Number of Tier Four UK Visas Given to Indian Students Rises

first_imgThe United Kingdom wants more Indian students to arrive in the country to study, Bruce Buckneil, the British Deputy High Commissioner to India, said on Feb. 20. A 27 per cent increase was  recorded in the number of tier four visas given to students from India in 2017, he added.“We granted over 14,000 tier-four student visas and at the same time around 5,000 short-time study visas. Also, 53,000 tier-2 visas have been granted to Indian nationals,” he said, according to the Statesman.Prior to 2017, the number of tier four visas had dipped to 11,300.“This year the number has however increased up to 14,000, which I believe is a good indication. However, the tough immigration laws are only to check the number of illegal immigrants in UK. Their visas have expired and most of them have no reason to justify their stay in UK. Most of such illegal immigrants enter the country using student visas,” he said.There are 5,000 people of Indian origin working in UK universities, Buckneil told PTI.“We have a diverse population of students but we would like to have more students at our international standing universities,” he said.Asked if students will be permitted to look for jobs after the completion of their studies, he said, “We have already started a pilot project, in collaboration with some of the reputed universities, that enables a student to stay for another six months in UK after completing their course to look for a job. This pilot project program is being extended to another 23 universities for September 2018-19.”He added that the United Kingdom wants to track the best students from reputed and top ranking universities. “This program will help students, who are studying in UK for long courses extend their stay. It will also depend on what students have been studying-course specific- over there. Once they complete it and join these universities, they will be able to stay longer and find proper jobs. But we want people to strictly abide by the immigration laws and not take undue advantage of the facilities being extended to them,” he said.The United Kingdom recently launched a campaign called “Beat the peak” to encourage those visiting the country to apply for visa at least three months in advance to beat the rush. There are also 18 UK visa centers in India, with the latest one being opened in Bengaluru.Two-thirds of all of United Kingdom’s visas — 60,000 in total — went to Indians in 2017. The country also said recently that a two-year multiple entry visa will be considered for Indians after running the pilot project with China.The United Kingdom had seen a fall in Indian students because of lack of employment and the government’s push towards decreasing net immigration, which included students. Related ItemsBritainuk visaUnited Kingdomlast_img read more

Australian Senator’s ‘Racist’ Speech Against Immigration Sparks Controversy

first_imgAustralian senator Fraser Anning, who called for a reduction in the number of student visas and “job stealing” 457 visas, is facing criticism after making several controversial and factually incorrect comments during his maiden speech in the Senate on Aug. 14.Anning’s speech received condemnation from politicians and people for his anti-immigration remarks and racist phrases such as “final solution,” while several media reports revealed that he cited wrong information about immigration issues at many places.Immigration to Australia “should be a privilege, not an obligation-free right provided to anyone from the Third World who demands it,” Anning said.“First, 457 visas, which simply steal jobs from Australians, should be abolished unless expressly approved by the immigration minister. This will create more jobs for Australians and end the massive rorting of these for backdoor permanent immigration,” the Katter’s Australian Party member added.The 457 visa, which the Queensland senator urged to abolish, was, however, ended in 2017 by the Malcolm Turnbull government. It was the most common visa for Australian or overseas employers to sponsor skilled overseas workers to work temporarily in the country for up to four years. The 457 visa was replaced by the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa, which is restricted to areas with critical skill shortages, and requires mandatory labor market testing before the visa application.Anning also claimed that a majority of Australians want to reduce the number of Muslim immigrants entering the country, which turned out to another incorrect statement, the Sunday Morning Herald reported, citing the conclusion of a Monash University survey related to the attitudes to migration. “About 80 percent of Australians support a non-discriminatory immigration program. In 2017, just 15.8 percent of respondents said it should be possible to reject migrants based on their race or ethnicity. Although the survey found negative sentiment toward Muslims was ‘relatively high,’ the figure did not exceed 25 percent,” the survey found.Trying to make his case strong against Muslim immigration, Anning called them responsible for committing a large number of crimes in the country.“Muslims in New South Wales and Victoria are three times more likely than other groups to be convicted of crimes. We have black African Muslim gangs terrorizing Melbourne,” he said in his speech.However, the SMH report said that both the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research and Victoria’s Crime Statistics Agency told Fairfax Media that “they did not possess or publish reliable data on the religious affiliation of criminals.”Anning also called for a drastic reduction in the number of student visas in Australia, and said that international students should be sent back to their countries after the completion of their studies. Indian students form the second largest group of international students studying in Australia, after Chinese students.Anning received widespread condemnation for calling for a “final solution” to the immigration issue, a phrase used in Nazi Germany for the extermination of Jewish people throughout Europe.Prime Minister Turnbull called the speech “appalling” while Opposition leader Bill Shorten labelled it as “repugnant and disgraceful.”Anning’s adviser Richard Mcgilvray resigned in protest shortly after the speech, saying he has no prior knowledge of the senator’s plan to refer to the “final solution.”Later, when asked on the Today television show if he wanted to apologize for the comments, Anning said that his comments were taken out of context. He, however, stood firm on his statements that called for a cut on Muslim immigration. Related ItemsAustralialast_img read more

Indian Researcher Expresses Anguish Over UK Visa Denial, WHO Raises Concern

first_imgAn Indian research scholar has expressed his anger over being denied a UK visa to attend an international conference due to insufficient bank balance.Sabu K U, a Ph.D. scholar in Kerala’s Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology had applied for a visa to attend the Fifth Global Symposium on Health System Research in Liverpool, United Kingdom. His visa application was rejected due to insufficient bank balance. He later said the decision was wrong as he was awarded a scholarship that covered the entire cost of the conference.The World Health Organization (WHO) too came to his rescue by raising its concerns over denial of visa to academicians.After his visa request was denied, he wrote an article titled “A Reflection on the Inclusiveness of International Conferences on Health and Social Justice” to share his anguish of being rejected for the visa. He says that 25 days after submitting the visa application, he got a rejection letter saying that his visa application is being declined as his bank account doesn’t maintain enough balance in it.“Was it not enough that I had received a scholarship to cover the full cost of attending the symposium and the scholarship award documents had been submitted with the visa application? And what does this visa rejection mean?” he wrote in his article.Sabu wrote in his article that visa rules of developed nations make it impossible for the economically weak non-EU researchers to attend events happening there.British newspaper the Guardian quoted Dr Masoud Dara, a communicable diseases coordinator at the WHO as saying, “International events are better organized in countries where the invited participants can more easily attend. The tough immigration policies may have impact on academic cooperation, if specific measures are not put in place to facilitate scientists’ travel to and from various countries.”Prof. Martin McKee, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, called Sabu’s visa rejection as disgraceful and slammed the rejection in a tweet.It’s no longer acceptable to organise major international meetings in UK or US. If you create hostile environments you can’t expect people to come & spend money. We had problems during @ASPHERoffice meeting in London – eminent colleague unable to get visa. Disgraceful.— Martin McKee #FBPE (@martinmckee) October 7, 2018Sabu has alleged that he was denied visa as he belongs to a lower-income background and said that to attend such global events, one should belong to an economically sound section of the society.“In reality, it shows that even if someone from an LMIC (Lower-Middle Income Country) receives a full scholarship to attend such an international symposium, that person must also belong to an upper or middle-class family that is able to maintain a sufficiently high bank balance for the minimum three months that is required, in order to be granted a visa to attend such an event,” he wrote in his article.He also said that rich countries typically stereotype people from a lower income country as illegal migrants, no matter how much educated or talented they are.“This rejection also reflects richer countries’ stereotyped views of individuals from poorer countries as being illegal migrants who would try to overstay their visas and make a living in those countries,” he wrote. Related Itemslast_img read more

