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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Monday, November 04, 2013

RIP Reshma!


Music lovers all over, particularly in Pakistan and India, were saddened by the death of legendary Pakistani folk singer Reshma in Lahore. The singer of the classic sad song “Lambi Judaai” has gone giving her fans literally the longest 'judaai' (separation) which will remain unsurmountable for ever. But they will be able to bear it, I'm sure, by playing again and again their all time favorite from Reshma, the “Lambi Judaai” - a link to the song:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKB1lMM-i8E



Reshma always remained amongst my most favorite singers from Pakistan. When Susan Boyle suddenly appeared on the global scene and created a sensation as one of the greatest singers, I wrote the following article, featured as a blog in the U.S. April 18, 2009, which I'm posting on this august platform as a tribute to the departed singer:



Susan Boyle, the Reshma of Britain!



Last weekend, Susan Boyle was just a face in the crowd. This weekend, clips of her singing on Britain's Got Talent have notched up almost 50 million views on YouTube. Her face appears on the front pages of papers in Britain and beyond. Hollywood agents and talk-show bookers are jostling for a few minutes with Susan Boyle. The rise of the 47-year-old spinster from Scotland has been a true global phenomenon.



On Saturday's season premiere of " Britain's Got Talent," from the moment she stepped onstage, was perhaps the most unlikely star, until she started to sing. Boyle, who had some limited previous vocal training and then mostly in church choirs, shrewdly picked "I Dreamed a Dream," a heartbreaking ballad about unfulfilled dreams from the hit musical "Les Misérables." A few bars into the song, as her earthy, pleasing voice took command and soared over the auditorium, the crowd could be heard letting out a collective gasp, then starting to cheer raucously. Her voice confounded all expectations - the judges' eyes bulged, the crowd went wild and Boyle became an instant star. Ever since, the "fairytale" has travelled the globe. It is the story of a talent unearthed. Boyle has shattered prejudices about the connection between age, appearance and talent. She has proved that you don't have to be young and glamorous to be talented, and recognized as such. The YouTube millions have cheered on the underdog, and seen in her the possibilities for their own hopes and dreams.



Boyle's story resembles that of Reshma, the mesmerizing folk singer of Pakistan, who blazed a fiery trail in the firmament of Pakistan’s music galaxy. Born in Bikaner (Rajasthan) and raised in Pakistan, Reshma’s voice has a distinctive, rustic Rajasthani touch. Reshma’s gift for singing was discovered during one of her frequent performances at the shrines. Much of her childhood was spent performing at shrines of saints in Sindh. It was at such a performance when Salim Gilani, Director in Pakistan's radio station, heard her and asked her to perform on radio. The wheels of her illustrious career were thus set in motion, and soon Reshma had become a household name. Immortalizing songs such as Oh rabba do dinan da meil, thay phir lambhi judai. the songstress touched millions with the haunting melody of her songs. Reshma’s voice is that of Mother Earth, coming from deep, deep within the bowels of our consciousness, echoing hauntingly through the cold, dark, empty void of the universe. It is a voice unlike any other. Truly it is the voice of the desert - unending in its breadth and unrelenting in its depth, making listeners believe not only in passion, but experience all its manifestations – the torture of waiting for a beloved, the ecstasy of union, the sharp pain of betrayal, the sadness of loss.



Both performers are classic underdogs, non-threatening people who, in pursuing long-held dreams, managed to triumph over easily understood disadvantages. They both did not have any formal education and training in music, however they sang from their heart in churches and shrines before they were discovered for the world of music. And when it happened, the world stopped to hear them. They both have a voice that comes from the heart and the one that always touches the heart. Their voice possesses that rare quality that is often aspired to, but attained by only a chosen few – what one might almost call the sublime catharsis of the soul.”

RIP Reshma

Sunday, November 03, 2013

The Stolen Hour!


Good Morning and Happy Diwali!



