism began coming forward Friday, describing a range of inappropriate behavior by male reporters and editors at some of India’s biggest news organizations.“It almost felt like the women were waiting,” Kukreja said in an interview. “’Am I allowed to share my trauma? Am I allowed to share my story?’”By Monday afternoon, the influential political editor of The Hindustan Times, Prashant Jha, had been stripped of his management role as the company investigated a former reporter’s complaint that he had sexually harassed her. On the same day, seven women sent a letter to The Times of India, the flagship paper of the country’s most powerful media company, accusing a top editor of years of unwanted touching, explicit messages and sexual propositions. The editor, K.R. Sreenivas, was put on leave amid promises of “a speedy and fair inquiry.”Other journalists are under investigation by their employers or have apologized for inappropriate behavior, and #MeToo accusations have begun spreading to other industries, including advertising and politics. At least four women have accused a government minister for external affairs, former newspaper editor M.J. Akbar, of sexually harassing them when he was a journalist. Akbar was traveling overseas on Tuesday and has not made any comment about the allegations.On Monday, Bollywood writer and producer Vinta Nanda posted a searing account on Facebook accusing a prominent actor, whom she later identified as Alok Nath, of raping her in her home in the 1990s. Nath — best known for playing father figures, much as Bill Cosby did in the United States — told the Indian news channel ABP on Tuesday, “It must have happened, but someone else would have done it.” He did not want to discuss it further.The flurry of activity has created a commotion among the educated elite here, but it has had little immediate effect on the vast majority of women in India, a deeply patriarchal and traditional society in which women and girls often have little control over their lives and are frequently abused.Over the weekend, for example, more than 30 girls at a rural school in northern India were beaten up by local boys and some of their parents after trying to stop months of harassment and lewd graffiti. Taking note of the attack during a hearing Monday on an unrelated abuse case, a Supreme Court justice asked: “A girl is not supposed to protect herself? If somebody tries to molest them, they must agree?”The #MeToo movement’s impact in India has also been comparatively modest. In the United States, for instance, complaints about sexual harassment and assault have led to a prison sentence for Cosby, criminal charges against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and changes in both laws and corporate practices. The movement has also exposed deep social divisions, as evidenced by the battle over the Supreme Court nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh, whom Blasey accused of sexual assault when they were teenagers.Women’s rights advocates said that for India, the events of the past week had been stunning, with the movement in the country gathering momentum.“It’s almost like a wave has come,” said Vrinda Grover, a New Delhi lawyer and human rights activist who helped draft some of India’s laws on sexual harassment and child abuse. “Until now, we have seen consequences only on the women who complained. This time, the consequences are for those who have committed the misconduct.”Sandhya Menon, a freelance writer who tweeted the first public complaints about Sreenivas and two other journalists Friday, said her goal had been to improve men’s behavior and push employers to hold harassers accountable.“I didn’t expect this level of action,” Menon said in an interview. (Sreenivas declined to comment beyond saying that he was cooperating with the newspaper’s investigation.)After Menon accused Gautam Adhikari, the former editor-in-chief of The Times of India, of unwanted kissing while she was working for him at another newspaper, a former Times of India reporter spoke up with a similar account.“This behavior has to be shamed,” the former reporter, Sonora Jha, now a professor of communication at Seattle University, said in an interview.Adhikari, who is retired and lives in the Washington area, said in an email that he did not recall the incidents described. “I would sincerely apologize if I made anyone uncomfortable in my presence, but I deny sexually harassing anyone,” he wrote. Nevertheless, citing the “stain on his reputation,” he resigned as a fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, and said he would stop writing his column for The Times of India.The public allegations against Weinstein a year ago helped #MeToo quickly become a powerful movement in the United States, but an Indian equivalent has struggled to get a foothold. Despite several attempts, including the publication of a list of academics accused of harassment, the effort failed to gain much traction.Kukreja, the comedian, said that it had been cathartic to see so many women speak out now, but that it was also difficult to hear so many stories of men behaving badly. “I had four days straight of panic attacks,” she said, adding that she had found peace by performing a stand-up comedy set for 15 minutes each night.Speaking out has had its risks. The backlash on Twitter has been intense, with some commenters demanding evidence or suggesting that the women had encouraged the come-ons.Some of the women who shared their stories said that they had gone to their bosses or human resources departments, but that no action had been taken. India’s court system is so glacial that a rape case against one prominent editor, Tarun Tejpal, is still pending five years after it was filed.And people accused of misconduct have often been quick to fight back in the courts. Rajendra Pachauri, who stepped down as head of the United Nations’ panel on climate change after sexual harassment charges by a female employee, filed a defamation suit against Grover, the rights advocate, for releasing statements from two other accusers who said they were willing to testify against him.The case of Dutta, the Bollywood actress, shows just how arduous it can be to pursue a sexual harassment claim.She first made the allegations against Patekar while they were working on a film in 2008. Dutta said Patekar pushed to change a dance routine to make it more physically intimate.She fled the set, and a mob surrounded her car, smashed the windshield and trapped her inside.She filed a police complaint against Patekar, who denied the allegations. And she spoke openly to the Indian news media, which covered the story extensively for several days. Then everyone moved on.But last week, Dutta found new allies in India, where the film industry has mostly steered clear of reckoning with predatory behavior in its own ranks. A witness came forward to corroborate her account, and Indian celebrities locked their arms around Dutta, using #BelieveSurvivors in Twitter posts. Even politicians weighed in.“Harassment of any kind will not be tolerated,” Maneka Gandhi, a top official working on women’s issues, told reporters. “We should start something called #MeToo India.”In a recent interview with Times Now, an Indian news channel, Patekar said nothing untoward had happened on the film set and added, “I don’t hide anything or lie.”Dutta, 34, a former Miss India who now lives in the United States, urged caution about characterizing this moment as anything like the conversation that has occurred in Hollywood.Still, India is evolving, she said. “Maybe the evolution is slower compared to the West, but evolution is inevitable. It is happening in the remotest, darkest corners of our planet.”c.2018 New York Times News Service Related Itemslast_img read more