Braingain

first_imgMany South Asian immigrants who came to America in the 60s brought with them the power of their gray cells and their math skills, taking on careers in science, medicine and engineering. And now they seem to be still contributing to America’s brain gain through their children! Over 35 South Asians are on the list of 300 shortlisted semi-finalists in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search national competition. That’s a whopping 50 times their representation in the U.S. population. Some of the research these high schoolers presented in their projects looked into early detection of autism, cancers, cardiovascular disease and tumors, antibacterial packaging for seafood and other innovative ideas. For America, Indian immigrants seem to be a gift that keeps on giving. It’s a no-brainer. Related Itemslast_img read more

Poo Without A Loo

first_imgNearly half of India’s population defecates in the open, among the highest proportions in the world.Nearly 638 million Indians — half the world’s 1.1 billion people without a toilet — live in India, according to a WHO-UNICEF report. 18% of urban Indians and 69% of rural Indians don’t have access to toilets.The report warned that public defecation is the “riskiest sanitation practice of all” and contributes to serious intestinal diseases. Related Itemslast_img

How Facebook Lost Face in India

first_imgWhen Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg visited India late last year, he made the mandatory trip to the Taj Mahal in Agra. Almost every foreign visitor to the subcontinent does so; the late Princess Diana had posed alone before the mausoleum when the British royal couple came to India in 1992. A few months later, she and Prince Charles separated.Zuckerberg also had himself photographed alone at the Taj. He posted the photograph on his Facebook page, accompanied by the comment: “It is even more stunning than I expected.”Today, a few months later, Zuckerberg finds himself estranged from his Indian constituency. His Free Basics initiative has been banned by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). Zuckerberg’s dream of being a pivotal part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India program has received a severe setback. And his target of “the next one billion” Facebook users — the first one billion was reached on August 24, 2015 — may have been postponed by months, if not years. (The first one billion is the number of people who logged on to Facebook on that day. It is different from the usually quoted monthly active users, which stood at 1.59 billion on December 31, 2015.)Considering the outpouring of support for the TRAI ruling in the Indian media and among opinion leaders, it may appear that the decision was inevitable. But it hasn’t always been so. There were some protests from technology experts when Internet.org was unveiled in 2013 as a program that would provide limited access to the Internet for free via the Facebook platform. There was more criticism when it was rebranded Free Basics in September 2015. But issues such as net neutrality were barely understood by the man on the street.Concept of Net Neutrality“The concept of net neutrality encapsulates the absence of any form of discrimination for net users including imposition of differential charges for accessing Internet content,” says Abhilekh Verma, partner at law firm Khaitan & Co. “While the argument favoring neutrality of the Internet is an important one, it is also important to note that, in India, Internet penetration leaves a lot to be desired.” Adds Vidya S. Nath, research director (digital media) at growth partnership company Frost & Sullivan: “TRAI’s verdict in favor of net neutrality in India is a reflection of what the majority of Indian consumers want. [But] while it sets the tone of consumer expectations in India, it also threatens to slow down the government’s vision of a Digital India.”Soumya Sen, professor of information & decision sciences at the Carlson School of Management, puts the matter in perspective. “Facebook’s Free Basics initiative … has been touted by the company as a way to bring free Internet access to billions of people who may never have access otherwise. The criticism has been that Free Basics is just a way to promote Facebook’s own interests and it paves the way for fragmentation of the Internet. This argument that the Internet will be fragmented between ‘the haves and the have-nots’ has been at the center of the netizen-driven opposition to Free Basics in India. It seems the ‘haves’ have decided that the ‘have-nots’ will be much better off with no access to the Internet than with partial access. In my view, the intended users should get to decide; no bureaucrats or self-appointed consumer advocates should deny them the right to join such a service.”Sen notes that if Facebook and its content partners “fail to offer useful content to users, then such a service will either fail or be forced to become more inclusive as a platform. One way to think about Free Basics is to use the analogy of 1-800 toll-free numbers in the telephone networks that allow businesses to subsidize users’ access cost. The principle of zero rating is the same mechanism now being realized in the context of data services.”Colossal Blunder“I am surprised that any country would be dumb enough to homogenize the Internet with no evidence of any benefit,” says Gerald Faulhaber, Wharton professor emeritus of business economics and public policy. “I’m afraid India has made a colossal economic blunder.“I am not now and never have been a fan of network neutrality,” Faulhaber continues. “To me and many others in Internet space, it has been a solution looking for a problem. There is no evidence that such a problem exists, but here we are regulating the Internet — just like we regulated the old monopoly telephone system — with no evidence that there is a market failure that would justify such regulation. Claims that Facebook’s Free Basics violates net neutrality may well be true, but if so that is simply evidence of how silly and anti-consumer net neutrality really is. Throughout the entire economy, all firms offer pricing and quantity discounts, special deals for long-time customers and/or not-well-off customers; it is perfectly accepted in virtually all businesses, and is part of how firms differentiate themselves from each other. It is an absolutely essential part of competition.”Faulhaber maintains that in the cases mentioned, customers can choose to get the Free Basics service or the full service, so customers have more choices. “In real life, only governments offer one-size-fits-all services: take it or leave it,” he says. “To force the Internet into this straightjacket is a disaster, to my mind, especially for poor people who otherwise would not have bought Internet services at all. How anyone can think that forcing less choice on customers, and disadvantaging the poor, is a good idea is beyond me.”According to Faulhaber, “It is claimed that such deals will discriminate against new entrants; this claim is made without any empirical proof whatsoever. It is quite unlikely to be true. New content entrants must usually differentiate themselves from incumbents to be successful, and doing a deal with ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to help differentiate is a great opportunity. Cutting this off, and forcing new entrants to offer the same plain-vanilla service as everyone else, is a recipe for service stagnation and innovation suppression. [However], this may work politically in India, which has a long history of central government control of the economy.”Digital Apartheid?Faulhaber’s views are widely shared by the Western media in sharp contrast to the opinion in India. “TRAI lets down millions by saying no to Free Basics,” notes The Huffington Post. “Digital apartheid,” counters the Indian media. “Internet.org was their earlier attempt at doing this,” writes venture capitalist Mahesh Murthy in a Linkedin post. “We’d pointed out even the name was a lie, as it was neither the Internet that was offered, nor was it done on a non-profit basis that dot orgs typically use. So they’ve changed the name to Free Basics and have come back to try shove it down our throats again. Same poison, new bottle but with a big ad campaign….”It’s the ad campaign estimated to have cost around Rs. 300 crore ($44 million) that seems to have turned opinion against Facebook and Free Basics. “Support a connected India,” said the two-page newspaper ads. Business daily The Economic Times quoted Futurebrands India CEO Santosh Desai: “It was a naked show of muscle power. It’s fair to say it was a mishandled campaign for a company that’s trying to launch a new initiative.” There were numerous complaints filed with the Advertising Standards Council of India.Simultaneously, in ham-handed PR efforts, the social media giant asked its user base in India — 125 million at last count — to email the TRAI that they supported Free Basics and “digital equality” for India. In a consultancy paper, TRAI had sought the views of the public on net neutrality. As the responses rolled in, all on the same template, TRAI was not amused. In a letter to Ankhi Das, director (public policy), Facebook India, the regulator wrote: The Facebook exercise “has the flavor of reducing a meaningful consultative exercise designed to produce informed and transparent decisions into a crudely majoritarian and orchestrated opinion poll.”Muscle power… crudely majoritarian… same poison and, to top it all, antagonizing the regulator — the folks at Menlo Park appeared to make every mistake in the book. Zuckerberg had met Modi twice to sell the idea of Facebook partnering the country in the latter’s vision of a Digital India; he may have taken his eye off the ball. And, after all, Free Basics had captured most of the underdeveloped world: its reach extends to 38 countries, the lion’s share in Africa.