It is 7.00 a.m. of Nov 03 here in California while you in India must have already done the Diwali-puja. We still have a long day ahead, actually longer than usual. Due to Daylight Saving Time setting the clock back earlier at 2.00 a.m., we have 25-hour Diwali day today. Interesting, isn't it?
Daylight Saving Time is one of the West’s great mysteries, like who really killed JFK. It was one of the things I assumed I would never understand. But thanks to widespread knowledge gathered from Google, the mystery is more or less solved for me, and may be for you also if you don't mind my breaking it to you here.



Daylight Saving Time dates back to the good ole’ days when we did everything based on when we had sunlight. Just as sunflowers turn their heads to catch every sunbeam, so too we discovered a simple way to get more from the sun when Benjamin Franklin suggested we all get up earlier to save money on candles. It was a major blow to all the unhappy, unhealthy, and unwise people who love to snooze - early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise!
The practice wasn’t formally implemented until World War I, when countries at war started setting their clocks back to save on coal. Daylight Saving was repealed during peacetime, and then revived again during World War II. More than 70 countries currently practice Daylight Saving Time, because they think it saves money on electricity (in the U.S., Arizona and Hawaii have opted out).




Daylight Saving Time is the practice of advancing clocks during the lighter months so that evenings have more daylight and mornings have less. Typically clocks are adjusted toward one hour near the start of spring and are adjusted backward in autumn. Although an early goal of DST was to reduce evening use of electricity for lighting, modern cooling and heating usage pattern differ greatly and research about how DST currently effects energy use is contrary. Studies show that Daylight Saving Time actually results in a one percent overall increase in residential electricity. And that it messes with sleeping patterns. Oh, and also it may cause heart attacks, according to the American Journal of Cardiology. So it’s no surprise that more and more countries are reevaluating whether to hold on to this relic from the past.



DST complicates time keeping and can disrupt meetings, travel and sleep patterns. By resetting all clocks to be one hour ahead of Standard Time, we wake an hour earlier than we would have otherwise, and complete daily work routine an hour earlier and will experience an extra hour of daylight following workday activities. Most of the United States begins DST at 2.00 a.m. On the second Sunday in March and reverts to standard time on the first Sunday in November. 'Spring forward, Fall back' is the formula. Phrase Daylight Saving Time is inaccurate, since no daylight is actually saved, Daylight Shifting Time would be better. But who cares, what comes from West is the best – right or wrong.
Widespread confusion was created during the 1950s and 1960s when each U. S. city could start and end DST as it desired – 23 different pairs of DST starting and ending dates were in use in Iowa alone. On one Ohio to West Virginia bus rout passengers had to change their watches seven times in 35 miles. The twin Minnesota cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are considered a single metropolitan area, but they had one hour time difference due to different DST time settings, bringing a period of great time turmoil to the cities and surrounding areas.
In Antartica, there is no daylight in the winter and months of 24-hour daylight in summer. But many of the research stations there still observe DST anyway, to synchronize with their parent countries.
While twins born at 11.55 p.m. And 12.05 a.m. May have different birthdays, DST can change their birth order – on paper anyway. During the time change in the fall, one baby could be born at 1.55 a.m. And the sibling born ten minutes later would be recorded to have born at 1.05 a.m. In the spring there is a gap when no babies are born at all from 2.00 to 3.00 a.m.
As with the U.S., Great Britain had a checkered past with DST or Summer Time as it is known there. In the early part of the 20th century citizens protested at the change, using the slogan, “Give us back our stolen hour”!

Saturday, November 02, 2013

HAPPY DIWALI!


HAPPY DIWALI !



