Category Archives: Administration

Obama re-appoints visually-impaired Indian-American to key admin post

Sachin Dev Pavithran once again becomes a member of the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board

India At Large staff

US President Barack Obama has announced to reappoint Indian-American Sachin Dev Pavithran to a key independent government agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities.

Pavithran has been reappointed as a Member of the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, the White House said as it announced other key administration appointments.

Created in 1973 to ensure access to federally funded facilities, the board is now a leading source of information on accessible design.

“These dedicated individuals bring a wealth of experience and talent to their new roles and I am proud to have them serve in this administration. I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come,” Obama said in a statement on May 5.

Pavithran was first appointed to Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board in 2012 and has served as chair since 2015. He is programme director of Utah assistive technology programme at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities, a position he has held since 2011.

He has served in a variety roles at the centre since 2002, including programme coordinator and Disability Policy Analyst. He has more than 15 years of experience as a consultant in developing, testing, and training users of assistive technology and accessible websites.

The Utah State University alumnus serves on the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs National Board, the Research and Development Committee of the National Federation of the Blind, and the National Multicultural Council of the Association of University Centers for Disabilities.

In 2016, Pavithran was selected as one of Government Technology’s Top 25 Doers, Dreamers & Drivers for his accomplishments in using technology to improve government operations.

Pavithran, now based in Washington, was diagnosed with degenerative blindness after the age of 4. “I could never imagine myself in the path where I am now 10 years back… Then, I was totally dependent on others,” Pavithran, who hails from Kannur in Kerala, was quoted as saying to The New Indian Express in an interview last year.

Leaving India at the age of 17, Sachin did his bachelors and Masters in Computer Science from the Utah State University, US. Afterwards, he took up a job as a computer programmer at the university.

He soon joined a civil services job where he started advocating for equal rights for the differently-abled. He told The New Indian Express, “I first started out as a volunteer after which I became a regular practitioner. Initially it was a job which soon became a passion. My work also involved meeting so many people and it was at this time that I met a very successful lawyer who was also a victim of blindness. I started questioning myself: If he did not let his disability define his life, then why should I?” Soon after, he was appointed to the US Access Board, rising through the ranks to become the chairman.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Pic courtesy: Facebook


The teen who became PM for a day

Punjabi-origin Brampton resident Prabjote Lakhanpal sat on the biggest decision-making chair of Canada, courtesy Make-A-Wish Foundation

India At Large staff

Prabjote ‘PJ’ Lakhanpal, 19, had to pinch himself to see if it was true. Who wouldn’t have, considering he got to be PM for a day? In fact, that was just the first surprise planned for him as part of a “VIP itinerary” that includes a tour of Parliament, a swearing-in ceremony, a media scrum following question period, and — in true prime ministerial fashion — getting his own security detail.

The Brampton teen of Punjabi origin is currently in remission following a battle with Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of cancer affecting the body’s immune system. The disease made him a candidate for Make-A-Wish, a foundation that grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.

“It was amazing to go to Parliament Hill in Ottawa as Prime Minister for a day. No one in any other country can even envisage something like this. I never expected all this even in my wildest dreams,” he told The Times of India.

When Lakhanpal learned that he was eligible to be granted a wish, the politics, economics and law buff knew right away he wanted to be the nation’s leader. “I wanted to come up with a wish that was extraordinary that nobody else has ever done and a wish that you can never buy with money, that is priceless essentially,” the York University student told Metro Morning host Matt Galloway recently. “This is not like going to Disney World.”

Talking to The Times of India, PJ says, “I want to pursue law at Osgood Hall Law School. My ultimate goal is to be a politician, my nation’s leader, so that I may serve the people in a better way.” He said he was thankful to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Canada which made his dream come true. “You know, I’ve battled cancer. There’s nothing worse than that. So, I’m ready to take this on in the future,” he added.

PJ Lakhanpal’s parents and grandparents had migrated from India to Canada from a small town of Punjab, Mandi Ahmedgarh. His father Surinder Mohan Singh Lakhanpal said he came to Canada in 1988 and now runs an auto mechanic shop there.

PJ was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of cancer affecting the body’s immune system. About two and a half years ago, when he was in the hospital, The Make-A-Wish Foundation that grants wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions, made him a candidate for the foundation.

“Prime Minister PJ met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this afternoon in his office to discuss politics, future goals and to share special gifts. They also practiced their official ‘PJ Pose’. Thank you, Prime Minister Trudeau, for granting this magical wish and for helping spread hope, strength and joy! What an exciting day this has been! ‪#‎PjsPMwish‬,” Make-A-Wish Canada was quoted as saying on social media soon after PJ’s wish was fulfilled.

Kuala Lumpur has just appointed its new police commissioner – and he’s an Indian-origin Sikh

amar singh

58-year-old Amar Singh is the first Sikh to achieve the top police post in the Muslim-majority country

India At Large staff

An Indian-origin Sikh has become the police commissioner of Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, the first Sikh to achieve the top police post in the Muslim-majority country. Amar Singh, 58, succeeded Tajuddin Mohamed as the Kuala Lumpur police commissioner on Monday.

In his speech during the ceremony at the city police headquarters, Amar said that his appointment was an honour to the minority races in Malaysia, especially Sikhs who make up only 0.16 per cent of the police force’s manpower, New Straits Times reported.

“This also proves that the force’s leadership are colour-blind in promoting its officers as well as in executing our duties,” he said.

“This shows that our leadership does not discriminate against anyone, regardless of their race or background,” Amar, who was former Kuala Lumpur deputy police chief for several years, said at the handing over of duties ceremony.

He commended his predecessor Tajuddin for bringing the crime index down by 17.6 per cent during his tenure as the city police chief.

Singh’s appointment was announced last month.

A third-generation policeman from his family, he achieved the highest ever rank by a Malaysian Sikh. His father and maternal grandfather were both policemen.

Singh’s father Ishar Singh joined the Federated Malay States Police in 1939, a year after coming to Malaya from Punjab and was a pioneer member of the police jungle squad established during the Emergency.

His maternal grandfather Bachan Singh was a constable who joined the force in the early 1900s.

Singh graduated in BSc from the University of Malaya here and did his LLB from the University of Buckingham, the UK. He has a diploma in Sharia Law.

Pic courtesy: