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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.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Exemplary Voice Of Indian-Americans

At a state dinner in India in March 2000, US President Bill Clinton said, "My country has been enriched by the contributions of more than a million Indian Americans.” This is, indeed, a long way from the days of early migration when the first trickle of Indians in search of economic opportunities came to California at the end of the nineteenth century. On April 5, 1899, four Punjabis who had worked in the British Royal Artillery in Hong Kong, landed in San Francisco and were allowed to stay in the US by the Immigration Service . The grant of permission gave the signal to others to follow those four pioneers. Indians mainly came to the US as laborers to build the country's railroad or work in farmlands, while facing prejudice, hostility and blatant discrimination against the people of Indian origin. Today, Indian-Americans are one of the fastest-growing and most successful immigrant groups in the United States. The 1.5 million Indian Americans in the US continue to top the US Census charts as the best-educated, highest-paid and top-placed community among the 38.1 million foreign-born population in the country. Indians have proliferated in this country in the fields of health care, information technology and engineering, with higher education levels and incomes than national averages. And recent years have brought Nobel Laureates, Indian heads of major U.S. companies — PepsiCo Inc.’s Indra Nooyi is among about a dozen current CEOs. They also are making their presence felt in politics – Bobby Jindal for example is a state Governor. Here are some of the best known Indians in the U.S., who have made it big in life due to sheer grit, determination and hard work:

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, (October 19, 1910 – August 21, 1995) was an Indian American astrophysicist. He was a Nobel laureate in physics along with William Alfred Fowler for their work in the theoretical structure and evolution of stars. He was the nephew of Indian Nobel Laureate Sir C. V. Raman. The NASA's premier X-ray observatory was named the Chandra X-ray Observatory in honor of the late Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. The observatory was launched into space in July 1999.

Amartya Kumar Sen is an Indian Nobel laureate in Economics. He is known "for his contributions to welfare economics" for his work on famine, human development theory, welfare economics, the underlying mechanisms of poverty, gender inequality, and political liberalism.

Venkatraman "Venki" Ramakrishnan is a structural biologist at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England. He received the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome".

Kalpana Chawla was an Indian-American scientist and a NASA astronaut. She was one of seven crewmembers killed in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. Kalpana was assigned to technical positions in the astronaut office, her performance in which was recognized with a special award from her peers. She has been posthumously awarded: Congressional Space Medal of Honor, NASA Space Flight Medal, NASA Distinguished Service Medal and Defense Distinguished Service Medal.

Sunita Williams is a United States Naval officer and a NASA astronaut. She was assigned to the International Space Station as a member of Expedition 14 and then joined Expedition 15. She holds the record of the longest spaceflight (195 days) for female space travelers.

Dalip Singh Saund (1899–1973) was a member of the United States House of Representatives. He served the 29th district of the state of California from January 3, 1957–January 3, 1963. He was the first Asian American, Indian American and Sikh member of the United States Congress.

Piyush "Bobby" Jindal is the Governor of Louisiana. Before Jindal's election as governor, he was a member of Congress for Louisiana's 1st congressional district, elected in 2004. Jindal was re-elected to the House in the 2006 election with 88 percent of the vote. He is the second Indian American elected to Congress.

Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji (1929– 2004), also known as Yogi Bhajan and Siri Singh Sahib, was a charismatic spiritual leader and successful entrepreneur who introduced Kundalini Yoga and Sikhism to the USA. He was the spiritual director of the 3HO (Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization) Foundation, which today is one of the world's largest yoga-teaching bodies, and an outspoken defender of the holistic doctrine of Sikh Religion. The New York Times had a sardonic title to its obituary for Yogi Bhajan, "Boss of Worlds Capitalistic and Spiritual, Dies":

Deepak Chopra is an endocrinologist, lecturer, celebrity and author of books on spirituality and mind-body medicine. Chopra began his career as a medical doctor and later worked in mind-body medicine and Ayurveda. The June 1999 issue of Time magazine identified Chopra as one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century and credited him as "the poet-prophet of alternative medicine."