Kevin Durant Apologises for Comments on India

first_imgKevin Durant has apologized for the disparaging comments against India that he made in a recent interview. The American basketball player posted messages on social media on August 11, saying he is “sorry that my comments about India were taken out of context”.The 28-year-old NBA champion Golden State Warriors member was in India last month as part of his efforts to promote basketball around the world. He tweeted that his comments about the poor conditions in the country were “taken out of context”. He added that he should have “worded it better”.Durant’s ApologyHis posted on Twitter: “Sorry that my comments about India were taken out of context, I’m grateful for the time I’ve got to spend there and I’m really pissed about how my comments came off, that’s my fault, should’ve worded that better. I spoke about the difference between my imagination and reality there in Delhi and about where the game is compared to the rest of the world. No offense from this side, I’m coming back out there for more camps and cool shit. Sorry…” [SIC]pic.twitter.com/g54w3TtAoH— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) August 11, 2017What Durant Apologised ForIn an interview with the Atlantic this week, he recalled his visit, saying the “cows in the street, monkeys running around everywhere, hundreds of people on the side of the road” and the poor living conditions of people. “Just a bunch of underprivileged people there and they want to learn how to play basketball. That — was really, really dope to me,” he said.Durant’s comments drew a lot of reactions online, with many people questioning the research he did about the destination, before undertaking the visit. He had said in the interview: “India, I’m thinking I’m going to be around palaces and royalty and gold — basically thought I was going to Dubai,” he said in the interview. “Then when I landed there, I saw the culture and how they live and it was rough. It’s a country that’s 20 years behind in terms of knowledge and experience.” He talked about his visit to the Taj Mahal, saying he had expected the Mughal monument to be “holy ground, super protected, very, very clean”. But what he saw, he said, was very different. “Mud in the middle of the street, houses were not finished but there were people living in them. No doors. No windows … stray dogs and then, boom, Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world,” he said.Trip to IndiaDurant was on his debut trip to India in July, during which he toured the country, coached the top local prospects in the game, and even set a Guinness World record for the world’s largest basketball lesson (multiple venues), in which 3,459 children participated. Related ItemsIndia basketballIndia NBAKevin Durant apologisesKevin Durant India tripKevin Durant NBA IndiaKevin Durant Taj MahalLittle Indialast_img read more

Drug-trade, Cheating Most Common Crimes by Foreigners in Goa

first_imgMore than 400 foreigners were booked for various crimes in Goa in the last five years, state Tourism Minister Manohar Azgaonkar told Goa Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.Most foreign nationals who have criminal cases against them belong to Nigeria, Russia, Nepal and UK, according to the written reply submitted to a question tabled by Margao MLA Digambar Kamat, Times of India reported.Booked for drug peddling, murderOver the years, crime against foreigners has made tourists wary of the popular destination. The rape and murder of Danielle McLaughlin, a 28-year-old Irish woman, in Canacona in March this year was the latest incident to rock the state. On the other hand, crimes committed by foreigner nationals in Goa, which hosts a huge expat community, has put the local people on alert.In the list of nature of crime, drug-trade was on top of the list, with as many as 63 cases registered under various sections of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act).This is followed by cheating, for which 58 foreign nationals were booked. Forty six foreign nationals were booked for violation of  Foreigners Act. The number of persons of foreign nationalities booked for murder and homicide, and rioting was 16 and 21, respectively.Crime by Foreign Nationals on RiseIn 2016, the percentage of crimes reported reduced by 11 per cent, but in January 2017, that figure rose by 9 per cent. In around 40 days into 2017, 243 cases were reported, according to the Times of India.Last month, a Nigerian national, Augustine Okafor Olise, was arrested for allegedly peddling drugs at Baga. In June, Russian national Edward Petrovich Goryachewa was arrested for allegedly stabbing three people at Baga Beach in North Goa.In March 2017, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar directed the police to take strict action against those involved in crime, specifically drug trade and crime against women. The following month, Parrikar put a stop to parties after 10 pm as a way to tackle the drug trade and crime in the state, Hindustan Times reported. Related ItemsCrimeCrime in GoaDrug-peddling in GoaForeignersForeigners Arrested in IndiaGoalate night party Goa.Little IndiaManohar Parrikar Goa crimeTourists arrested Crime in Goalast_img read more