I'm sending you greetings from the U.S., where the first ever Diwali festival was celebrated at the U.S. Congress on Tuesday amidst chanting of Vedic mantras by a Hindu priest. Over two dozen influential lawmakers along with eminent Indian-Americans gathered at the Capitol Hill to lit the traditional “diyas”. The event — the first of its kind at the Capitol Hill — was organized by the two Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, Congressmen Joe Crowley and Peter Roskam in recognition of increasing presence of the Indian-American community. The occasion was also used to highlight significance of India-US relationship.
“I have come here to say Happy Diwali,” said Nancy Pelosi, Leader of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives. “United States owes a great debt of gratitude to India. Because our civil rights movement was built on the non-violent movement in India. Martin Luther King studied there, spoke there. We are blessed not only by that legacy, but also by the presence of so many Indo-Americans in our country,” Pelosi said.



Many schools, community groups, Hindu associations, Indian organizations and corporate businesses get involved in celebrating Diwali. Politicians, including governors and past presidents, previously made public announcements expressing their greetings and well wishes to Indians on Diwali. Some communities organize firework displays and states such as Utah have proclaimed Diwali as one of their state festivals. Indians, while living here in the U.S. and participating in public celebrations of the festival nearest to their location of residence, have their hearts in India and enjoy sharing with their loved ones, especially their children born and brought up here in the U.S., who have remained far removed from their roots in India, the nostalgic memories of how they celebrated the festival back home:

Diwali is also known as Deepavali, the literal meaning of which in Sanskrit is 'row of lamps'. The highlight of the function was filling little clay lamps called 'diyas', with oil, mainly mustered oil, and wick and lighting them in rows on the balconies all over the house. The tradition is still maintained by those who have the means, otherwise by and large, diyas are now replaced with candles or electric illuminations. Before the celebration begins, every nook and corner of the house is thoroughly cleaned and the house is white-washed or painted well in time for the festival. On the day of Diwali, the entrance is especially made colorful with lovely traditional motifs and Rangoli designs, and the front door decorated with flowers to welcome Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. Lamps are kept burning all through night or as long as possible as Lakshmi could come any time, even late at night. Lakshmi-Puja is perfomed in the evening when the tiny diyas are lighted and the 'thali' full of traditional as well as the choicest sweets is offered to the Goddess and thereafter to everyone around, family and friends.

Movies have also become a major part of the festivities, though may not be on the Diwali day due to pre-occupation with preparations for the Puja and other related funcions by the families. Still, movies in India have catered to the escapist masses much of its 100 years long existence. And what better place than the darkened cinema hall to bring alive those fantasies – and again what better time to share the sheer joy of movies other than on a festive occasion like Diwali. The festival of lights has traditionally been the best time to celebrate release of the biggest movies starring marquee actors.It was a guarantee that the movies would release to a packed audience because the festive mood would extend from people's homes into the movie theaters. Thus, while decades may have changed generations, the fact remains that Diwali and Bollywood have remained entwined together ever since Mehboob's Mother India was released on Diwali, or even earlier when Zohrabai's “Aayee Diwali Aayee Diwali” and Amirbai Karnataki's “Ghar Ghar Mein Diwali Hai” had become a rage. The industry has been quick to realize the potential of the all-pervading sense of happiness in the country and has traditionally vied to release its best movie during this period. Who can forget the late Yash Chopra's romantic movies that were a mandatory feature of the festival since the eighties. His son Aditya Chopra set a new benchmark for Diwali releases when he released Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge in 1995. The movie is said to be still running at Mumbai's Maratha Mandir theater and its record run is unprecedented anywhere in the world. More recently, Karan Johar's “Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham” has the most impressive Diwali sequence with the ultimate title song “Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham” by Lata Mangeshkar, followed by the “Shava Shava” song and dance number that truly fits the festive mood for Diwali. The best movies to release during Diwali are the traditional masala potboilers. For example this year's Krrish 3 is a perfect Diwali release because it's an established franchise film with a great cast.

May the Diwali illuminations brighten your homes and Lakshmi-Puja bring riches and prosperity in the house … Happy Diwali !

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"A Pain In The Neck"!


