India teen student Suvir Mirchandani tells US how to save $400 million by changing font

A 14-year-old Indian-origin boy has come up with a unique plan that could help the U.S. save nearly $400 million a year by merely changing the font used on official documents.

Suvir Mirchandani, a student in a Pittsburgh-area middle school, claimed that if the federal government used the Garamond font exclusively it could save about $136 million per year, nearly 30 per cent less than the estimated $467 dollars it spends annually on ink.

An additional $234 million could be saved annually if state governments also implemented the change.

Mirchandani said the idea came to him when he was trying to think of ways to cut waste and save money as part of a science fair project at his school, CNN reported.

The youngster noticed that he was getting a lot more handouts than he did in elementary school and decided to figure out if he could minimise use of paper and ink.

While recycling paper was one way to save money and conserve resources, Mirchandani said little attention had been paid to the ink used on the papers.

“Ink is two times more expensive than French perfume by volume,” he said, adding that he then decided to focus his project on finding ways to cut down the cost of ink.

As part of his experiment, he collected random samples of teachers’ handouts and focused on the most commonly used characters such as e, t, a, o and r.

He noted how often each character was used in different fonts like Garamond, Times New Roman, Century Gothic and Comic Sans and then measured how much ink was used for each letter, using an ink coverage software.

From his analysis, Mirchandani figured out that by using the Garamond font with its thinner strokes, his school district could reduce its ink consumption by 24 per cent and in turn save as much as $21,000 annually.

He repeated his tests on five sample pages from documents on the Government Printing Office website and got similar results that changing the font would save money.

Mirchandani’s findings have been published in the Journal for Emerging Investigators (JEI), a publication founded by a group of Harvard students in 2011 that provides a platform for the work of middle school and high school students.

One of the journal’s founders Sarah Fankhauser said that of the nearly 200 submissions they have received since 2011, Mirchandani’s project stood out.

“We were so impressed. We really could really see the real-world application in Suvir’s paper,” Fankhauser was quoted as saying.

JEI challenged the teenager to apply his project to a larger scale, preferably the federal government, to determine how much real savings his idea could generate.

The government has an annual printing expenditure of $1.8 billion and implementing Mirchandani’s idea on such a massive scale was more challenging than a school science project, the CNN report said.

Media and public relations manager at the Government Printing Office Gary Somerset described Mirchandani’s idea as “remarkable” but said it was concentrating on saving money by publishing documents online instead of hard copies.

“They can’t convert everything to a digital format,” Mirchandani said.

“Not everyone is able to access information online. Some things still have to be printed. I recognise it’s difficult to change someone’s behaviour,” he said.

But “I definitely would love to see some actual changes and I’d be happy to go as far as possible to make that change possible,” he said.

Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade still in shadow of fresh criminal charges

Delhi: At a time when the United States and India are trying to move beyond a rift over an Indian diplomat’s arrest in a domestic worker case, news that charges against her had been dropped – for now – was greeted with a mix of scepticism and relief.
However US prosecutors said they might seek a new indictment against Devyani Khobragade, the deputy consul general who was arrested in December and charged with lying to investigators on the visa application for her domestic employee. Prosecutors did not provide a specific timeline
“The judge ruled there’s no bar to a new indictment, and we intend to proceed accordingly,” said a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, James Margolin.
It is unclear what would happen if the office of US Attorney Preet Bharara decided to re-indict the diplomat.
“Any re-indictment would only be for show since the government well knows this case is never going to be tried,” said Ms Khobragade’s lawyer, Daniel Arshack.
But beyond the shadow of fresh criminal charges, the diplomat still may face some snags. Indian newspapers are reporting that Dr Khobragade is being investigated by Indian authorities because her children allegedly have both Indian and US passports, which is illegal in India.
Dr Khobragade’s arrest, strip-search and indictment caused a firestorm in India and was widely viewed as unnecessarily harsh treatment by US law enforcement. The Indian government went to great lengths to show its displeasure, taking a series of retaliatory steps against the US Embassy in New Delhi – removing security barricades, launching an investigation into the visa status of employees at the American Embassy School and limiting the embassy’s distribution of imported alcohol.
On Thursday, Syed Akbaruddin, a spokesman for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, said he hoped that the judge’s ruling would bring the controversy to a close. But later in the day, the ministry issued a terse statement noting that the “judgement does not consider the merits of the case”.

Dr Khobragade, 39, was arrested outside her daughter’s school in December and charged with visa fraud and making false statements about the work agreement with her Indian maid, Sangeeta Richard. Dr Khobragade and her husband had brought Richard to the US from India to work as a maid and nanny.

In the January indictment, prosecutors alleged that Dr Khobragade had paid Ms Richard only $US573 ($635) a month – a “legally insufficient” wage – and made her work more than 100 hours a week. The maid eventually left Dr Khobragade’s home and sought protection from an activist organisation that helps victims of human trafficking. Dr Khobragade’s family has maintained throughout that the maid was well treated.
Shortly before the indictment, India transferred Dr Khobragade to a position at the United Nations, which gave her full immunity from prosecution.
Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that regardless of whether Dr Khobragade had immunity when she was arrested, her UN status at the time of the indictment mandated that the charges be dropped.
Dr Khobragade was expelled from the US in January.