Expat Voice: Brewing Happiness in City of Joy

first_imgI can read and write Bengali, says Grant Walsh while talking about having lived in Kolkata for over five years.“Bhalo. Tai na (Good. Isn’t it)?,” he asks. “I am not fluent and don’t understand the meaning of complex words. But I can recognize them and read them too,” he adds.Passionate about coffee and “American cafes”, Grant moved to India from the United States to establish a brand that would be known for the beverage across India.“I explored Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru but they already had good establishments,” the 39-year-old bodybuilder tells Little India. “Kolkata did not have any, so I chose to build 8th Day Cafe and Bakery here.”Grant tells us about finding happiness with his wife and two sons in the City of Joy:Sights and Sounds One of the first things I noticed about Kolkata were the different sights and sounds, the chaos, the non-stop honking by drivers… American life is very private. But here, all of life happens on the streets in public.Durga Puja is unique. Ahead of the festival, I suddenly saw temporary structures going up on roads and in parks. Every nook and corner had a pandal. The celebratory nature of the people with all the drumming, singing and the lights was overwhelming.Taking the Durga or Kali idols for immersion into the Ganga was an amazing experience. My whole life changed during those first few weeks.During Diwali, I felt like I was in a war-zone. There was non-stop bursting of fire crackers throughout the night. It was insane.Grant Walsh with his wife and two sons8th Day of the Week The cafe’s name — 8th Day — is a play on the idea that the 8th day of a week is a separate day meant for how you wish to spend it.The cafe also gave me the opportunity to meet new people and form some great friendships. We are now friends with the vendors, and also get invited to trade shows and festivals across the city.We host Arcadia sessions at the cafe every month — usually on the last Friday — when we either bring an Indian artiste to perform, or host an Open Mic Night where people express themselves in whichever way they like. We also display the works of different artists on the walls every six weeks to help them get exposure and a chance to sell their artwork.Bureaucracy and Paperwork I started building the cafe in September 2014 without having any idea about the ramifications of the Puja season on labor. Nobody was willing to work because of back-to-back Durga Puja and Diwali festivals.I come from Arizona where I can set up a company in two days online if I want. When I moved here, I didn’t realize it would be such a hard task.The level of bureaucracy and paperwork that needs to be done here is long. The lack of transparency and communication irritated me the most.Whenever I asked the concerned people how long the paperwork would take, they would tell me that it would get done soon. If they had been honest to say that it would take nearly two months, I wouldn’t have gone through so much stress.Who Eats at 10 pm? When I go to the homes of my Indian friends, I see them eating at 10-11 pm or maybe later. I’m usually asleep for two hours by then. In the United States, we eat by 6 pm.Seeing people eat with their hands felt weird. My friends here give us cutlery. But now, I have tried it myself and also learnt to appreciate it.Bengali food has become one of my favorite foods ever. The Chinese cuisine is interesting. I used to eat a lot of street food -– egg rolls, puchkas and momos — during the first couple of years of my stay. I would choose street food over anything even today. But I had to stop eating it because I couldn’t stay healthy.Arcadia Session at 8th Day Cafe and Bakery in Kolkata.Laidback Kolkata People here are a lot more satisfied with their lives unlike the American people, who are more focused on climbing up the corporate ladder. I think people here don’t feel the need to do so because that would mean compromising on the time they spend with family and friends.It’s been a time of learning for me in this city. When it came to doing business here, I had to be humble and not assume that I know how to do things just because I knew how to do them in the U.S. I allowed the country to have an impact on me and teach me.My son is culturally more Indian than an American because he has spent his formative years in Kolkata. I myself feel like I am both Indian and American now.Bonding Among Communities The most beautiful thing about the people here is that they have a deep understanding of relationships. The genuine care that they have for each other has been my biggest takeaway from India.When we first moved to Kolkata, we stayed at Salt Lake for a year. My son had parked his bike out on the porch. But it was gone in the morning. We thought maybe someone stole it.But we found it parked in the afternoon. The child who took it rode it back to the house. “You left it here,” the child said when we asked him. I got confused and asked some Indian friends about it. They said it’s a community and we should share everything among each other. The child just wanted to use the bike for a while so he took it for a ride.In our neighborhood, when somebody gets sick, everyone rallies around to extend help.I see three generations living together under one roof.It is such a beautiful picture of humanity that I hope I will take back with me if I ever move back to the United States.The interview has been condensed and edited.Expat Voice is regular column on expats in India. Email us at expat@littleindia.com to nominate yourself or another expat for the column. Related Items8th Day cafe American8th Day Cafe KolkataAmerican KolkataExpat Kolkataforeigners in IndiaGrant Walsh 8th Day CafeGrant Walsh KolkataKolkata foreignerslast_img read more