“... and I often wonder where that expression 'a pain in the neck' originated from ...”
- Amitabh Bachchan (Blog DAY 2022)



I too wonder, though I used the expression, perhaps for the first time, in 1996 in one of my 'Letters to the Editor', published in San Francisco Chronical, the largest circulated daily of Northern California. We had just ended our long jetlag after moving to USA to be with our son settled as software engineer in Silicon Valley, the Mecca of computer industry. The first thing our son did was to make his mother feel that he badly needed her here to be of help to him in multiple tasks which only a Mom could do. He brought all his shirts with the request to remove all the tags stitched inside the neckline as he found them very annoying constantly rubbing against his neck. While his Mom immediately started unstitching the tags, I did what I love to do and had been doing back home in India for a long time – wrote my first 'Letter to the Editor' after landing in USA:
Calling All Clothiers
Editor
Could you kindly tell all clothiers not to stitch on that nasty tag inside the neckline, It really is a pain on the neck.
Thanks
Tilak Rishi
Elgranada”
  • San Francisco Chronical - Feb 18, 1996
I don't know if my letter caught the attention of any clothier, but I know for sure the editor liked the idea as he prominently published the letter in a box, attracting endorsement from many of its readers in their follow up letters.
As for the origin of the expression, even Google was of not great help, except for vague information:
'A pain in the neck' is a more polite version of the original 'pain in the ass' which originated around 1900. It started out as just 'a pain' as “He gives me a pain”, first used about 1300 from Old French 'peine', from Latin – condition one feels when hurt.”
I wonder how much this information works to quench the curiosity about the origin of the phrase, but the search itself was interesting as I came to know fascinating facte about some other popular phrases:
Caught Red Handed”: a person who is caught red-handed is discovered in the middle of committing a crime or doing something wrong. It is usually related to stealing. This idiom originated in the 14th century when the act of killing another man's animal and selling the meat was a common crime. If a person was caught with the blood of a freshly killed animal on his hands this was considered proof of his guilt.



Raining Cats and Dogs”: It means it's raining heavily. The phrase originated in 17th century England. Very heavy rain would occasionally wash dead animals through the street. The animals didn't fall from the sky of course, but the sight of dead cats and dogs being washed down the street with the rain caused people to joke it must have been raining cats and dogs.



Under the weather”: If you are 'under the weather' it means you are sick or unwell. This idiom originated in the British Navy. When a sailor became sick, he was kept under the deck or 'under the weather' so he could get well.



Money doesn't grow on trees”: The expression means that money does not come easily or without effort; you should be careful how much money you spend because there is only a limited amount. It seems to have come from a Japanese proverb that states, contrary to the above idiom, 'money grows on the tree of persistence'. In other words, if you keep trying and never give up, money will come to you.



We may hit a treasure of stories on the origin of so many phrases if we start digging as there is no dearth of information on the subject on Google and other search engines, but I doubt if it is worth the trouble till we wonder about the origin of another phrase. Then, of course, it will be a pleasure to put in all the effort to extract information on a particular phrase as I did for “A pain in the neck”.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Happy With High-tech Lifestyle?


The romance and the effervescence, the aroma, of the delicate art of letter writing, now encapsulated on a 'hard disc'. And the most beautiful part of the exercise – the wait – that look of anticipation at your door for the postman. To study from the expression whether he has something for you. The dejection when he does not and the elation when he does.” (DAY 338, March 27, 2009).
... I have never found an apple store, not crowded... our future lives are going to be a scream … that is conclusive, and the desired material required for this to be accomplished is going to come from such stores that tempt us with an half bitten apple … cool!” (Day 1979, Sept 15, 2013)



Here is a delayed response to Big B's above thoughts, which define our lives today and will always remain relevant. My first reaction on reading them was to instantly take a trip to the nostalgic pleasures of writing letters and receiving letters from our loved ones, handed over personally by the postman with a huge smile. The memories of those exciting moments are still fresh when we sent our 17-year son to USA for studies and would wait for his long hand written letters narrating his first encounters with the western culture, far away from home. Postman then used to be part of your private world and riding on his cycle he would wave to us from some distance with a broad smile, giving a hint that he has a letter from our son for delivery.