Indian-American in immigration scam settles with US body

An Indian-American businessman and two Chicago based organisations will pay $15 million to settle charges of raising $158 million dollars from close to 300 investors as part of an immigration scam.The US Securities and Exchange Commission had charged Anshoo R Sethi, A Chicago Convention Centre, LLC (ACCC) and Intercontinental Regional Centre Trust of Chicago, LLC (IRCTC) for their roles in the scam.

The US SEC had in Feb 2013 complaint accused them of targeting foreign nationals who sought to invest in the US economy and gain a legal pathway to citizenship through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Programme.

The final settlement entered by a US District Court last week provides for joint-and-several liability for over $11.5 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest, subject to offsets for certain amounts refunded or credited to investors.

It also provides permanent injunctions against future violations of securities law and restrains defendants for twenty years from offering or selling securities issued by any of them or issued by any entity owned or controlled by Sethi, according to an SEC media release.

In April last year, the Court granted the Commission’s motion to return to investors the entire $147 million of principal that had been frozen pursuant to the SEC’s motions.

The agreed upon settlement resolves, among other things, the disposition of approximately $11 million in administrative fees paid by investors, which are the only funds remaining to be returned in order to make the investors whole, SEC said.

Fiji indian Monika Chetty ended her life by begging and spending her final moments in the bush – Sydney, Australia

For the last year of her life, Monika Chetty lived rough in suburbia, despite suffering horrific burns. How did this mother of three from a good family end up in such a state?
“Her whole back was black” … The western Sydney bush reserve where Monika Chetty spent her final months.
“Her whole back was black” … The western Sydney bush reserve where Monika Chetty spent her final months. Photo: Wolter Peeters
The call came to Green Valley police late one Friday in January 2014. Throughout Sydney’s west, people were preparing for the year’s first weekend, but in Ferraro Crescent, West Hoxton, a newish community of land-and-home packages and multiple cars, not everyone was settling into the languor of mid-summer.
A resident had become suspicious of a woman hovering around bushland abutting one stretch of the street. For a year, she had been seen near the local playground, cleaning herself at a tap or collecting washing from a stretch of barbed wire as suburban life bustled around her. She wore long tops and pants and her hair was obscured by a cap, but it was clear she was scarred. There were marks on her face and bandaged hands, and the hair that protruded from beneath her cap appeared to be just fuzz.
She was conspicuously anonymous, her air of destitution so improbable in this neighbourhood of drive-in, drive-out residences, and she might have been homeless had it not been for the sightings of her shuffling down the side path of one local house, where onlookers presumed she was staying. She had a habit of dragging around black garbage liners, and at least one resident, concerned she was doing something sinister, had considered calling police. But until January 3, no one did.
“She was smart, funny” … Monika Chetty, before her life went downhill
“She was smart, funny” … Monika Chetty, before her life went downhill
Late that afternoon, a resident heard a call for help from the bush. At 7pm, two general duty officers waded into the overgrowth, just beyond a patch of discarded bikes and tyres, and found the woman, in tracksuit pants and a beanie at the height of summer, lying behind someone’s back fence on an old patch of concrete. As police helped her to her feet, her long-sleeved top shifted.

“Her whole back was black,” says Green Valley police superintendent James Johnson. His officers were horrified at the extent of the woman’s disfigurement, so severe that just by looking at her they could not even be sure she was who she claimed to be. “From the eyebrows up, she had no hair. It had all been burnt off.”

She said she was Monika Chetty and that someone had thrown acid on her in a Liverpool park days earlier – the latest in an uncannily dire series of events that had left her with shocking burns on at least two prior occasions. Her skin, which looked dirty, was actually charred. Yet her cries for help had nothing to do with the excruciating pain she must have been enduring: she simply needed a hand getting up.
Monika Chetty with her school friend Shelly Zammit (at left) in 1990.
Future imperfect … Monika Chetty with her school friend Shelly Zammit (at left) in 1990.
With a level of stoicism that seemed super-human, she had been living rough in the middle of suburbia, without medical attention, despite full-depth burns to 80 per cent of her body. Horrifically disfigured and homeless, at 39 her existence seemed to have been reduced to the garbage bags she habitually hauled around with her.
Yet even in her abysmally reduced state, she had quietly managed to maintain some of the accoutrements of 21st-century life: a mobile phone, a bank account, a Facebook page. They provided some of the few enduring links to who she had been.
She had the most contagious laugh,” says Rani Thind, a warm, 30-something woman who, having spent several periods helping homeless people, still cannot believe that a friend of 24 years could have fallen into this category. “She was always bubbly, always had a smile.”
Monika Chetty, aged 14.
Monika Chetty, aged 14. Photo: Supplied
Monika Chetty came into Thind’s life in her early teens, when she was still Monika Prasad and dreamed of love and domesticity. They met as school girls through mutual friends. “She talked about growing up, getting married, having a home, having children.”