“The Indian population is deeply skeptical of hidden fees and other malpractices of their own cellular network companies with whom Facebook would have partnered,” says Sen. “Free Basics was viewed as a nefarious collaboration between a large social network, network providers and the regulators, designed to reduce competition and create ‘walled gardens’ in the Internet. Even if such a perception was misguided, it is ultimately Facebook’s failure to manage its public relations.”On Monday, February 8, TRAI came out with the Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations, 2016. In a 15-page ruling, it effectively banned Free Basics from operating in India. It left a window open, however. “TRAI will keep a close watch on the implementation of the mandate by the service providers and may undertake a review after two years or at an earlier date as it may deem fit,” says a clause in the order.“The issue is not black or white,” says Kartik Hosanagar, Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions. “There is no denying its potential to bring in masses online. At the same time, it is clearly anti-competitive. So the issue is nuanced. Weighing the pros and cons, I am supportive. Some connectivity is better than no connectivity. That said, I don’t think the long-term solution is to have a walled garden. So, while I am personally supportive of Free Basics, I understand TRAI’s decision. Facebook should have adopted the Android approach of providing an open mobile OS to manufacturers but pushing Google products through partnerships with carriers and some original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). In a similar way, Facebook could have provided a truly open service but pushed Facebook products through partnerships. That would neither violate net neutrality nor be criticized as a walled garden. But it would have been strategic for Facebook.”Breaking Barriers“While we’re disappointed with today’s decision, I want to personally communicate that we are committed to keep working to break down barriers to connectivity in India and around the world,” said Zuckerberg in a Facebook post. “Internet.org has many initiatives, and we will keep working until everyone has access to the Internet…. Connecting India is an important goal we won’t give up on, because more than a billion people in India don’t have access to the Internet. We know that connecting them can help lift people out of poverty, create millions of jobs and spread education opportunities. We care about these people, and that’s why we’re so committed to connecting them.”End of story, one would have thought. But another chapter was to follow more contentious than the first. After the TRAI ruling, Facebook director and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Marc Andreessen tweeted: “Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades. Why stop now?”Colonialism is still a sensitive issue for most Indians. In the 1700s, the country’s GDP was 24.4% of world GDP. After more than two centuries of legalized pillage (under British rule), it had shrunk to 4.2% at the time of Independence in 1947. Tweeted Murthy: “Now @facebook board director @pmarca [Andreessen] suggests being colonized was good for India and we should’ve let Fb [Facebook] do so.” Andreessen subsequently deleted the tweet and withdrew from the debate: “For the record, I am opposed to colonialism in any country.” Zuckerberg disowned Andreessen. “I want to respond to Marc Andreessen’s comments about India yesterday. I found the comments deeply upsetting, and they do not represent the way Facebook or I think at all.”Social Media ExplodesSeveral Indians found the comments deeply upsetting, too, and social media was filled with criticism. This was also because after a lot of mind-numbing techspeak on net neutrality, colonialism was something everybody could understand. The TRAI became a hero and the ruling was interpreted as standing up to the neo-colonizers.“Andreessen’s tweet was in poor taste and demonstrates a lack of knowledge regarding the matter,” says Sen. “Anti-colonial feeling was not the reason for the public’s opposition to Free Basics in India; the real reason was simply that a large portion of the Indian population did not buy Facebook’s pitch that Free Basics was an altruistic venture.”Sen doesn’t see the TRAI as the hero keeping out the MNC barbarians at the gate. “TRAI’s actions during this net neutrality debate deserve much criticism,” he says.“Its request for comments from the public goes to shows how apathetic the Indian government is towards the masses who were supposed to be the real beneficiaries of the Free Basics initiative. The online petitioners to TRAI clearly don’t represent the market segment that Free Basics was designed for.”“Zuckerberg and the leadership at Facebook must recognize the need to convince people in India and elsewhere that their Internet.org initiatives are more than thinly veiled efforts to expand the global market share of an American company,” says Kevin Werbach, Wharton professor of legal studies and business ethics. “Andreessen’s unfortunate tweet shows one of the problems with what can be called the Silicon Valley worldview. Technology startups and their advocates in the U.S. view themselves as innovating outside the bounds of geography, but the rest of the world often sees them as advancing American ideals and promoting American hegemony. It’s difficult for the Silicon Valley community to appreciate this, because they so often position themselves in opposition to governments in the U.S., as in the debates over surveillance and regulation of new services like Uber. There is a controversy about zero rating in the U.S., but it doesn’t involve the concerns about digital colonialism that were prominent in India.”Nath sees it from a consumer point of view rather than corporate. “The reality is that any Internet platform or application, which is limited in its offerings, is not acceptable to consumers today,” she says. “To offer limited services [and] equating it to the Internet is like telling the fish in a fish bowl that the bowl is a smaller version of the ocean. Companies need to understand that consumer experience and expectations are heightened for the Internet. ‘Free-anything’ is not necessarily a great strategy to build a large user base. For instance, we have not seen uptake of phones with free loaded songs, or free video sharing websites. For one YouTube that is widely used, there are thousands of video sites that are not accessed; for one Facebook, there are many free social media sites that are not remotely popular; and for one WhatsApp, there are thousands that are ignored. The focus of governments has to be on providing connectivity and the ability to access the Internet. This can be achieved in other ways. Free Basics provides an ecosystem of a few services. To put it in the garb of the Internet which is free, open and democratic is hyperbole.”It won’t be hyperbole, however, to say that Facebook has had a torrid time in India. On Monday came the TRAI ruling. On Tuesday, Andreessen made his infamous tweet about the virtues of colonialism. On Wednesday, an “ill-informed” Andreessen and a “deeply-upset” Zuckerberg made several attempts to douse the fires.Recently, the company announced that it was officially withdrawing Free Basics from India. On Friday, Kirthiga Reddy, Facebook India managing director and public face, said she was stepping down; the company’s first employee in India was planning to take her last bow. (For the record, Facebook said she was going to relocate to the company’s Menlo Park headquarters over the next six to 12 months and that she had had nothing to do with Free Basics.)In India, Facebook has clearly lost face in more ways than one. Related Itemslast_img read more