Vivek Kundra is the Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the United States of America. He served in Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty's cabinet as the Chief Technology Officer for the District and, before that, as Virginia's Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Technology in Governor Tim Kaine's cabinet.

Aneesh Chopra is the first Federal Chief Technology Officer of the United States (CTO). He previously served as Virginia’s fourth Secretary of Technology. Prior to his government service, Chopra was Managing Director for the Advisory Board Company, a health care think tank for hospitals and heath systems.

Arun Majumdar has been nominated to be the first director of the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). This position has been dubbed Green Czar.

Amar Gopal Bose is the chairman and founder of Bose Corporation. An American electrical engineer of Indian and Anglo-American descent, he was listed on the 2007 Forbes 400 with a net worth of $1.8 billion.

Bharat Desai is a billionaire Indian American entrepreneur and founder of Syntel. He currently serves as Chairman of Syntel (NASDAQ: SYNT), a global provider of Information Technology and Knowledge Process Outsourcing services, headquartered in Troy, Michigan.

Kavitark Ram Shriram is the founding board member of Google and one of the first investors in Google. Kavitark Shriram ranked 583 at Forbes worlds list of billionaires 2007 and ranked 677 on 2008. He currently owns 3.4 million shares of Google.[4]

Vinod Khosla is a Indian-American venture capitalist. He is an influential personality in Silicon Valley. He was one of the co-founders of Sun Microsystems and became first CEO & Chairman of Sun Microsystems and then became a general partner of the venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers in 1986. In 2004 Khosla formed his own firm, Khosla Ventures.

Sabeer Bhatia is the co-founder of Hotmail and an entrepreneur. In less than six months, the website attracted over 1 million subscribers. As the interest in the web-based email provider increased, Microsoft eventually took notice and Hotmail was sold to Microsoft for a reported sum of $400 million.

Didar Singh Bains, a Sikh farmer from Punjab, came to America fifty years ago, with $8 in his pocket. Driving tractors and irrigating orchards for 75 cents an hour, he did the work of four men, and soon bought his first peach orchard. He bought another, then another, and by 1978, had become the largest peach grower and came to be known as the Peach King of California. By 1980, Bains owned 12,000 acres in California and Canada.

Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi is the Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PepsiCo, one of the world's leading food and beverage companies. Indra Nooyi has been named 2009 CEO of the Year by Global Supply Chain Leaders Group.

Vikram Pandit is the current CEO of Citigroup.

Norah Jones is an American singer-songwriter, pianist, keyboardist, guitarist, and actress of Anglo-American and Bengali-Indian descent. She is the daughter of sitarist Ravi Shankar. Her career began with her 2002 debut album Come Away with Me, an adult contemporary vocal jazz album with a soul/folk/country tinge, that received five Grammy Awards. She has sold more than 16 million albums in the US and over 36 million records worldwide; altogether, she has sold more albums than any other female jazz artist during the 2000s.

Zubin Mehta was born in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, the son of Mehli and Tehmina Mehta. His father Mehli Mehta was a violinist and founding conductor of the Bombay Symphony Orchestra. In 1978 Mehta became the Music Director and Principal Conductor of the New York Philharmonic. His conducting is also renowned as being flamboyant and forceful in performance.

Kalpen Suresh Modi, best-known by his stage name Kal Penn, is an Indian American film actor and politician who is serving as the Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement in the Barack Obama administration.

Manoj Nelliyattu Shyamalan , known professionally as M. Night Shyamalan, is a two-time Academy Award-nominated Indian-American filmmaker and screenwriter. Shyamalan gained international recognition when he wrote and directed 1999's The Sixth Sense, which was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.

Ashok Amritraj, a Hollywood producer, is Chairman and CEO of Hyde Park Entertainment. He is also a former tennis player and has represented India on an international level. Amritraj has produced over 100 films, including, Jeans and hit hollywood films such as Antitrust, Walking Tall, and Bringing Down the House.