Expat Voice: On the Light Side

first_imgMane Voskerchyan came to Delhi from Armenia in 2012 to pursue an internship at AIESEC, the non-profit youth organization. She interned with three companies in India as an international manager before moving to the United States in 2014.“After working in the United States for a year, I moved back to India because I wanted to start my own business,” Voskerchyan tells Little India. “I was familiar with the market in India. It had great potential and I had good friends and connections in Delhi.”Voskerchyan, 28, lives with her French partner Jean Marc Dameron, whom she met at the India Art Fair in Delhi. The couple, who run a handmade candles business, recently had a baby girl.Voskerchyan talks about her interesting first day in the “city of tanks and gates,” the natural beauty of India, the significance of Holi and more:At least the moon is the same!When I arrived in India, I reached the house that AIESEC provided me with. There was a Japanese girl in bed with high fever. Every hour, someone would go inside to check if she was alive because she wasn’t moving at all. My Brazilian roommate was in hospital. A Kenyan and a Japanese guy also lived in the same house.In the morning, the Japanese man took me to the market in Kailash Colony. In Armenia, we consume a lot of cheese. I could not find anything familiar to me in the store and thought of buying some bread, cheese and ham so that I could make a sandwich and be good for the day. I asked the shopkeeper if he had cheese and bread. He said no. I called my friend, crying, and said that the market here does not have cheese or bread. What am I going to eat?Later in the evening, I had to meet my friend at Old Fort for a light show. There were a lot of mosquitoes so I kept scratching my leg. My friends asked me to stop as they thought I was trying to get attention. On our way back home, they saw my legs, which were all red. I also fell sick.That’s when I just happened to look at the sky and saw the moon and exclaimed, “Oh my god! The moon is the same.”That was my first day in India. My friends still make fun of me for saying that.Mane Voskerchyan and Jean Marc DameronFragrance of ArmeniaMy partner and I started Natura Morta Candles with the aim to encourage people to appreciate nature and its gifts.We collect flowers from the mountains in Armenia. We then dry the flowers and bring them to India to make the candles. All the candles are handmade and one-of-a-kind pieces. We do not use any chemicals in the process. We sell them in India, Armenia and Japan.I learnt to live in harmony with nature in India. I realized I wanted to have an impact on people’s lives after I moved here. Through my work, I try to encourage people to value themselves, because they fail to embrace their identity. If you look at trees, they are never the same and that is their beauty. You never say a tree is ugly. Then why are you so critical of yourself?City of tanks and gatesI was surprised to see gates separating one colony from the others. If we would reach our house beyond 9 pm, we had to enter from the back gate as only one gate would remain open. We had to give our numbers and tell them which house we were going to otherwise the car wouldn’t be allowed to enter. I found it very weird.For me, seeing tanks on the rooftops of buildings was very new because the rooftops in my home country don’t look like that. We don’t have gates or tanks on the rooftops of homes in Armenia. I call Delhi a “City of Tanks and Gates.”However, the parks here are beautiful. There are so many different kinds of trees. When my parents came here, I took them to the parks here. I have two dogs so I take them there for walks. Even when you go to the zoo here, each tree has a name. If I ever go back to Armenia, I will miss the parks the most.A stinky affairA few years ago, we went to a few places in Rajasthan for a short trip. We stopped in Jodhpur for a night as we had to take a train back to Delhi the next day. We could not spend a lot of money as we were interns so we stayed at a low-cost hotel.We thought we would take a shower before sleeping. I went in first, took a shower and came back. Then, one of my friends went in to brush her teeth only to come out and complain about the water being bad. There was also a terrible stink in the washroom. We asked another friend who had used the toilet. “I swear I did nothing,” she said. We opened the windows in the washroom but the smell just wouldn’t go.Later, we realized that we had taken a shower with stinky water. We complained about it to the hotel authorities, who then provided us with clean water. We washed our hair with shampoo but the smell wouldn’t go. In the end, we had to put shampoo in our hair, tie it up and sleep the entire night with it to get rid of the smell.It was quite an experience. We laugh when we talk about it now. But at that point of time, we freaked out.Holi – Giving a second chanceI first played Holi with my Indian friends in Armenia. When I asked them what it meant, this is what they told me:‘When you happen to see the face of a person you hate or are angry with, you instantly remember the reason behind the hate. India has a caste system in place. When you see someone of a lower caste, you tend to avoid talking to them.On Holi, the faces of people are covered with color, which means you don’t really recognize the person you hate. You don’t know whether the person belongs to your caste. Therefore, you don’t feel any negative emotions because you are too busy enjoying the festival.The festival is about giving love or equality a second chance. No one is above or below each other. During that time, we are all equal. There is no slave or king. I don’t hate you because I don’t recognize you. I don’t see you. I see the color.’It made so much sense to me. It’s a beautiful thought.Mane VoskerchyanValue of a person’s lifeAn incident that happened at one of the companies I interned at really came as a shock to me. The company had installed silos (big containers to store grains) in one of the neighboring countries. However, the installation was not done properly due to which the silos collapsed and a laborer died.I was horrified when I came to know about it. As a sales manager, I started to question the kind of product I was selling and the kind of company I was working for.Later, I was told that the matter had been settled. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know whether the company paid some compensation to the worker’s family or did something else. But I was told that the matter was settled.It made me think about the lack of value of a person’s life here.Unforgettable journeyI have spent a lot of quality time with myself in India. There is so much to see and experience here. India is a part of me now. It is my second home.What I love about India is that it makes you think out of the box. It’s a country of extremes. It broadened my horizon and made me a very strong person. It’s been an unforgettable journey so far.The interview has been condensed and edited. Expat Voice is regular column on expats in India. Email us at expat@littleindia.com to nominate yourself or another expat for the column.  Related ItemsArmeniaNew Delhilast_img read more