Baobab Trees Trace African Diaspora Across the Indian Ocean

first_imgIn the French novella The Little Prince, the titular prince comes from a very small asteroid planet called B612 where soil is full of baobab seeds. He tells the author that if left to grow, the baobabs would become so numerous and huge that they could make the little planet explode.On Earth, though, baobabs are quite the opposite. Anyone living in Africa where baobabs grow to enormous sizes would be able to tell you about the numerous benefits the trees provide for humans and animals.They would probably describe the marvelous generosity of its trunk and its hospitality to many creatures, and extol the hardy and light fruit pod with its deliciously powdery pulp and nutritious seeds that remain fresh and edible over long periods of time.But there is a mystery to baobabs, as they are also found in India. How did they get there? Our new research is starting to shed light on the answer.Where baobabs are foundAfrican baobabs (Adansonia digitata) are one of nine species of the genus Adansonia. The recently identified A. kilima, which occurs in the highlands of eastern and southern Africa, is very close to A. digitata and is sometimes considered within this broad species.Outside mainland Africa, there are six baobab species belonging to Madagascar, and one species in the Kimberley region of northwest Australia (known as the boab). The African baobab, though, is most widely distributed both in its home continent and in the neo-tropics where enslaved Africans were brought to work.Baobabs are found in different parts of the Indian subcontinent, and many of them are so voluminous that they could easily be several thousand years old. No one knows how they arrived in these places. A few studies on baobabs in India have speculated that the fruit pods may have floated across from Africa on ocean currents and washed up on the shores, or that they may have been brought over by Arab traders.How did they get to India?In a recently published study, we investigated how African baobabs were introduced to the Indian subcontinent by combining genetic analysis of baobab trees from Africa, India, the Mascarenes and Malaysia with historical information about different periods of Indian Ocean trade.We looked at the genetic material to identify the population source regions in Africa and see how these were represented in the baobabs in India, the Mascarenes and Malaysia. We then compared the regional relationships revealed by the genetic analysis with historical accounts of trade and interactions between Africa and these places to infer the pathways of dispersal.The genetic analysis produced very interesting results. First of all, it showed that the Indian baobabs were the same species as the African species Adansonia digitata, and that there was less genetic diversity in the Indian baobab populations compared to the African populations. This confirmed our hunch that the baobabs had not been in the Indian subcontinent long enough for the populations to diversify, and that their dispersal by ocean currents was less likely than introduction by humans.However, it also showed some of the Indian baobabs had private alleles that were not present in the African populations. This implied that they could have been from other African baobab populations and brought by humans to the subcontinent much earlier than assumed.Our second discovery was that there were multiple introductions of baobabs to the Indian subcontinent, and that these were not from just one, but several biogeographic regions of Africa.Although many of the Indian baobabs showed close relationship with populations from coastal areas of Kenya and Tanzania, there were some that showed closer relationships with baobabs from coastal and inland Mozambique, and also, surprisingly, from West Africa.The third revelation was that baobabs populations in particular places in inland Mozambique and coastal Tanzania belonged to different genetic clusters which meant that they had been brought to these places from elsewhere.Tracing connections and pathwaysWhen we combined these findings with archaeological and historical accounts of Indian Ocean trade, we identified four major periods during which Africans from different regions of that continent would have travelled to the Indian subcontinent and beyond to Southeast Asia.The earliest interactions go back more than 4,000 years ago, when African cereal and legume crops arrived in India from Sudan, Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa.The subsequent expansion of the Indian Ocean trade between Africa and India occurred through Swahili-Arab networks. The arrival of the Portuguese and the establishment of their colonial bases in Mozambique and western and southern India contributed to new flows of Africans between these places.And finally, we found that during the 18th and 19th centuries, the English and Dutch colonial authorities recruited soldiers from West Africa for regiments in southern India and Southeast Asia.In addition to this combined genetic-historical analysis, we found that the cultural practices and beliefs associated with baobabs in particular places in India showed striking similarity with those from specific regions of eastern and southern Africa.This led us to the marvelous realization that the geographical distribution of baobabs in the Indian subcontinent are living reminders of the long history of African diaspora across the Indian Ocean.We hope that when The Little Prince comes back for a visit from asteroid B612, we’ll be there to assure him that baobabs are the most wonderful trees on Earth and, if you sit by their side and listen carefully, they’ll tell you stories of people who have been forgotten in history books.– The Conversation. 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Love in The Times of the (Neo Indian) Literati