Born in the Fijian town of Lautoka, Chetty arrived in Australia as a teenager with her parents and her sister, Mohini, in 1988, another family joining the exodus from post-coup Fiji, and settled in western Sydney. She attended Burwood Girls High in years 9 and 10 and finished her schooling in Blacktown, where her parents opened a corner store.
She and Thind shared similar ambitions. “You know, those girly dreams that you have when you are young: a happy home, a husband who kisses you goodbye when he goes to work in the morning. She was at my wedding and danced all night. She was always saying that she was so excited about getting married and having all that.”
Insurance advisor Anujay Singh, who met Chetty through his cousins around the same time, remembers a nice young woman who loved dressing up. “She was smart, intelligent, a good girl – funny, with a great sense of humour.”

She attended TAFE and studied business administration, and by 19 she was married. Her idealised life seemed to have begun. But the union did not last.
At 23, she married again. Her second husband, Ronald Chetty, had spotted her at a party. “She was quite friendly and talkative and was open-hearted; she was a very cheerful person,” he says now.
They were married in 1998, and with her mix of warmth and assertiveness she assumed the role of homemaker, eventually presiding over a family of three children. “She was the boss,” says Ronald. “She was making all the decisions, and we had a good time.”
Like many others, their union was sometimes patchy, but Ronald seems to have tried to please his wife. “He looked after her like a queen,” says Shelly Zammit, who was a year ahead of Monika Chetty at school. “He did everything for her. He paid all the mortgage, he paid the bills and if she didn’t want to work, he said, ‘That’s fine.’?”

Chetty had been a shop assistant at Myer and Target earlier in her career, and she worked for a time as a nursing aide in Fairfield after the births of her two sons. But with the advent of parenthood she was mostly at home, living in a comfortable three-bedroom place in Bonnyrigg, with no outward indication of the darkness that was to come.

By 2007, “she still seemed to be quite a together person”, says Thind. She enjoyed family day trips and picnics, and spent time with her children and her friends and their children, although the complexities of family life were sometimes straining. She had become gloomy about her sometimes-rocky marriage, but was determined it would survive. “She wanted it to work out for the kids as well, so that she and their father were together for them,” says Thind.
“Sometimes she was unhappy,” says Zammit, who was always struck by her friend’s fierce independence. “It wasn’t the husband; it wasn’t the kids she was unhappy [about]. It was something about her. She would never ask for help. She thought she could look after herself. She didn’t need anyone.”
Eventually, however, the marriage ended. “When the third child was born, she wasn’t happy,” says Ronald Chetty. “I was home and she said, ‘It’s not going anywhere’ … And I said, ‘Why, what’s wrong?’ And she didn’t say anything.”

Her husband was left to assume that money was a contributor to their marriage breakdown. “She wasn’t working and probably I wasn’t earning that much to entertain her,” he says. In 2008, she moved out with her two primary school-aged sons and infant daughter, and moved in temporarily with her father, Jitendra, and sister in Blacktown. (Her mother had died several years earlier.) By 2009, she was divorced.
In her early 30s, Chetty was now a single mother living at first off Centrelink benefits and later from her cashier’s job at a fruit market. After several months, she moved into a Toongabbie flat and the children would see their father at weekends. There was still a semblance of domesticity to life, but already its once measured rhythm was shaky. Chetty fell out with her father and sister. She developed breast cancer. Soon the tensions of her complicated life were overwhelming.
In late 2010, she contacted her ex-husband. “It was the last day of school,” he recalls, “and she rang me and said, ‘Can you have the kids for a while?’ because she didn’t have a place to live.” She had been given notice after failing to pay rent, but promised to take the children back once she was settled in a housing commission place. Ronald Chetty had no reason to disbelieve her: “She was always a good mother.” But even a plan this simple would prove to be wishful thinking.
Away from her immediate family, Chetty’s movements, like her welfare, became unclear. A photo taken in October 2011 shows no signs of scarring, but as that year morphed into 2012, she was becoming increasingly distant from those who had once been among her closest circles.