Interpol Notice against Indian-origin Businessmen over Rare Diamond

first_imgInterpol has issued red notices for four Indian-origin businessmen in South Africa regarding a legal battle over a Rs.2.5 billion rare pink diamond. A Russian telecommunications tycoon and a local diamond dealer have accused Zunaid Moti, his father Abbas Aboo Baker Moti and their associates Ashruf Kaka and Salim Bobat, of stealing the diamond from them.Red Notices IssuedThe red notices follow a two-year tripartite legal battle that took place in courts in France, Lebanon, Zimbabwe and Dubai, The Times reported. Moti and associates have now taken the case to Pretoria High Court to fight the warrants.A red notice is an international alert issued by Interpol seeking the location and arrest of a wanted person for extradition.‘Fraudulent’ PapersThe four businessmen claimed that the papers that Russian businessman Alibek Issaev showed in court, accusing them of theft of the diamond, were obtained by fraud. They have asked the local court to stop the execution of the Interpol warrants.The police and judicial authorities in South Africa have confirmed that no warrants or extradition notices for the four businessmen had been received until now.Claim to be Wrongly AccusedThe businessmen have accused Issaev, who was a former business partner in their company, of stealing the diamond from them by lying about a potential buyer in Russia.Complicating the case further, international diamond dealer Sylla Moussa accused the four Indian-origin men of stealing the same diamond from him in 2003. But according to Kaka, Moussa had given them the diamond as payment of a debt and had even given them a letter of surety.Kaka further told The Times that Issaev got the Interpol warrants issued against them by the Lebanese authorities in retaliation for an Interpol arrest warrant that they had got issued against him when a business deal went wrong in Zimbabwe.Paul O’Sullivan, a private investigator hired by the Indian-origin businessmen, said that his clients had never been to Lebanon. They have requested the court to defer the warrants “pending the outcome of our matter with Interpol’s oversight body in Lyon and the court cases which we have running in Lebanon, where we are challenging the original arrest warrants, Zimbabwe and Dubai,” PTI reported. Related Itemsdiamond dealer fraud South AfricaIndia South Africa diamond interpolIndian-origin diamond interpolInterpol Red noticesLittle IndiaPink diamond theftZunaid Moti warrantslast_img read more

Indian Adventurism is a Part of Me, Says Music Composer Colin Aguiar

first_imgMusic composer Colin Aguiar’s tryst with sounds and notes began in Goa even before he was born. Years later, he is working with Oscar-nominated composers in Los Angeles and Canada. So yes, life has been quite an adventure.Aguiar grew up in an environment where music was a passion and profession. His musical journey began when he was a toddler. His father Cleto played in a band that performed globally. His parents, who belonged to Portuguese Indian heritage from Goa, lived in Mumbai, and then moved to Canada, where Aguiar spent his formative years.Along with his father, Aguiar traveled to the Netherlands, England and Canada for his performances. Cleto was a jazz and pop singer since his teens while Colin’s maternal uncle was the bass player in the same band. Aguiar, who is primarily a percussionist, grew up listening to Bollywood music and jazz standards. By the age of 10, he was already composing. By 16, he was writing semi-professionally and two years later, he composed a set for three short films in Canada. He then moved on to TV and commercials in the country, where he got the opportunity to work with Oscar-nominated music composer Mychael Danna.Aguiar spoke to Little India about the influence of his identity and his journey on his music as well as his latest project:How has your identity influenced your music? Out of the 1.3 billion Indians there are, I’ve noticed that there’s a good number who love adventure and “adventure” seems to be the running theme with my family. They come from Goa, but they moved to the big city of Mumbai where my parents grew up, and then we did stints in Europe before moving to Canada and I eventually moved to Los Angeles. But before all that, the family originally began in Portugal. So adventurism has also been a part of my musical rearing.You seem fascinated with combining different sounds… I was always curious about different music. Growing up, when I was about 5 or 6, I would be really fascinated with Japanese music for a few months, then I’d move on to African music (I was a drummer), then Kathakali, then Opera, then back to Classical and playing in bands when I was 12. The sense of Indian adventurism has always been a part of me.Tell us about your experience of working in movies that went on to get nominated in Oscars or got the Canadian Academy awards. My experience with most of those movies was under the mantle of my mentor, the Oscar-winning Canadian composer, Mychael Danna, who has played a big part in my life. Working for him, I got a first-hand look at the process of beautiful films like Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter that was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director, but also Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm. This all led to the experience of scoring my very own film that got nominated for an Oscar in the Student category – Fly, directed by Jigar Talati – a gorgeous film about the immigrant experience of an Indian family in Canada. But what was reinforced time and time again was that films require a composer to be imaginative, collaborative and hard working beyond the typical demands of a job but none of that mattered if you loved it and were in love with the outcome.What is your process when working on a film? First point of inspiration is always the film. When I see the film for the first time I get a lot of ideas from there. Breathing a unique life into the score takes the film to a new level of experience. After you watch with music that is unique to the film, characters and stories pop out and you are more engaged emotionally. I feel that just writing music is not enough. The films deserve more effort. They deserve a level of thought great literature have. Some books have lived hundreds of years. The films I work on deserve a symbolic treatment that works on different levels.What’s your latest project about? The latest project is a TV film, Final Vision, based on a trial case of Jeffrey Macdonald. He had killed his pregnant wife and two daughters in 1970. I read the script, which was my first point of inspiration. After watching the movie, several themes and situations surfaced. Crime scenes deserve a certain level of dissonance and level that the music had to bring. I had to personify the innocence of the two little girls and wife, who were murdered by the Army doctor. I used a female vocalist for that and the melody recurs. The film is based on a New York Times bestseller Fatal Vision by Joe McGinniss for the Investigation Discovery (ID) channel. Since the book is the narrator, I used the typewriter as percussion so that there is an essence of the book having its own narration.The cast of Final Vision includes Scott Foley of Scandal fame as Jeffrey MacDonald, Dave Annable of Brothers and Sisters fame playing the writer Joe McGinniss and Jessica Harmon, who plays the recurring character Niylah in the CW series The 100, as Colette MacDonald. Related Itemscolin aguiardave annablefinal vision Indianhollywood NRIIndian American music composerindian portuguesejessica harmonscott foleylast_img read more