first_imgWhile the anti-Romeo squads patrol India’s largest state of Uttar Pradesh, nipping the buds of romance amongst youngsters, romantic novels are selling like hotcakes all across India.E-commerce company Flipkart’s list of top ten bestselling fiction books in India for 2016 lists five titles on contemporary romance, including Our Impossible Love by Durjoy Dutta, She Swiped Right Into My Heart by Sudeep Nagarkar and This Love, That Feels Right by Ravinder Singh, amongst other equally mushy titles. Likewise, Amazon’s recent list of Indian bestsellers features several romantic works. Savi Sharma’s romance novels This Is Not Your Story and Everyone Has a Story made the first and the third spot respectively and Durjoy Dutta’s The Girl of My Dreams and Ajay K Pandey’s titles You Are the Best Wife and Her Last Wish made it into the top ten.If that doesn’t say something about Indians and their insatiable appetite for romance fiction, two years ago, a 25-year-old small town girl from Ranchi, Nikita Singh, became one of India’s leading romance writer with books selling 20,000-25,000 copies. Singh who’s now based in New York, has written 10 novels since her debut book Love@Facebook in 2015. All her books including the latest, Like A Love Song, which is also released in the U.S., are in the romance category.The common thread binding this emerging genre of Indian fiction writing is that the stories are told in a simple, relatable manner and are often set in small towns and cities in India. The protagonists are mostly young girls and boys experiencing their first flush of romance and are caught balancing their life, careers, ambitions and family in a roller coaster ride of emotions that young love brings. Very often, the books are authored by first time writers, telling stories in straightforward, colloquial language. The easy-as-pie approach to story-telling, according to publishers, is attracting a slew of small town readers, who in the past were intimidated with the multifarious approach and variegated characters of Indian novelists, such as Arundhati Roy, Amitav Ghosh or Rohinton Mistry.However, this new writing fad also has its share of critics who denounce the dearth of depth and substratum in these new “love self-help style books.”Author Nikita Singh admitted that literary elites in India dismiss this form of writing, and their criticism was so strident that she had to limit her presence on Facebook to block out hate messages.The criticism notwithstanding, Indians have discovered a new found fascination with romance stories set in their soil and written by home grown authors.Booming Book MarketOn average nearly 85,000 new book titles are released in the country every year, most with marginal print runs. Nielsen’s India Book Market Report 2015 projects that the country’s book market will expand at a cumulative annual growth rate of 19.3 percent, almost tripling from $4 billion in 2015 to $11.5 billion by 2020. The growth is buoyed by rising literacy levels, which is expected to top 90 percent by the turn of the decade. A survey commissioned for the study found that an average Indian reads books 2.1 times a week. India is the second largest English language book market in the world with 9,000 publishers and books constitute the third largest e-commerce category, behind only electronics and clothing.Responsive WordPress YouTube Gallery PluginWordPress Gallery Free VersionThis is Not Your Story by Savi Sharma topped Amazon’s bestseller list in India.Photo: Mrdeezr/CCThe popularity of romantic mush comes as something of a surprise in a society so attuned to concealing romantic expressions. However, Orange County, Calif., based contemporary romance author Varsha Dixit is not surprised. Dixit who has written five bestselling novels in India says: “Entertainment for Indians whether by way of watching a movie or reading a book is a form of escapism. They want to read love stories that are feel-good and high on emotional quotient. It’s often as if to turn to something wistful to take a break from real life. And that does explain the popularity of this genre.”THE CHETAN BHAGAT EFFECT?There can be no denying that Chetan Bhagat, despite the criticism of his prosaic style, won over a generation of Indians who woke up to reading, until then associated as an intellectual hobby. His ripple effect launched thousands of writers telling wishy-washy stories of love, romance and friendships.Delhi based author Sreemoyee Piu Kundu who has written three books and has explored the genre of erotic writing in India says: “Indian writers writing in English is a popular trend today. Also more and more publishers are looking for the next Chetan Bhagat.”Dixit says, “Just as an author grows with every book, in terms of subjects and characters, the audience grows in their reading styles too.”Dixit, who wrote the first Indian love trilogy, cites her own example: “While my debut series was contemporary romance, my second was a first vampire sci-fi book in India. This was followed by an Indian American love story where I brought together the two worlds that I have grown up with. So as an author I am also going through a trajectory of topics. Similarly the new readers are taking up more readily to romance or stories set in small towns that speak to them, but the trend is bound to become more comprehensive.”The writers acknowledge that reading patterns of cultures vary. Dixit says: “A New York Times best seller list would mostly comprise of thrillers and heavy reading, while an Indian top seller usually would have fiction and romance. But that doesn’t mean that Indians are not reading or are not ready for other genres.”Author Piu Kundu agrees: “Today I feel there is an audience for a mature love story with a twist too. My erotica titled Sita’s Curse was hugely appreciated because they added a fresh take on romance.”She adds, “The chick-lit trend and of course the power of telling a love story to Indians of course did initially contributed to the popularity.”The growth of literary events, such as the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) and its knock-offs in smaller cities, signals that a growing young population is taking to reading Indian authors. Millenials attending the JLF were more enamored by the presence of the Indian author Amish Tripathi, who writes mythological thrillers, than such celebrated names as VS Naipaul and Paul Theroux.The fact that romance novels are pulling in sales exceeding 20,000 copies in a month says something about the interest amongst readers. The accessibility and the feeling of belongingness is also drawing new Indian readers.Dixit says, “I grew up reading Tom Clancy, John Grisham and Barbara Cartland, just like many other Indians of my age. But the fact is that when we read let’s say a Sidney Sheldon or other such authors from the West, it was as if we were peeping into another world. We didn’t necessarily relate with the stories or the locations, but today you have writers giving to readers a slice of their own life. My first book was set up in Kanpur, a city I grew up in and not Orange County, where I now live. It is natural for a reader in a small Indian city to relate with the nuances of a novel set in that backdrop.”The writers point out that although romance forms the central theme of these novels, other sub plots and important narratives are also woven through. A Nikita Singh novel, After All this Time, tells the tale of an HIV positive protagonist. Ravinder Singh’s debut novel, I Too Had A Love Story is a semi-autobiographical tale of his own breakup. Durjoy Dutta’s The Girl of My Dreams is an unusual story of a love lost, involving a protagonist who wakes up from a coma to learn that his girlfriend died and he is left with only a few memories of her, such as her name.Publishers having discovered a new reading middle class and are concentrating on mass market. The affordability of these paperbacks has helped expand the audience and created a rush of authors and publishers keen to cash in.But, Dixit warns, “There may be a lot of young story writers trying their luck at fame, but in the end the one who has some worth survives.”  Related Itemslast_img read more

Autistic New Zealand Woman’s Escape to India Leaves Family in Distress

first_imgThe father of a 24-year-old autistic woman from New Zealand, who ran away and came to India, has decided to seek the help of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj after Indian police said that they can’t force his daughter to go back. Jessica Doody, who is said by the family to have the mental age of 14, changed her name and flew out of the country even though a court order was in place against her flying out of New Zealand alone.“Jessica was autistic and had dyspraxia, which affected her ability to gauge social situations,” Jessica’s sister Sarah Doody told the Times of India, adding that Jessica has limited understanding of people’s intentions. “The family was apprehensive that she was not safe in India and if at all she disappeared we would never be able to get back to her,” Sarah said, the report added.The Indian police is reported to have said that she cannot be sent back since she is a major and has legal documents to travel.Jessica was traced by the Indian police to Patiala, where she is living with her boyfriend’s parents. Doody had fallen into a debt of $50,000 when she lived with her boyfriend in New Zealand. Her family believes that she was “brainwashed” into leaving New Zealand.Jessica flew to Patiala via Guangzhou on March 16, traveling as Kathleen Gray-Anttal, to be reunited with her boyfriend, Gurdeep Singh, aka Garry Anttal.Five agencies, including the Interpol, were involved in looking for her, reports said. Her father, Craig Doody, a broker from Christchurch, traveled to New Delhi to start searching for her. He was finally able to meet her on April 5.He was told that Jessica has been living with Singh and his parents in Patiala.“I was allowed to ask her five questions and she just said she was staying in India and that she totally hated the family,” Craig Doody told the NZ Herald. “I was blown away. I said, ‘Jess, why are you saying this? I’ve flown halfway around the world for you.’ It was pretty horrendous. She’s been brainwashed and I think she has been groomed. She’s madly in love with this guy and can’t see what’s happening to her,” he said.Jessica told the police that her father beat her and that she wants nothing to do with her family. He was allowed to meet Jessica only at the Patiala Police Station, where the Commissioner of Police was also present. He said that the police forced him to leave Patiala.“The whole situation is just a nightmare and sadly I have to pull out of Patiala without my daughter,” he said. “I’m really concerned for her safety – I have serious safety concerns.”He blamed the New Zealand government for failing Jessica.The New Zealand High Commission in New Delhi told Craig that the local police found Singh’s family living in a flat in Patiala.“Jessica said she’s been staying with his parents all this time and they’ve been lovely to her,” Sarah told the Herald NZ.Meanwhile, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that it was giving consular assistance to Craig. Related ItemsNew Zealandpatialalast_img read more