She phoned her children at least weekly when they first returned to live with their father. But within a year her calls had become sporadic, and the gap soon spanned months.
In late 2011, she called her ex-husband asking for money. They met at a car park near his Fairfield home and he was shocked: “If I saw her on the street, I wouldn’t have known who she was.” Her face and neck were blistered, her hair was gone, even her skin colour had changed. “She was very dark, and wasn’t well at all.”
Chetty provided few details. She said she had been burnt by a car radiator on a freeway, and that her hair had fallen out from chemotherapy. But that was not all that disturbed her former husband. He had started hearing that she was asking strangers for money in nearby suburbs: Fairfield, Parramatta, Cabramatta. The location kept changing, but the thrust of the rumours did not. This was not the woman he knew.
Chetty was broke. On her own and impoverished, she began begging, an especially difficult proposition for a woman who had been so fiercely independent. Her plight was made more difficult by the way she now looked, so badly scarred on at least her face and hands, sometimes wearing bandages, that no outfit seemed to completely hide the external signs of the hardships she was enduring.
By December 2012 she was working through a list of potential helpers when she phoned Anand Kumar, a family friend for 20 years. After several calls, he finally agreed to see her. They met in January 2013 on the footpath outside his home (she had refused to come inside, saying, “You might get scared if you see me”) and Chetty’s head was covered and her hands were burnt. She mentioned the car radiator and Kumar did not inquire further. He gave her $200 and did not help her again.
Around the same time, Chetty also contacted Jarvis Prasad after 15 years. They were friends in their early 20s, and Prasad was astonished that she now wrote to his brother on Facebook, then phoned Prasad himself. “How come she called me after so many years?” says Prasad. “I thought she must be really desperate.” Chetty avoided answering how she was, saying only that she needed $100. For someone frantic for money, it seemed a surprisingly paltry amount.
Prasad was happy to help. “I told her I would meet her anywhere; I wanted to see her.” But she never showed up, leaving Prasad so unsettled – by her dire financial state and her refusal to meet him – that he contacted other old friends, among them Rani Thind. Around March last year, Thind phoned her schoolmate and said she could move in.
Chetty sounded desperate. Although Thind had heard she was living in a car, she claimed to have secured a housing commission spot in Liverpool. What she really needed, she said, was $500 in her bank account to stop her car being repossessed. Thind did not have the money. “But I said, ‘Come and see me and I will talk to the car company and come up with some kind of arrangement with them.’ And she said, ‘No, no, I have an arrangement that I have to pay them and they won’t give me any more time.’?”
Thind thought Chetty’s response was odd. “If you are in a situation where you are really desperate and someone you knew since you were kids was giving you a place to stay … it surprised me that she didn’t want to come and see me … She wouldn’t even meet.” Their friendship had always seemed open, but now Chetty was intensely secretive. “She wouldn’t give me an address. She wouldn’t give me anything. She said she would call me, but she didn’t. I tried to call her over and over.” But Chetty never answered her calls again.
By early 2013, Chetty was frequenting West Hoxton. She had told her children’s father that a woman she called “Aunty” lived there and that she had been helping her but, as ever, she provided scant details. Her presence on Ferraro Crescent, however, was noted.
“I could hear her crying in the bush late, late at night,” says resident Giola Motti. “I used to wake my husband up and I would say, ‘Can you hear that?’ and he’s going, ‘It’s just cats’, and I said, “It’s not cats, that’s a human cry.’?”
Around March, Motti first noticed Chetty hovering around the bush carrying garbage bags. Sometimes she would move them from outside a nearby house, where Motti assumed she was staying, to the bush reserve. Each time Chetty was covered head to toe. Then, late one hot night as she went for a run, Motti spotted her in a small green car parked a few houses away. A streetlight was shining on her, but Chetty seemed oblivious as she sat in the front seat in a singlet.
“She had massive gouges, like her skin had been burned down to her cheekbones,” says a horrified Motti. “It looked like she had just come back from war. All I could see were craters. Everywhere, her skin, her arms … it was like something out of a horror movie.”
Still, Motti did not alert anyone to what she had seen. Chetty had been going to the property a few houses away. The residents there, Motti figured, must have seen her. Surely that meant she wasn’t homeless?
By the time Jameel Ahmed and his wife, Firoza, saw her at Carnes Hill shopping complex in May 2013, Chetty’s scarring was noticeable even from a distance. “You could see that she was in trouble,” he says. “She was looking for help.” As Chetty left her car and approached the couple for money, Jameel Ahmed began to learn about the unlikely unravelling of her once ordinary life.
With her belongings in storage, she told them, she had left a women’s refuge in Liverpool after some youths tormented her, and for several months an Indian-Fijian woman had given her shelter and money and the chance to work as a cleaner. When that had started to impinge on the woman’s family life, the woman had bought her the cheap car that now doubled as her bed.
Chetty’s existence was unrecognisable from the comfortable life she had known so recently. She was still in the suburbs, but now she wandered by day as far afield as Liverpool and Parramatta. She spent her nights, friends heard later, sleeping on back verandahs if she was lucky, or more often in her car, which was both a saviour and a curse. She said she had been badly injured opening the radiator cap, then the bonnet had fallen on her hands. She had been burnt another time by hot cooking oil, on both occasions receiving medical help. Still, the indelible legacy of those accidents was apparent each time she stepped beyond the shadows.
Yet she seemed most troubled by money. At the car park, Ahmed gave her cash and later transferred more to her bank account, around $500 in all. Over several ensuing phone calls, he also directed her to a Hindu temple and found her a job in a Parramatta restaurant. But again she declined all but monetary help. “She felt embarrassed and non-presentable. She looked disfigured … I can’t blame her,” says Ahmed, whose persistence eventually waned.
“I felt frustrated because she never sought [out] all those avenues I presented to her,” he says. “She was not helping herself.” But he remained so deeply affected that he emailed community leaders in late May, feeling then that “if she doesn’t find shelter and doesn’t get back on her feet again, she is going to end up in a worse situation than she is now”.
Ahmed’s letter spawned the first of several email chains among Sydney’s Indian and Fijian communities. In May 2013, Dr Yadu Singh, president of the Indian Australian Association of NSW, found Chetty at the same shopping complex, covered up in long clothes and a cap, her hands bandaged. “I didn’t feel that she was in health troubles because she was walking around,” says Singh, a cardiologist. “I didn’t see anything that said she was in fear, at that time at least.”
She told him she was okay and needed no help, so he offered no more. “If a person says, ‘I am okay’, you have to walk away, you can’t intrude.”
Several other community members also spoke to her. One offered her the use of an office space. Another said he might be able to assist with a job, food and clothing, and would even help her approach Centrelink, her own direct efforts having apparently failed. But she resisted them all.