New Immigration Draft Proposal May Be Beneficial For Indian Workers in U.S.

first_imgHighly qualified young Indian American professionals who have applied for permanent residentship in the United States could have a better chance of receiving the green card if a new draft proposal for immigration goes through. The proposed changes from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will have negative repercussions on immigrants who seek any kind of government welfare benefit, the Washington Post reported.On the other hand, young skilled workers with a stable income, who pay taxes and a have a well-established job, have health insurance and are unlikely to become a financial burden on the state or federal government, will have a better chance of getting their petition approved than those closer to the retirement age.Indian H-1B visa workers who have been living in the United States have also been seeking green card reform so that the skilled workers can get permanent residentship. Indians and Chinese make up the majority of the H-1B visa recipients.Children below 18 years and adults over the age of 50 years may have difficulty to get a green card. The proposal has also hit out at family migration. Unless people have enough resources to sustain themselves and not be a burden to the government they will have difficulty getting a family-sponsored visa, the report said.Any immigrant who has benefited from the Earned Income Tax Credit, certain healthcare subsidies, and other “non-cash public benefits” like helping an individual beneficiary meet basic living requirements, such as housing, food, utilities, would be negatively affected by the proposal.The foreign national should be able to support himself/herself and any dependents with assets, resources, or annual income equal to at least 125 per cent of the federal poverty guidelines (FPG) based on the household size, the DHS said. According to the proposal, 125 per cent of FPG ranges from approximately $20,300 for a family of two, to $51,650 for a family of eight.Many of the Indians seeking green cards in the United States are young highly educated workers in the technology industry, employed in well-paying jobs, thus falling into the group identified by the draft proposal.The DHS could analyze past use of public benefits and individual assets and income to see if the applicants can become a liability for the government.However, rights advocates and anti-poverty groups have condemned the new proposal for alienating the lower income groups.The proposal would hit not only those seeking immigration visas but also the individuals covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.If implemented, these rules “could make it nearly impossible for an immigrant working in low-wage industries to become citizens,” Ali Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum, argued in a tweet on March 28.“This is both cruel and counterproductive,” said Alyona Minkovski of the online program, Alyona Show.Four other immigration proposals were earlier vetoed by the United States Senate. The US Spending Bill, which was approved, did not mention any change in policy for DACA or other illegal immigrants. Related ItemsDACAGreen CardUnited Stateslast_img read more

U.S. Court Approves Auction of Assets by Indian Jeweler’s Bankrupt Firms

first_imgIn a setback to Punjab National Bank, a U.S. bankruptcy court has allowed Indian jeweler Nirav Modi’s company Firestar Diamonds and other related companies to sell their assets, the Mint reported. The court has invited bids for the assets of the distressed companies till April 27, and the auction of the assets will start on May 5.The Punjab National Bank (PNB), in a hearing on March 28, opposed the sale, saying that truncated sale will limit the recovery of creditors. The PNB spokesperson did not comment on the development, the report added.The PNB told the court that the companies have not given any information on whether any of the assets to be sold were obtained with funds fraudulently obtained from the bank, or whether debtors were otherwise used to launder funds. The bank is facing a liability of Rs 12,636 crore in the Nirav Modi scam.“The Court having conducted a hearing on 28 March 2018, at which time the Court considered, among other things, the bidding procedures, any objections thereto and the oral arguments of counsel; and it further appearing that the relief requested is reasonable and necessary to protect the interests of the debtors, their estates, and creditors,” the court order dated March 29 said.As per the court, the distressed companies have demonstrated sufficient business reasons for approval of bidding and auctioning of its assets. The court will hold sale hearing on May 15.Even though the court did not pay heed to PNB’s objections, the bank has time until May 8 to file an appeal with its objections, and the companies have time until May 11 to respond.In February, Firestar Diamond and two affiliates (Fantasy Inc. and A. Jaffe Inc.) filed for bankruptcy protection in the southern district of New York court through a voluntary petition under Chapter 11 of bankruptcy code, citing supply chain disruption. The companies have not mentioned PNB as one of its creditors in the bankruptcy petitions.Meanwhile, the Belgian authorities have frozen two accounts of Modi at the request of India’s Enforcement Directorate, the Hindu reported.The ED has also sent Letters Rogatories to Hong Kong, Switzerland, the United States, the United Kingdom, Dubai, Singapore and South Africa in a bid to stop Modi from using the funds in those accounts.“After the Punjab National Bank scam broke out and investigations were launched, all agencies were roped in to gather more and more facts. The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has also been providing vital information,” the report quoted an official as saying.The ED also arrested the vice president of a firm of Modi last week for allegedly aiding in the laundering of over Rs 5,900 crore in connection with the government owned bank fraud case, the report said. Related ItemsNirav ModiPunjab NAtional BankUnited Stateslast_img read more