Not all tools given by modern technology, however magnificent they may be, can replace conventional methods which in many cases are more reliable, colorful and effective. This was amply, though inadvertently, proved at the world's high-tech capital, the Silicon Valley in California, USA. A college there, preparing to reopen after long summer vacations, continues to employ a contractor every year who brings his herd of goats to graze on the wild growth of shrubs, for days till the grounds are cleared of the wild growth. In the same high-tech Silicon Valley, a sewage-line plumber relies on the smelling power of his pigs to locate the leaking spot in the underground sewage line. Donna Karen, the world renowned fashion designer, has her home-gym in New York equipped with the latest high-tech fitness accessories, but the exercise she enjoys doing is to send her car and driver to office with her bags, while she walks to work. Indeed, there are innumerable examples where men and women have access to numerous high-tech gadgets, but they are happier doing things the traditional way. Can a pullover produced on the most modern knitting machine match the warmth and beauty of a hand made sweater, knitted with love and care by a loved one? Fax may be the fastest way to send your communication, but it is certainly not meant for men who make reading and writing a romance of life. Hands and human endeavor cannot be obliterated by computers, microwave ovens and the rest. Let us put gadgets properly in their place before we become all too willing slaves to them.



Wires, cables, gleaming metal and blinking lights – these are the tapings of the modern office. As much as I love my brushed steel Imac, however, the cold lights and white cords can feel cold and sterile. Without doubt many gadgets are great, even if they make life stressful. Cell phone is almost a necessity now, but then it makes you available 24x7, no matter what. Handheld devices give you access to email anywhere – why? Email is a communication device and can wait. Same for internet access on handhelds. A young scientist in India has now come up with a device that puts on your palm all that you had on handsets. Don't be surprised if very soon you see people reading their palm on the roads. There was a time when I felt very concerned for the man on the road who was talking aloud to himself. Poor man, I thought, must be under too much stress or worse still, a victim of nervous breakdown. No more concern or compassion for the man now. Not that I have become callous or insensitive, but because I know for certain that the man is not sick, he is only using his cellphone, discreetly designed to be invisible to others. And he has company, most others on the road doing the same thing, talking to themselves while walking or driving. To them it is the best way to shorten the distance to their destination, even if it may shorten the life of others on the road. A survey conducted in California (USA) concluded that cellphone users made a major contribution to road accidents and a bill was passed to ban the use of cellphones while on the wheel. Still, we need to be careful from those who delightfully defy such laws out of arrogance. Ironically, most of the time we all talk to ourselves when talking on 'phone. It is because of the prevailing trend not to pick up the phone, but to let the caller keep talking to the answering machine or record his voice in the voice-mail. Incidentally, answering machine is actually a 'no answer machine'. It loses its voice after the beep. You may keep talking into the machine but without expecting it to answer your queries. The right to answer rests with the owner of the machine, who may respond to your call at his will, or may not call back at all, depending on your identity as a caller. Unlike simpleton servants of the old times, who would pick up the receiver and respond, “Sahib kehte hein weh ghar par nahin (Master says he is not at home)”, the modern day answering machine is too smart to give a hint that the called one is very much there and listening to the caller's message on the machine. Gadgets like this motivate the modern man to play games with another man, rather than have the joy of reaching out to him with a warm response. But then this is how the world works today. Those others like me are likely to be left behind, who pause to ponder if the modern machines are a bane or boon.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Bollywood Beyond Its Shores!