Chetty’s movements over the following months are unclear, although she was spotted in various suburbs of western Sydney with obvious injuries. At a Liverpool street function one night in October, bandaged and heavily clothed, she approached a man for money. As he handed her $10, he failed to recognise her as his wife’s cousin.

By January 2014, Chetty had become a ghoulish site around West Hoxton, an unknown but non-threatening presence in Ferraro Crescent. “My kids would say, ‘That scary man is up at the park again’,?” says Joanne Malloch, who lives with her extended family on a curve of the street just beyond the bush reserve.
For half a year, her husband, Joseph, had noticed clothes and towels strung out on a nearby barbed-wire fence and had often seen a short person shuffling on the footpath. But it was not until late afternoon on January 3 that Joanne Malloch drove past Chetty, who appeared to have a surgical mask on her face, and spotted the horrific burns.
Malloch did not contact anyone about what she had seen. But within a couple of hours, her neighbour Giola Motti did. On a recent early morning run, she had stumbled upon Chetty sleeping in the bush. “I thought she was dead. She was just lying there covered in old clothes. I coughed to make some noise and she sort of rustled around and picked her stuff up and started going.”
Having repeatedly seen the woman moving bags into the bush, Motti was convinced she was up to no good.
Chetty was meant to see her children on January 3. She had phoned her former husband in the morning, not having hugged her sons and daughter in close to a year, and had made a loose arrangement to visit them at home some time after 6pm.

Instead, she found herself trapped on a rough bit of land in someone else’s neighbourhood, her isolation shattered by the arrival of emergency crews. She was quiet and reserved as police helped her stand. They called an ambulance when they saw her horrific wounds and only then did she become upset, insisting vehemently she would not go to hospital. She did not say why. She was moved to a specialist burns unit and the difficult task of saving her from the wounds that had not seemed to trouble her began.

With no idea who had caused her injuries, or even if acid had been thrown, police launched an investigation. That night they began to circulate an old photograph of Chetty in the hope that someone might reveal the source of her wounds. “I looked at the picture of her in the paper and it was actually nice to see,” says Green Valley Police crime manager, Detective Inspector Brendan Bernie, who was on duty that evening. “If you saw what she looked like [on January 3] and you saw the face as it appears in that photo, you couldn’t say that they were the same people.”
Chetty’s fate morphed into a collective burden. Another chain email began circulating among community members wondering how to help her. Within days, more than 150 names were on the list. After all this time seemingly alone, a circle began to re-form around her. Her former husband, Ronald, and her eldest son, now well into his teens, visited her in hospital, where she was eventually placed in an induced coma. Her elderly father, Jitendra, and her sister, Mohini, from whom she had been estranged, became key links for the health and community officials working towards her recovery.
But before any semblance of a future could be planned, Chetty died. After the isolation of her final months, the grief at her demise was collective and audible. Her death, on January 31, was announced on local Hindi radio. Close to 150 people attended her funeral: women in saris, men in white business shirts, her father and sister, her children and their father, old school friends, community leaders and a minibus load of young men dressed neatly in high-school uniforms.
Chetty’s elderly father was especially distraught. The day after the funeral, as he went to collect his daughter’s ashes, he suffered a suspected stroke.
He was rushed to hospital, but died later that day.
Police are unsure about much of Monika Chetty’s demise. They don’t know why she chose Ferraro Crescent, with its tract of supposedly snake-infested bush, to spend her final nights. Her endless need for cash is also unclear, given the regularity with which she was helped. “I don’t think she was starving, because of the amount of people who gave her food and coffee,” says Green Valley police’s James Johnson.

But her death has dispelled some of the myths that accumulated as she moved quietly through suburbia. The garbage bags that worried some residents contained nothing more than clothes. What remained of Chetty’s former life had become confined to the inside of those flimsy liners, and the house in Ferraro Crescent where she had been allowed to store some things. An occupant of the house refused to be interviewed for this story, but Johnson says the residents there also fed her. “They did take a little bit of care of her as neighbours.”

Chetty left other bags around West Hoxton, presumably for safe-keeping. But like her former life, nothing was guaranteed protection in the end. A neighbour found some of the clothes-filled liners in the bush and, figuring they were rubbish, threw them away.

Monika Chetty’s life, once hopeful and unexceptional, ended bitterly and prematurely. Old friends and family still struggle to reconcile her final months with the laughing young woman who loved dressing up like a Bollywood star.
“What happened to her?” wonders former husband Ronald Chetty, ruling out whispers about drugs and depression. “She was a very, very nice person when I met her. She was still a very nice person when she left me. And in the last two-and-a-half years, I don’t know what happened. No one can tell me.”
Rani Thind desperately wants her old friend to be remembered for who she was for the bulk of her 39 years, and not just at the end. “She was alive before everything went wrong. She was asking people for money and she was living on the street. This is not the person that she was. It feels like a stranger.”

NGA (National Gallery of Australia ) refuses to return $US5m Shiva statue despite evidence it was stolen from Indian temple

The National Gallery of Australia will continue to resist returning the Dancing Shiva statue it purchased for $US5 million from disgraced antiquities dealer Subhash Kapoor in spite of damning evidence that it was stolen from an Indian temple and in the face of an official request for its return from India’s High Commission.
The Chairman of the NGA Council, Allan Myers, QC, said the gallery would wait for the processes of the law to take place before deciding whether to send the statue back to India.
The Canberra-based gallery’s failure to adequately check the ownership history of the statue and other items purchased from Mr Kapoor’s Art of the Past in New York has also been sharply criticised in a report aired on ABC1’s Four Corners on Monday.