How Siddharth Dhananjay Rapped His Way To Hollywood

first_imgWhile he was making parody rap videos on YouTube, Siddharth Dhananjay never imagined that it would be his ticket to Hollywood. Born in India, brought up in Jakarta and now based in the United States, Dhananjay entered the industry with a bang through his debut film — Patti Cake$ — that was a hit at Sundance Festival 2017.Directed by American filmmaker Geremy Jasper, Patti Cake$ focuses on the quest of a woman in a dilapidated area of New Jersey, who aspires to be rapper. Dhananjay essays the role of her close friend, Hareesh.“Accidental Actor”Dhananjay was at the awkward age of 15 when he came across American rapper Pimp C, and felt he was the “coolest human on earth”. He was sure he wanted to follow his path. “I need to be Pimp C reincarnated,” he told Vice.The 21-year-old rediscovered rapping when he was in college. While studying philosophy and economics at Grinnell University, Iowa, he and his two friends decided to make a funny parody of Kent Jones’ Don’t Mind with their own lyrics for a student film festival. The rendition became an instant hit, following which he started making parody videos called Dhananjay the First.“People hate to admit it, but they watch the video hoping to hate on this rapper but end up finding it catchy and liking it,” he said in an interview with Scroll. It was these videos that caught the attention of director Jasper, who contacted Dhananjay, asking him to audition for the Patti Cake$ movie.Rapping in a convincing Jersey accent, Dhananjay won hearts for his portrayal of Jheri, a pharmacist who raps at night, in Patti Cake$. Talking about his performance, he told The Wire, “I don’t have any formal training, but I do listen to a lot of music, especially hip-hop, R&B, lots of that good stuff and am in tune with the rap world. I think a lot of that inspired me in terms of the performance. I just wanted to be as true as possible to this crazy character Jheri who is a pharmacist by day and rapper by night.”Calling himself an “accidental actor”, Dhananjay says acting wasn’t a part of his plan; it just happened.Rapper or actor?It was while doing the film that he realised that acting was something he enjoyed. “[…] I realised I never felt so good doing anything else in my life,” he told Wire. Even though his parody videos have become viral, he doesn’t call himself a rapper. “They are comic sketches at the end of the day. I never had any plans to be a rapper.”Patti Cake$ made him fall more in love with acting, and he now feels that he needs to keep going. If Hollywood hadn’t happened, he would still be a part of the acting industry, but in India.“After university, my plan was to move back to India. I’d have gone to Chennai, gotten into the Tamil film industry as an AD (assistant director) and worked under someone to figure out how things work,” he told Scroll. Long Way To GoSometimes the suddenness of it does make Dhananjay feel that he hasn’t earned the success. “I just made a bunch of funny videos. It only makes me want to work harder and do a good job of it,” Wire quoted him as saying. “I haven’t taken anything for granted. The scales are tipped against me.”He says Patti Cake$ was just the beginning. “I hadn’t felt so good doing anything else my entire life,” he told Scroll. “So I do want to keep doing it. You get into a new space and see the different sides to it, which makes you want to bite into it.” Related ItemsDhananjay Patti Cake$Geremy Jasper Patti Cake$Indian rapper Siddharth DhananjayIndian Youtuber Siddharth DhananjayKeywords: Patti CakesLittle IndiaSiddharth DhananjaySundance Festival 2017last_img read more

Indian American Pulled up in Bribery Conspiracy

first_imgA 39-year-old Indian origin man, Anuj Sud, who was also former commissioner of Maryland liquor board, has been indicted by US court on charges of soliciting bribes while on duty as a state government employee.Federal authorities had arrested Anuj Sud of Hyattsville, Maryland as part of the larger investigation about corrupt practices in Prince George’s County liquor board. The board has liquor store owners and legislators as its members.Case BackgroundSud was a licensed attorney in Maryland since 2005. The court documents states that in September 2015, Sud solicited favors from a lobbyist in exchange for his assistance to the liquor board matters. In subsequent meetings, Sud and the lobbyist also discussed about voting favorably for lobbyist’s clients in upcoming hearings in exchange for money. Sud proceeded to take favorable action on behalf of the lobbyist’s clients in two hearings. For this, he was given $1000 as cash. In addition, he received another $1000 for a case in November 2016. The court documents say that he voted for giving a restaurant a new liquor license and allowed business to sell alcohol on Sundays in exchange for money. For this offence, he would be facing a maximum sentence of ten years in prison.Sud resigned from the board after his arrest. Others who were arrested as part of the federal bribery probe include former liquor board administrator David Dae Sok Son and former state delegates Michael L. Vaughn and William Campos. Campos pleaded guilty while Vaughn has pleaded not guilty.Other Cases of BriberyThese cases of bribery are not entirely isolated. Last year, an Indian American businessman was charged for offering bribe to a city council member to obtain support for proposed fee increase for towing and vehicle storage. The indictment accuses Sukhbir Singh and his company of trying to “influence and reward” the city council member who was a “cooperating witness.”Singh was also pulled up for making false statements to the FBI in October where he said that he never discussed the proposed tow fee increase with city council member. The city Council member, as a cooperating witness, was working with FBI. According to the complaint filed, he gave a total of $2,650 in cheques to the city council member between August 2013 and March 2015.Again, last year Kamta Ramnarine, co-owner of an aircraft maintenance company was charged under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for his involvement in a $2 million dollar bribery case involving Mexican officials.According to the investigators, millions of dollars were paid in bribe in exchange for aviation contracts that placed other legitimate businesses at a disadvantage. Ramnarine made an admission of bribery and of conspiring to bribe several foreign officials to make sure that his company got aircraft parts and contracts from Mexican government owned customers. Related ItemsAnuj SudForeign Corrupt Practices ActKamta RamnarineLiquor BoardMaryland Liquor CommissionerSukhbir Singhlast_img read more