The Indian film world reaches beyond the shores of its own now in many aspects...”
  • Amitabh Bachchan blog (DAY 2017)
Very true.. And it's none other than Big B himself and “the lovely ebullient and fun filled best in the line” Kajol - looks as stunning standing with Big B on the sets of KBC in the picture in his today's post (Day 2020) as in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham - who played a major part in pushing 'Indian film world beyond the shores of its own.' Karan Johar's K3G was the first big hit overseas that did roaring business in U.S.A., U.K., Australia and the United Arab Emirates. My son's friend and colleague from their Sun Microsystems office in Germany met us when the film was running worldwide and said that K3G, also named “Sometime Happy Sometime Sad”, dubbed in Germany, had become a rage in his country and was doing better business than Hollywood movies runnig against it. Then followed yet another from KJO, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna – Never Say Goodbye - on the subject of infidelity that was declared the biggest Indian hit overseas. There was no looking back thereafter and the box-office figures of Indian films in the foreign market establish the fact that Bollywood films have finally carved a niche for themselves internationally, especially in the U.S. where they do more business than films from any other country. Besides, many big Hollywood studios want a share of the action in Bollywood’s busting film industry.



Besides Indian movies especially being made with an eye on the overseas market, the biggest contribution that is currently being made to push the envelop is what is popularly known as Bolly-dance. Mention Bollywood, today the first thing that comes to mind is the Bolly-dance. It is this phenomenon that makes Bollywood and cinema in India so very unique. 99% of the films Bollywood turns out are musicals full of incredibly imaginative, loud, vibrant and exciting scenes of song and dance. Bollywood dance scene is a piece of art, and it is the costume designer who adds to the art it's color. As the slow and steady progress of western culture imposes itself onto the East it is nice to see that somethings are being returned. Bolly-dance is starting to subtly but undoubtedly influence Western dance, specifically Hip-Hop and Pop. It cannot be over emphasized how special Bolly-dance really is to India's, and even world's culture. A small but significant example is when America's NBC show Smash goes Bollywood. NBC's musical drama pays homage to Indian movies with an elaborate performance. It's a dream sequence, set to the original song ''A Thousand and One Nights'' written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, and is ­triggered by the strained relationship between Karen (Katharine McPhee, pictured) and Dev (Raza Jaffrey). ''They have dinner in an Indian restaurant and there are Bollywood numbers playing in the videos on the wall,'' says Smash creator Theresa Rebeck. The increasing popularity of Bolly-dance culture is not confined to USA alone, but spreading all over the world, from the West to the East. The other day we were watching our favorite Korean drama “Baby-faced Beauty” (episode 8) and the scene was the company anniversary party where amongst many other items of entertainment was the lead player's dance. And what a shock it was for her peers in the party, but still bigger for us, when she started dancing Bolly-dance on a hit Daler Mehndi song playing in the background.



Getting fit through Bolly-dance is a new trend amongst the youth in the West, especially America, which is becoming a craze. Bolly-dancing has become an exotic and exciting way of getting your body fit and healthy. It offers a fun and exercise workout, incorporating classical, folk (bhangra) and funk styles of dancing on popular hit songs from Hindi movies. It is an expressive form of movement based around the popular Indian film genre. It offers a fast moving and vivacious dancing workout that is great for enjoyable group exercise. Bolly-dance workout fitness centers are increasing by the day all over USA and giving a tough competition to the traditional fitness centers equipped with treadmill and other workout equipment. The other day, we were surprised watching Dr. OZ show on TV. This is today the most popular health related show in the U.S.. Dr. OZ not only recommended Bolly-dance as the best fusion dance form for fitness but also demonstrated live with some indian ladies on the stage and asked the audience to dance with them. London based fitness star and 'yogini' Hemalaya leads sexy, sassy fun workouts that she declares to be the best to burn fat and tone your whole body. As more and more expert advice on fitness favors Bolly-dance as the best form of exercise, this regimen has become a rage with the health conscious youth in the West at Bolly-dance workout centers as well as home – here is a link to one such example:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=1432005507027029

























Friday, October 25, 2013

Not A Land Of Snake Charmers!