Antiquities dealer Subhash Kapoor is currently on trial in India for looting. Photo: Supplied
Arts Minister George Brandis said: ‘‘The due diligence standards of the NGA which are very high, in fact are world’s best practice, were not in my view sufficiently complied with on this particular occasion.’’
Senator Brandis said the decision to buy the statue for $US5 million in February 2008 was ‘‘incautious”.
‘‘There couldn’t have, in my view, been a sufficient level of confidence in the provenance of the object to make the decision to acquire it at the time appropriate,’’ he said.
But the chairman of the NGA Council, Allan Myers QC, defended the gallery’s procedures, including its failure to contact the previous owner of objects it purchased from Mr Kapoor, who is currently on trial in India for looting.
‘‘The usual processes of the gallery to investigate provenance were undertaken and they’re very detailed and they were adhered to in this case,’’ he said.
The Art Gallery of NSW also holds a number of Indian artefacts purchased from Mr Kapoor, including a stone sculpture of the God Ardhanarishvara bought for $300,000 in 2004 and which was almost certainly stolen from a temple.

The gallery’s director Dr Michael Brand appeared to indirectly criticise the lax procedures of the gallery under his predecessor Edmund Capon, who presided over the purchase of several items from Mr Kapoor between 1994 and 2004.
‘‘I think the best answer there is that they would not have passed our current acquisition policy but again I’m not going to comment on decisions made by my predecessors,’’ Dr Brand said.
But it is the Canberra-based NGA that is under attack, along with its director Ron Radford and senior curator of Asian Art Robyn Maxwell, for the debacle over its purchases of almost certainly looted Indian artefacts.
One month prior to the purchase of the Shiva, the NGA received independent legal advice that there was no evidence to prove the origin of the object and suggested it could have been looted from a temple.
“I am unable to determine whether or not the object was legally or illegally exported from India. The absence of official documentation suggests that the object was exported without compliance with that legislation,’’ said cultural heritage law expert Shane Simpson.
Four Corners stated that the gallery sought telephone advice from an Indian antiquities expert who denies he advised the NGA to buy the statue.
Both the NGA and AGNSW also largely ignored an Indian research institute that keeps meticulous records of the contents of temples in southern India prior to their spending sprees on antiquities that would have shown the ownership records provided by Mr Kapoor were false.
Four Corners also stated Mr Kapoor also allegedly made a confession in 2012 while in police custody although he has otherwise proclaimed his innocence.
Fairfax art critic John McDonald told Four Corners that galleries had an obligation to thoroughly check the provenance if they wanted to ‘‘buy in this very dangerous area’’.
‘‘To me it’s extraordinary that museum professionals can acquire Indian objects or Indian artefacts in this day and age and not seriously check the provenance.’’

Anonymous NRI from Texas pays for operation on 10-month-old’s heart

A good Samaritan from Texas offered to pay R1.2 lakh to clear Baby Sakshi’s blocked arteries, which will help her lead a normal life
Hours after mid-day reported that 10-month-old Sakshi Acharya required two surgeries to fix a hole in her heart and clear her blocked arteries, a person offered help from halfway across the globe.
Sakshi’s operation is scheduled for tomorrow, in which the doctors will clear the blocked arteries, which will allow free flow of blood to her lungs
Sakshi’s operation is scheduled for tomorrow, in which the doctors will clear the blocked arteries, which will allow free flow of blood to her lungs
On Sunday, this newspaper had reported that the first surgery of the infant would cost Rs 1.2 lakh, an amount her security guard father and sales executive mother simply did not have.
The NRI from Texas, USA, who requested anonymity, reached out to this reporter and took the details of the case, including contact information of her parents and the doctors of Jupiter Lifeline Hospital in Thane.
“Though I’m not originally from Mumbai, I’ve spent some time working and living in Powai and make it a point to read mid-day online to keep in touch with the news of the city,” said the man who has been working for an energy company in Texas for the last eight years.

By Monday afternoon, he transferred the entire sum for the first operation to the hospital account. Dr L Srinivas, a senior surgeon at Jupiter Lifeline Hospital said that the hospital has been flooded with phone calls from people willing to help Sakshi and her parents.
“Since the entire amount has been taken care of by the generous donor, we have politely declined other offers. We have asked Sakshi’s parents to admit the child today; her operation will be tomorrow.” “I have always heard stories of how kind-hearted Mumbaikars are, and now I can confirm it’s true.

We can now look forward to see Sakshi lead a normal life,” said Manoj Acharya, her father. Manoj added that they also received a cheque of R25,000 from another individual, which they returned.