Indian Origin Accountant Among 4 Sentenced For UK Immigration Scam

first_imgAn Indian origin accountant is among five men to be sentenced to 31 years in jail in a £13 million immigration scam in the UK.According to a local media, the men were found guilty of the multi-million-pound scam after a 35-week trial.The crime took place over a span of six years where the group claimed £13 million in tax repayments and submitted over 900 fake visa applications, according to reports.The Indian origin accountant, Jalpa Trivedi, 41, was sentenced to three years in jail for assisting and managing the accounting side of the scam, PTI reported.Abul Kalam Muhammad Rezaul Karim, a London based Bangladeshi origin law student was the ringleader of the group. The 42-year-old has been charged for setting up 79 hoax companies along with fake credentials to help Bangladeshi nationals with fraud visa documents.The group also used the company documents to reclaim tax repayments from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for six years with £172,000 already paid and the amount could have reached £13 million if the fraud would have gone undetected.The UK’s Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigation (CFI) team said the investigation took was “longest ever undertaken,” PTI reported.The fraudsters were arrested on 26 February 2013. They were found guilty after a 35-week case trial which ended on 16 November 2018.Lyn Sari, Deputy Director, Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigation, said: “My officers, working alongside our partners at HMRC, have conducted a thorough and complex investigation to dismantle a serious organized crime group that was intent on undermining the UK’s immigration system,” HuffPost reported.“The length of the investigation – the longest ever undertaken by CFI – is in itself an indication of the sophisticated criminality that these offenders were engaged in. My officers have shown tremendous tenacity, as well as expertise, to bring this case to a successful conclusion,” the publication quoted Sari as saying.  “It sends a clear message that we will not hesitate to prosecute anyone involved in this type of criminality.” Related Itemslast_img read more

India A women’s hockey team to face France A in four-match series

first_imgThe India ‘A’ women’s hockey team will look to gain much needed exposure when it takes on France ‘A’ in the opening match of four-game series in Lucknow on Friday.The Indian team, led by skipper Salima Tete, comprises of players from the Indian Development Women’s Core Group and will look to put their skills to test against a France side who have a mixture of youth and experience in their 21-member squad.”We are all very excited to be playing at home in Lucknow and Gorakhpur against a French team who will give us tough competition in the four Matches,” said India ‘A’ women’s hockey team coach Baljeet Singh.”These matches will help us in developing these players to play together as a unit, and to understand the different strategies that we want to implement.”The fact that we are playing in-front of home support makes it even more exciting for the girls as it will be a proud moment for them.”Singh said playing such matches will help in the development of the players.”When it comes to the junior teams, we have limited competitions throughout the year so I welcome the move from Hockey India and the French Hockey Federation to play bilateral matches,” said the Indian coach.India ‘A’ Women’s Team will be embarking on a new journey from 8th February 2019 when they host visitors @FF_Hockey in Lucknow. Here’s a look at the schedule! #IndiaKaGame pic.twitter.com/oVkFeayBEAHockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) February 6, 2019Coach of the India ‘A’ Women’s Team, Baljeet Singh, is optimistic about the upcoming tournament as it will prove to be a great platform for budding players. #IndiaKaGame pic.twitter.com/YzIt1o5RmsadvertisementHockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) February 7, 2019″Such initiatives will help us in implementing different tactics and combinations that we practice during camps, and gives us the opportunity to develop these players for bigger challenges.”After the opening match, the two teams will travel to Gorakhpur for the second match on February 10. They will then return to Lucknow to play the third and fourth matches on February 12 and February 13 respectively.Also Read | India bids to host men’s or women’s hockey World Cup in 2023last_img read more

6 days agoWatford boss Sanchez Flores mixed emotions after draw with Tottenham

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Watford boss Sanchez Flores mixed emotions after draw with Tottenhamby Paul Vegas6 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveWatford boss Quique Sanchez Flores had mixed emotions after their 1-1 draw with Tottenham.Abdoulaye Doucoure’s early goal had set the Hornets on their way to a first victory of the campaign and it increasingly looked like they would get it until controversy reigned four minutes from the end when Dele Alli’s equaliser was allowed to stand after a VAR review, despite the big screens initially showing ‘no goal’. Sanchez Flores said, “Sometimes we were defending a little bit deep but they have very good players. Sometimes when the central defenders could drive and get into positions close to box it was very difficult. But I thought the team was really safe and always with the possibility to create opportunities on the counter-attack.“I saw many teams playing against Tottenham when we were analysing in the week. Newcastle, how they won here, Southampton, how they played, and I think we played much better but we could just draw. Just draw sounds a little bit weird because they got the goal with four minutes left, but if we are realistic and thinking before the match, to draw here is a good result.” last_img read more