Prime Focus which started with four young entrepreneurs has now become an institute of perfection in post production and digital work for all the largest entertainment industries in the world. Most of the Hollywood special effects are done at Prime Focus in Mumbai – 'Clash of the Titans', 'Gatesby' and the recent sensational hit film 'Gravity' to name a few...”
- Amitabh Bachchan (Blog DAY 2018)



Prime Focus, and several such high-tech companies in India are today the prime focus of out sourcing by the biggest companies of the West, especially the U.S., and it makes us so proud of the fact. What a sea change from the time, not long ago, hardly any Western executives would dare explore India for IT outsourcing- what, isn't it just a land of snake charmers and fables where corporate westerner would feel lost in the culture, people, bureaucracy, red tape and get scared off by food poisoning and lack of infrastructure. And the US embassy was very reluctant to issue visa to Indian students for studies in computers - "There is no automation in India, why would you want to spend so much money on computer courses in U.S.A.?" - was the stock question of the Councilor interviewing the ambitious students striving to pursue computer courses in USA. That was in the Eighties when our son also faced the same question, but some how got through the grilling interview and was able to go to the US for higher studies in computers.



Now after two decades, Fortune 500 headhunters are always on the lookout for Indian computer engineers-the hottest commodities. American universities love the kids from India, and so do the American companies. Thousands of Indian engineers have come to the U.S. in recent years to work in computer and software companies. "Microsoft, Intel, Sun Microsystems-you name it, I can't imagine a major area where Indian software engineers haven't played a leading role. How many jobs have Indian entrepreneurs created over the last 15-20 years, hundreds of thousands, I would guess,"says Vinod Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems and one of Silicon Valley's most important venture capitalists.



From India's perspective, the best part of the presence of Indian engineers in the U.S. is that each one of them is very sincere in saying the same thing-"I may be in the U.S., but my heart is in India." They have contributed to India's economic progress by the regular remittances of foreign exchange back home. The time has come, most of them are ready to return home to participate in India's ongoing leap forward in the Information Technology. The biggest brain-drain of the last two decades has become the biggest brain-gain for India in the last two years. They were the Indian- born, successfully integrated IT professionals in the West, that paved the way to and for India- built the first partnership with Indian outsourcing firms, helped open the Bangalore offices for their US IT firms. They were the perfect and trustworthy bridge for US companies to send back to India to set up shop there. Check out the bio-data for all the Indian heads for IBM, Microsoft, Sun, HP, Intel,..., all studied in US, worked for parent companies in US, then helped open up their offices in India. Of course, great brains existed within India itself from IITs and elsewhere that started Wipro, Tata, Satyam and the likes. This Indian success was the result of the perfect marriage of those engineers in India and the Indian-born engineers settled in the West, together influencing and convincing the West to take the first chance, the first step offshore in India.



Much credit for this brain-gain for the country goes to India's most modern and computer savvy Prime Minister, the late Rajiv Gandhi, who initiated automation in India. If Jawaharlal Nehru was the father of scientific advancement of India, his grand son Rajiv could be called the father of computer savvy India. His prime thought as Prime Minister was how to make India one of the most advanced countries in computers in the 21st century, and always encouraged Indian universities to give greatest importance to imparting computer courses and to bringing back Indian students who complete their studies of the subject abroad. This anecdote from my son's student days at the University of San Francisco is just one example of what Rajiv Gandhi thought was best for the country: Alok was in his third year at the USF, when to his greatest surprise, his room-mate in the hostel gave him a message from Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi-- "India is all set to start computerization in a big way, and awaits your coming back after completing your courses in computers." The room-mate was son of Morocco's Prime Minister, who on official visit to India had mentioned to his counterpart that his son was doing computers in the US and his room-mate was from India. Rajiv Gandhi requested him to convey the message to the student from India through his son.



So, the companies like Prime Focus and computer giants in India have convincingly proved to the world that ours is the land of the high-tech brains and top software engineers, and no longer the land of snake charmers.