Gay NRI bank worker in London kills wife to hide sexuality

A Court in England has been informed about a gruesome murder of a newly married Indian bride by her gay husband who wanted to hide his sexuality.
Prosecutor Deborah Gould informed the Wolverhampton Crown Court on Wednesday that gay Indian bank worker Jasvir Ram Ginday attacked and strangled his wife Varkha Rani with a metal pipe from a vacuum cleaner following which he burnt her body in the garden incinerator.
The Court was also told how Ginday bragged to his neighbour about setting “general rubbish of his home” on fire.
When the police got to the scene and lifted the lid of the metal incinerator, they saw the remains of a skull.
Ginday and his 24-year-old wife Rani got married in India in March 2013 and moved to UK last August after being granted a visa.
Ginday however was gay and have been in relationships with men since 2008
Ms Gould informed the Court that the hard drive from Ginday’s computer showed internet searches and information on incinerators just a month before Rani’s death on September 12.
Ginday – a resident of Walsall in West Midlands was arrested in September after police discovered the unrecognizable remains of his wife.
Ms Gould told jurors at Wolverhampton Crown Court “Despite his sexual orientation, in October 2012 the defendant and his mother travelled to India to find him a wife. He met Varkha Rani, shortly before his return to the UK through the intervention of a match-maker, who was known to both families. No doubt to Varkha’s family he appeared to be a perfect match for their intelligent, well-educated, and attractive young daughter.”
Ginday had initially told the police his wife had walked out on him after ‘using’ him to gain entry to the UK.
Police however found that Ginday had bought large quantities of petrol on September 12.
Ginday was hoping that Rani’s remains would be taken away by the garbage collectors. Instead the police got their hands on it.
When the police questioned him about what was burning in his garden, Ginday allegedly told officers it was ‘ashes’ before correcting himself and saying ‘no, I mean leaves’.
Rani’s father, Surjit Singh told the jury he was completely unaware of his son-in-law’s sexual orientations.

Ginday denies a charge of murder but has admitted manslaughter and a further charge of perverting the course of justice by lying to police.

UAE Exchange COO Sudhir Shetty Conferred NRI of the Year Award

Y Sudhir Kumar Shetty, COO – Global Operations, UAE Exchange, has been chosen for the NRI of the Year Award in the Professional category. The award is in honour of those individuals, who have achieved high level of success in leading an organisation as an employee. This is the first ever edition of these awards instituted together by ICICI Bank – India’s largest private sector bank and Times Now – India’s No.1 English news channel from Times Group. The award ceremony was held in Mumbai, India, on 24 March, 2014.

“I feel extremely honoured.” beamed Y Sudhir Kumar Shetty, COO – Global Operations, UAE Exchange. “I am thankful to the jury, who considered me worthy of qualifying for the award and I am grateful to each one, who voted for me online.”

Y Sudhir Shetty, a Chartered Accountant and a Law Graduate, has been heading UAE Exchange, the leading global remittance and foreign exchange brand, as its COO – Global Operations, since 1991. From an organisation with four branches in the UAE, Sudhir Shetty has led the entity to emerge into a global player with over 700 branches in 31 countries, the largest networked brand in its class. Today, UAE Exchange serves over 6.5 million expatriate customers, worldwide, handling 6% of the total global remittances. Along side, Sudhir has been instrumental in building strong bonds with the various expatriate communities, including a large percentage of Indians, who trust the brand for its quality services and professional customer care.

“Heading UAE Exchange has been an exciting journey of self discovery for me. The freedom and trust bestowed on me by its founders has empowered me to do a responsible job. Added to it, the efficient team of professionals, working with me, made the challenging role, easier. I am extremely thankful for all of that. This recognition has filled pride in me as an Indian. I feel it is an apt ode to the NRIs, whose contributions have mostly gone unnoticed.” Sudhir Shetty added.
Considered an authority in the financial realm, especially in remittance and foreign exchange, Sudhir Shetty is the voice, the industry and the Media turn to. An alumnus of the Harvard Business School, Sudhir Shetty has been instrumental in streamlining the remittance and foreign exchange segment in the UAE, in particular. He is one of the founding members of Foreign Exchange and Remittance Group (FERG), which is the regulatory body for remittance and exchange houses in the UAE. His command over a range of subjects and exceptional oratory skills have made him a much-sought-after speaker in various seminars, events, educational institutions, worldwide.
Meanwhile Sudhir Shetty was also bestowed with the Eminent Aloysian Alumni Award by his alma mater St. Aloysious College in Mangalore on 22nd March, 2014. Sudhir thanked the institution for instilling strong values, which helped him in building a successful career on a global canvas.

These new feathers add more colour to his rich cap, which adorns awards like Global Personality Award, Mayura Award, Akshaya Global Award, Vishwamaanya Award and many more at an individual level. He has also driven the culture of excellence in UAE Exchange, which won several coveted awards under his leadership.