NRI Voice: Kampala a Home Away from Home

first_imgTeena Lakhani Rupani moved to the Ugandan city of Kampala soon after her marriage in 2012. Over the last few years she has transformed from being a stay-at-home mother to a successful beautician and henna designer.Rupani tells Little India about her journey from being a Mumbaikar to moving to Kampala and the adventures that she has been a part of in UgandaShifting Base from India to UgandaI got married in January 2012 and moved to Kampala as my husband, Samir Rupani, works there. He has been in Kampala for the last 15 years and has now become a resident of Uganda.As Kampala is teeming with Indians, I did not feel I was in a foreign environment. It, in fact, felt like a home away from home.The Indian community in Kampala celebrate all Indian festivals with great gusto and it’s a big part of our lives here. Indian festivals are open to all and we celebrate it with pomp and show. The festivities include varieties of stalls, cultural programs and fireworks.Acclimatizing to a New PlaceKampala is a beautiful city, but it hasn’t been easy acclimatizing here. Provisions for healthcare are not adequate and the weather only added to my problems. I often travelled to India for treatment and had to travel to India when I was pregnant for the second time.Starting a Business in KampalaTeena Lakhani Rupani with her husband Samir Rupani and their daughterI worked with Crane Bank, but was unable to continue after I was pregnant. I went back to India for the delivery and after I returned to Kampala, I decided to work from home, translating my passion for art into a profession. I have always loved creating beautiful designs with henna and realized there was a market for this art form in Kampala, considering the vast Indian population. Interestingly, it wasn’t just Indians who fell in love with henna designs, there are many takers for this art form. I have now worked with communities like the Africans, Americans, Iranians and even Russians.Getting clients was not tough, as many people had earlier noticed my work. Although there is competition, clients look for quality and have faith in my talents. Also, the social media has helped a lot in popularizing my work.Obtaining a Work Permit in UgandaI have to point out that the biggest hurdle one can face while working in Uganda is getting a work permit. It is a tedious process that can have anyone seeking a work permit here shelling out a lot of money.Lifestyle of Indians in UgandaIndians in Uganda, especially Indian women, have a very lavish lifestyle. Life here is very comfortable as maids handle all the chores of the household—from cleaning, dusting, laundry, to ironing and sometimes even cooking. They also take care of the children, so life is quite easy for housewives and women in Uganda. We pamper ourselves with regular pedicure, manicure and massage sessions that are pretty cheap as compared to the prices in India.Bringing up Children in UgandaI have to admit that bringing up children in this country is a task. School fees is a real pocket pinch–it is almost 1000 dollars per term. But when it comes to safety, Kampala is a better option than most other African countries.Missing HomeI miss India, especially because my mother lives there. Since I am a foodie, I miss Indian food and also the colorful markets of India. As I order all the products for my business like henna and other skin care products from India, I miss the convenience of purchasing things easily.  Related Itemslast_img read more

Florida Businessman Gets 25 Years in Jail in $179 Million Loan Fraud Case

first_imgIndian-American businessman Nikesh “Nik” Patel, who was charged with loan fraud of $179 million, was sentenced to 25 years in prison on March 6. U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras, who sentenced Patel, called him a “diabolical genius” for pulling off a fraud of this scale.Kocoras said in Chicago that this was the biggest fraud he had seen during his nearly four-decade career, the Chicago Tribune reported. “There’s a certain diabolical genius to what he did here,” Kocoras said.Apart from the $179 million fraud, Patel was accused of hatching another loan fraud, of $19 million, while he was out on bond. He was initially arrested in September 2014 for a fraud that he committed from 2010 to 2014. He pleaded guilty in December 2016 and posted bail claiming that he would help victims recover their money.Patel latest arrest was on Jan. 6, 2018 at the Gateway Kissimmee Airport. He was planning to escape to Ecuador, where he sought political asylum, and had planned to buy one of the world’s rarest diamonds for $35 million in “dirty” money.“It’s a little insulting,” Kocoras said. “His (U.S.) citizenship was the gift of his birth, yet he’s so quick to throw it away because he doesn’t want to face the piper.”According to the Orlando Sentinel, the prosecutors said in pre-sentencing filings with the court: “While on bond and awaiting sentence in this case, defendant devised a scheme to obtain fraudulent loans totaling approximately $19 million by impersonating an employee of Banco do [Brasil] and taking the identity of a legitimate financial institution.”Patel had previously admitted in 2016 that his company, Florida-based First Farmers Financial LLC, sold 26 fake loans to Milwaukee investment firm Pennant Management, which was forced to close, for $179 million and spent the money on real estate investments and an extravagant lifestyle.Pennant Management’s customers included Illinois Metropolitan Investment Fund, which lost $50.4 million. The Fund included money from 100 municipalities, 27 police and fire pension funds, 18 public school districts, 15 public libraries, 15 park districts, three community colleges and an airport authority. The University of Wisconsin Credit Union lost $52.9 million but didn’t close while Harvard Savings Bank closed after a loss of $18 million, according to the Orlando Sentinel.Patel had said that the U.S. Department of Agriculture guaranteed the loans, but the 26 loans did not have any actual borrower, no pre-existing loan and no government guarantee. Related ItemsfloridaFraudIndian Americanlast_img read more

India Ranked Above UK, U.S. in List of Friendliest Nations For Expats: Survey

first_imgIndia has been ranked as a friendlier nation for expats than the United States and the United Kingdom, according to a recent survey from InterNations. India appears at the 34th spot, ahead of America (36) and Britain (56). Portugal tops the list, with about 94 per cent of expats living in the country saying locals are friendly and helpful.InterNations is the largest global network and information site for people who live and work abroad. Data and comments from almost 13,000 expats from 188 countries were used to make the list of the friendliest countries in the world to live for expats. The list ranks 65 countries.India is placed behind countries such as Uganda (16), Romania (19), Indonesia (21), Israel (24) and Kazakhstan (28). The United States was ranked 19th in 2016, and the current list marks a huge slide for the country. According to the survey, three in five expats in the United States describe the locals as welcoming (59%) and outgoing (64%), while over one-third (35%) struggle with making local friends. Only one-fifth (20%) say that their friends are mostly local residents.As per the survey, 17 per cent of expats in the United States say that they do not feel at home there yet, and another 9 per cent doubt that they ever will.The United Kingdom fared poorer at the 56th place. Expats told InterNations that they find the British distant (42%) and reserved (58). Only 20 per cent expats are friends with locals in the country, while 32 per cent are friends with other expats.Ireland, at the 30th place, saw a stark contrast from four years ago when it was placed 23rd while the UK was at the 19th rank. According to survey, 22 per cent of foreign workers in Ireland said they are primarily friends with other expats, while another 37 per cent are mostly friends with local residents. Seven in 10 expats said they feel at home in Ireland.At 31st rank, New Zealand has dropped by 25 places from last year, when it was placed sixth. It is also the first year that New Zealand hasn’t made it to the Top 10. Dropping a few spots from its 34th rank last year, Australia sits at the 37th place. Only half of the expats in the country said they’d likely stay here forever and 43 percent said they found it easy making local friends.The Czech Republic, Finland, Austria,Switzerland and Kuwait fill up the bottom ranks, making them the least friendly countries for expats to live in. Top 10 Friendliest Countries for Expats:1.Portugal 2. Taiwan 3.Mexico 4.Cambodia 5.Bahrain 6.Costa Rica 7.Oman 8.Colombia 9.Vietnam 10.Canada Related ItemsexpatsInterNationslast_img read more