Mira Nair is an Indian film director and producer based in New York. She has won a number of awards, including a National Film Award and various international film festival awards, and was a nominee at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTA Awards and Filmfare Awards.

Padma Parvati Lakshmi, is an Indian American cookbook author, actress, and model. She has been the host of the US reality television program Top Chef since season two. In 2009 she was nominated for an Emmy Award for hosting Top Chef along with Tom Colicchio.

Fareed Rafiq Zakaria is an Indian-American journalist and author. He is the host of CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS. Zakaria is a frequent commentator and author about issues related to international relations, trade and U.S. foreign policy.

Sanjay Gupta is an American neurosurgeon and media personality on health-related issues.He is best known as CNN's chief medical correspondent, hosting the network's weekend health program House Call with Dr. Sanjay Gupta and making frequent appearances on their American Morning, Larry King Live, and Anderson Cooper 360° programs. It was reported that Gupta was offered the position of Surgeon General in the Obama administration. In March 2009, Gupta withdrew his name from consideration for the post.

Jhumpa Lahiri is an Indian American author. Lahiri's debut short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies (1999), won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and her first novel, The Namesake (2003), was adapted into the popular film of the same name.

Vikram Seth is an Indian poet, novelist, travel writer, librettist, children's writer, biographer and memoirist. Seth has published five volumes of poetry.

Mohini Bhardwaj is a retired American gymnast who competed at the 1997 and 2001 World Championships and earned a team silver medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. She is the first Indian-American gymnast, and the second Indian-American athlete overall, ever to medal at the Olympics.

Raj Bhavsar is an American artistic gymnast of Indian descent. He was a member of the 2001 and 2003 World Champion U.S. team. He earned a bronze medal as a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team, becoming the third Indian-American ever to medal at the Olympics, after Mohini Bhardwaj and Alexi Grewal.

Dalip Singh Rana, better known by his ring name The Great Khali, is an Indian professional wrestler, actor, and former powerlifter who won Mr. India in 1995 and 1996. He is currently signed to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) on its SmackDown brand. In WWE, Singh is a one-time World Heavyweight Champion, and has appeared in the films The Longest Yard (2005) and Get Smart (2008).

And we could keep counting the Indian achievers in USA, if only there were no compulsion on word count for this post.

Here are excerpts from Prime Minister's interview with Fareed Zakaria on CNN/GPS (Nov. 22, 2009) which need no further elaboration on the role of Indians in America:

ZAKARIA: When one travels around India these days and reads the newspapers, talks to people, you get a sense of a great deal of connection and interaction with the United States at every level -- at the level of business, at the level of universities. Is the relationship between Indian society and American society actually now stronger than that between the Indian government and the American government?

SINGH: Well, our relations at the people-to-people level are of great significance. The fact that there is a large community in the United States, people of Indian origin, the way they have flourished, the way they have contributed to the growth of the American economy, I think has changed the image of India. And I often say to our guests from abroad that these days, there is hardly a middle class family in India who doesn't have a son, a son-in-law, a brother or a sister, or a sister-in-law in the United States. I think that's a great incentive for our two countries to look to further development of our relationships.

To conclude, here are some facts that forcefully support the above observations on Indian Americans. More than a quarter of all immigrant-funded companies in the last 10 years in the United States were founded by Indian immigrants, a Duke University survey revealed. Indians have founded more engineering and technology companies in the United States in the past decade than immigrants from the United Kingdom, China, Taiwan and Japan combined. Together, this pool of immigrant-founded companies was responsible for generating more than $52 billion in 2005 sales and creating just under 450,000 jobs as of 2005. What is clear is that immigrants have become a significant driving force in the creation of new businesses and intellectual property in the United States – and that their contributions have increased over the past decade. This is what we can confidently call the Exemplary Voice of Indian-Americans.