97% of 12,000 new NRI voters from Kerala for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections

For the first time, non-resident Indians will be voting in the general elections. A total of 11,844 NRIs have enrolled via post for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections but they will have to travel to their constituency to cast votes on the polling day.
Kerala accounts for the bulk of the NRI voters at 11,488, while Punjab with 138 and Tamil Nadu with 112 come a far second and third, respectively. NRI voter registration figures not only point to migration patterns but also indicate levels of political awareness. Uttar Pradesh, the state with the largest number of general voters, has no NRI voters.
“Kerala has a large migrant population in Gulf countries. Also, Keralites are politically aware and so many have registered to vote,” said UAE-based Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust chairman K V Shamsudheen.
Following the amendment of The Representation of the People Bill in 2010, citizens of India living abroad were given a chance to register as voters. As of May 2012, the ministry of overseas Indian affairs put the number of NRIs at more than a crore, and the overseas Indian community (which includes NRIs and people of Indian origin) at 2.5 crore.
An NRI is eligible to vote if he or she does not hold citizenship of any other country, according to the Election Commission rules. An NRI can vote in the constituency that is mentioned in his or her passport as the place of residence in India. The form to be filled and posted to the electoral registration officer of the constituency is available on the EC website. An NRI will get a letter or an SMS once his or her name is added to the rolls.
Though the forms and photocopies of supporting documents can be sent by post, an NRI has to appear in person to cast vote. Postal ballot, online voting or even polling in the local Indian missions are not an option.
“The government should allow us to vote in the Indian consulate or embassy or send our votes by post. It is not possible for 25 million NRIs to travel to their hometowns just to vote,” said a spokesperson for NRI Voting Rights, a forum of NRIs in the US.
“When we can register online, why not cast our votes online? The EC can introduce extra layers of checks and verification processes,” said Shamsudheen. “The government can make use of the details such as fingerprints and iris scans that we have already given for Aadhar registration so that we can vote from the place where we are working,” he said.

Smaller states seem to have more politically conscious citizens than larger ones. At least 56 citizens from Puducherry who are living in France have enrolled themselves, while 27 voters from Goa are on the rolls. New Delhi and Maharashtra have 13 NRI voters each, while the rest of the states have just one each.
“The Election Commission has made it easy for NRIs to register as voters by explaining on its website the procedure to be followed. The manner of voting has to be decided by the government and it may take time,” said an EC official.

Diaspora ballot
Total No. of NRIs: 1 crore
Total No. of NRI voters: 11,844
Kerala: 11,488
Punjab: 138
Tamil Nadu: 112
Puducherry: 56
Goa: 27
New Delhi: 13
Maharashtra: 13

Migrant Indians among most enterprising in UK: Report

Chicago. Prabhu Sinha. The 2014 Indian Lok Sabha election will select 543 members , to the national Parliament. The new Lok Sabha will elect the Prime Minister, only BJP and AAP, seems to have chosen their leader for the Prime Minister’s post. BJP’s Narendra Modi and AAP Arvind Kejriwal, both have one thing in common-fighting the Grand Old Party of Indian National Congress. While Modi has introduced the American style of Politics, Congress still empowers the Parliament Style of Politics, the Prime Minister to be chosen by elected Members of Parliament.
Seven in ten Indians are dissatisfied with the way things are going in India today, are the historic examples of a vibrant Democracy and the aspirations of the Young India emerging, with thumping demands to challenge China, United States, Canada, England and the G-8 Club of Nations. Non Resident Indians are, recently conducted a Phone Poll, to determine their issues and concerns, with 62 % prefer Arvind Kejriwal over Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi, to lead India’s 700 million people for better in changes and their expectations. Just 57% NRI’s are satisfied by UPA Government of Dr. Manmohan SIngh, desiring a more aggressive leader Rahul Gandhi to cope up with modernization of China. Modi’s Mission for 2014 has the support of 44% as a national leader, but short on all fronts as a International Leader, much in demanding of the India, as a emerging power.
Overseas BJP, Shiromani Akali Dal, Indian Overseas Congress and Aam Admi Party are the major Foreign Cells of the Indian Political Parties, here in the USA, Canada and England. Overseas BJP, while happy with the Ambassador Nancy Powell’s call on Modi in Gandhinagar, are in political oblivion in reference to Local Congressman, US Senators, Canadian and England Parliamentarians. Aam Admi Members, have successfully ran NRI enrollment campaign, financing New Delhi Elections and winning the confidence of NRI community at large. Indian Overseas Congress, the oldest Foreign Cell of Indian National Congress is well entrenched with the Republican and Democrats in US, Liberal, Conservative and NDP, in Canada and spearheading campaigns in England with Conservatives and Labour Party.
Post 2014 Lok Sabha election, opinions were solicited in the NRI Poll, Liberal Ajit Sandhu feels India Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s political weakness is going against the Congress Party and will cost it dearly, Conservative Gurmant Sidhu, echoes Aam Admi Party’s agenda of corruption, which will favor the tally of 100 seats of Aam Aadmi Party, paving the way for a New Coalition Government in South Block New Delhi. NDP member Jivan Sharma, calls for Modi’s aggressive campaign as a positive election strategy for gains in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, where Right Wing Hindus have a majority.

Aam Admi Chairman Sunil Mishra feels Rahul Gandhi, has been kept too long under her Mother Sonia Gandhi and his ”inner-outer campaign” is going against him. IOC President Vikram Bajwa on the recent US diplomacy on Modi commented ” its like the issue in Ukraine, where the Leaders themselves are confused, while Modi himself is fear of entering the White House”, he is best suited for State Politics, not National. Modi cannot face the International Press in New York or Washington DC, said Bajwa and Executive Member Dr. Jayant Patel. Shiromani Akali Dal member Harjinder Dhillon, fears the Punjab ‘Drug Problem”, will diminish the expected wins in Punjab.