Gupta Family’s Compound Raided in South Africa, Again

first_imgSouth African police on April 16 once again raided the compound of controversial Gupta family in Saxonworld, Johannesberg, Premium Times reported. Authorities seized properties, cars and aircraft worth more than 250 million rand linked to the politically connected Gupta family. The assets included luxury cars, farms, residences, a helicopter and two other aircraft.The raid was a part of an investigation into fraud at the state-backed Estina farm dairy project in Free State province, National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku told the media. Estina Farm, which was meant to benefit black farmers, was allegedly used to siphon funds from the state.The raids were conducted by the Asset Forfeiture Unit, South African Revenue Services, the elite Hawks police unit and South African Police Services, eNCA reported.The NPA had obtained a restraining order to seize the Gupta family’s assets last week.The brothers, with their close ties to former President Jacob Zuma, has been accused of using their influence to gain control of state companies and appointments in cabinet. The South African media has called it “state capture.”Gupta and Zuma have maintained there has been no wrongdoing on their part.Meanwhile, Ajay Gupta is said to be behind the complaint that got South African businessman Justin van Pletzen arrested in Dubai last week, Huffington Post Africa reported. Gupta reportedly opened a case of invasion of privacy against van Pletzen.Pletzen had posted a video on social media that showed him confronting Ajay Gupta in the UAE city on April 4, following which he was arrested. What initial media reports believed the interaction took place outside the Indian consulate in Dubai, Gulf News later said that the video was shot outside the Business Atrium Centre in Oud Metha, where IVS Global, the outsourced agency for providing document attestation services to the Indian mission, is located.Sources confirmed to Gulf News that Ajay Gupta had indeed visited the agency’s office on April 4, and said that the fugitive South African businessman holds an Indian passport issued in Johannesburg and visited the IVS office for attesting some court papers to be sent to India.The family’s luxury jet plane Bombardier Global 6000 that was ordered grounded in a corruption probe last month flew back to South Africa on April 13, AFP reported. It landed at Lanseria International Airport in Johannesburg from Dubai with just two pilots on board, the news agency reported, citing airport’s operations manager Mike Christoph.The High Court in Johannesburg on March 19 had given the Guptas 15 days to hand over the luxury aircraft to the airport. It was grounded following a petition from Canada’s state-run credit agency EDC, along with Stone River, an insurance software company that had been leasing the plane to the Gupta family, after they defaulted on the payment of the $41 million lease fee. The bank expressed fears that the jet may be used for criminal activities. Related ItemsGupta FamilyJohannesburgSouth Africalast_img read more

Justin Brownlee gets Ginebra love in Alab debut

first_imgTrending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:02Fajardo predicts there will be no sweep in PBA Finals01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City Read Next MOST READ Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. LATEST STORIES 8th Top Leaders Forum assessed the progress of public-private efforts in building climate and disaster resilient communities Do not bring these items in SEA Games venues Playing for Alapag a ‘blessing’ for Balkman Asian shares slide on weak Japan data; US markets closed View commentscenter_img BI on alert for illegally deployed OFWs to Iraq Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC In a packed Filoil Flying V Centre, Brownlee was once again under the shower of the most famous chant in PBA history as he led Alab Pilipinas to a 90-79 win over Westports Malaysia in his first game in the ASEAN Basketball League.The “Gi-ne-bra!” chants echoed throughout the stadium especially when Brownlee had a hand in all of Alab’s eight points in its 8-0 run to end the third quarter at 68-63.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over Thunder“That was very special, I know I’m here in Alab, this is a great team, a great organization and a great company, and everything,” said Brownlee who finished with 29 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists.“It’s always going to feel great to hear that chant no matter where I am.” He may not be playing for Barangay Ginebra on Wednesday, but wherever Justin Bronwlee goes, the chants follow.ADVERTISEMENT Brownlee, who steered the Gin Kings to two PBA Governors’ Cup crowns, first hit two straight triples and dished to the open Renaldo Balkman for a soft flush to cap off the run.And playing alongside Balkman, who wasn’t just a PBA import but also an NBA veteran, was an opportunity Brownlee relished in his first game with Alab.“It was a great opportunity and an honor to be able to play for a guy like him,” said Brownlee of the former New York Knick. “He’s an intelligent player and playing with somebody like that with a lot of knowledge in basketball, and also a great guy, it’s a blessing for me and my career. I’ll definitely take advantage of that.”ADVERTISEMENT Kris Aquino ‘pretty chill about becoming irrelevant’ Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasalast_img read more

Morales picks up where he left off with another cycling victory

first_imgMorales beat fellow Standard Insurance rider Ronald Oranza at the line in three hours, 42 minutes and 55 seconds after the punishing uphill route covering 137 kilometers.Marcelo Felipe of 7Eleven Cliqq Road Bike Philippines placed third in the race where the winner earned an all-expenses paid trip in the PRU Ride in London in July plus P50,000 in cash prize.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutAside from Morales, businessman-sportsman and Standard Insurance chairman Ernesto “Judes” Echauz has also produced a pair of local champions in top-caliber runner Joey delos Reyes in duathlon and long-distance triathlon champion Monica Torres last year.It was also dominating performance last year for the 31-year-old Morales, who ruled the Ontario California Criterium Race in the United States, while emerging champion in the elite division of the 3rd Road Bike Philippines Sual Cycling Challenge in Pangasinan in May.“I can never accomplish these victories without the full support of our sponsor and my teammates,” said Morales, who is aiming for a third straight Ronda Pilipinas title this March. View comments Asian shares slide on weak Japan data; US markets closed With Morales, Oranza and Rudy Roque at the helm, the Philippine Navy-Standard Insurance cycling team had won the Ronda Pilipinas overall individual and team championships four years in a row.On the other hand, Torres, a perennial top local finisher in the Ironman 70.3 Philippines, is a long-time triathlete and duathlon star in the Standard Insurance stable, according to Echauz.“Because of her winnings both locally and internationally in the long distance events that she joins, she has also been regularly recognized by sports media organizations,” said Echauz.Torres topped the Powerman Asia Duathlon Championships—Malaysia 2017, last March.Emmanuel Commendador and Torres, both from the Philippines, dominated the top podium spots for the male and female elite category with a time of 02:48:36 and 03:04:11, respectively.ADVERTISEMENT Read Next Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics PLAY LIST 00:45Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH She also won the Tri-Sports 51.5 held in Ilocos Norte, also last March and grabbed the podium in the inaugural MusaMan Trt-DavNor 2017, a standard distance triathlon hosted by the provincial government of Davao de Norte, last June. Do not bring these items in SEA Games venues 8th Top Leaders Forum assessed the progress of public-private efforts in building climate and disaster resilient communities John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC BI on alert for illegally deployed OFWs to Iraq Federer in right space as Aussie Open rivals play catch up Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa MOST READ Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. LATEST STORIES On the podium from left to right: Ronald Oranza, Jan Paul Morales and Marcelo Felipe. June Navarro/INQUIRERThere’s no hint that Jan Paul Morales of Standard Insurance would slow down anytime soon.After capturing his second consecutive Ronda Pilipinas individual plum plus a couple of competitive local races last year, Morales ruled the men’s elite road race of the PRU Ride Philippine National Cycling Championships over the weekend in Subic and Bataan.ADVERTISEMENTlast_img read more