Lecture on Nova Scotia Gaelic Storytelling at Highland Village Iona

first_imgAn internationally renowned expert on Gaelic Cape Breton will give a talk on Nova Scotia Gaelic storytellers Wednesday, Aug. 8, at Highland Village Museum in Iona, Victoria Co. John Shaw will discuss the importance of Cape Breton’s Gaelic storytellers and their repertoires in relation to the oral traditions of peoples speaking Celtic languages. He will examine the historical background of Gaelic storytelling in Cape Breton from the time of Highland settlement and how stories are passed on. Storytellers recorded in the island’s communities will be discussed along with brief histories of selected tales and Cape Breton’s valuable contribution to wider folktale research. Examples of the Cape Breton storytelling tradition will round out the presentation. Mr. Shaw lives in Edinburgh, Scotland where he is a senior lecturer in Scottish ethnography with the school of Scottish studies, University of Edinburgh. A former Glendale, Inverness Co. resident, he is known internationally for his academic work on Gaelic Cape Breton. He has produced three collections of Gaelic stories including the recently published Na Beanntaichean Gorma/The Blue Mountains, a collection of Cape Breton Gaelic tales. Our Nova Scotia Gaelic Storytellers and Their Stories is part of the Seòmbar na Gréineadh/Summer Room Lecture Series. It will begin at 7 p.m. in the Highland Village Tuning Room. Admission is free and all are welcome. For more information, call 902-725-2272 or e-mail highlandvillage@gov.ns.ca .last_img read more

Post record transfer to govt RBI contingency fund dips to Rs 196

first_imgFollowing Reserve Bank of India’s record transfer of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the government, the central bank’s contingency fund, useful in fighting any exigency, has dipped to Rs 1.96 lakh crore as of June 30, according to RBI’s annual report for FY19. After the payout to the government, “the balance in the contingency fund as of June 30, 2019, was Rs 1,96,344 crore compared to Rs 2,32,108 crore as of June 30, 2018,” the annual report said.The RBI’s transfer of Rs 1,76,501 crore to the government comprised of Rs 1,23,414 crore of surplus for the year 2018-19 and Rs 52,637 crore of excess provisions identified as per the revised Economic Capital Framework (ECF) adopted at the meeting of the Central Board on Monday. The transferred amount is over three times the five-year average of Rs 53,000 crore. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details The annual report says the RBI computed exchange gains/losses using the weighted average cost method resulting in an impact of Rs 21,464 crore. It also said income from domestic sources increased 132.07 per cent to Rs 1,18,078 crore from Rs 50,880 crore in the previous fiscal.Giving reasons behind the increase in income, RBI said it was due to rise in the portfolio of rupee securities, net income on interest under liquidity adjustment facility and also write back of excess risk provision from the contingency fund. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from ThursdayIn its report, the Reserve Bank of India said a lack of domestic demand was ailing the animal spirits and there was a need to focus on reviving private investments. The central banking institution also mentioned that post the IL&FS crisis, credit flow from non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) to the commercial sector has dipped 20 per cent. The country has been facing a liquidity crunch on account of the crisis in the NBFC sector that is acting as a hurdle for private investment. The RBI annual report mentioned that fraud cases reported by banks saw a jump of 15 per cent year-on-year basis in 2018-19, with the amount involved increasing by 73.8 per cent in the current financial year. In FY19, banking sector reported 6,801 frauds involving Rs 71,542.93 crore as against 5,916 cases involving Rs 41,167.04 crore reported in 2017-18. Public sector banks have accounted for the bulk of frauds reported in 2018-19. According to the report, state-run banks reported 3,766 cases of frauds worth Rs 64,509.43 crore as against 2,885 cases involving Rs 38,260.8 crore. Interestingly, frauds relating to card/internet and deposits constituted only 0.3 per cent of the total value of frauds in 2018-19. Cheating and forgery was the major component, followed by misappropriation and criminal breach of trust.Underscoring that reviving consumption and private investment should be the priority for the government, the RBI in its annual report said the ongoing growth deceleration was a “soft patch mutating into a cyclical downswing”. “The key question that confronts the economy is: are we dealing with a soft patch, or a cyclical downswing, or a structural slowdown?” the RBI, which has revised down its GDP forecast to 6.9 per cent earlier this month, said in its report. On steps to revive growth, RBI recommended strengthening both the banking and non-banking sectors, a “big push” to infrastructure spends and implementation of structural reforms in labour laws and taxation. The RBI has cut its key rates by 1.10 per cent in 2019 to a nine-year low of 5.4 per cent in four successive rate cuts to help revive the sagging growth. The RBI also mentioned that factors like farm loan waivers, implementation of the seventh pay panel report and the various income support schemes were “constraining” the states’ ability to deliver fiscal stimulus. However, the “silver lining” is the macroeconomic stability, fiscal deficit being reigned in and also the low current account gap, the report said.(inputs from The Indian Express)last_img read more

Droughtlike situation declared in Manipur

first_imgImphal: The cabinet of Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh has declared a drought-like situation in the state owing to scant rain that have led to crop failures in over 70 blocks of the state, a government release said.The decision was taken on Saturday to seek relief from the Centre, the statement by N Geoffrey, secretary to the chief minister, said.”Rain deficit this year has affected crops in over 70 blocks of the state. Villages that have witnessed crop failures ranging between 33 per cent and more than 50 per cent have been categorised as moderately and severely affected,” it said.Prior to the cabinet meeting, the chief minister chaired a high-level emergency meeting with cabinet ministers, MLAs, top officials, deputy commissioners of 16 districts and representatives of agricultural institutes to discuss the situation, it said.last_img read more