Category Archives: Politics

The Portuguese PM who is of Goan Indian origin

Antonio Costa to visit India in January next year

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Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa will visit India in January next year and is likely to make a trip to Goa. Consul general of Portugal for Goa Rui Baceira told reporters recently that the Portuguese Prime Minister will be visiting India in January 2017, with Goa and Bengaluru being on his travel itinerary.

“The Portuguese Prime Minister is coming to India in January (2017). He is of Goan Indian origin. We are pleased to have him here,” Baceira told reporters on the sidelines of an Independence Day event in Panaji on August 15.

Goa chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar had in March told the state legislative assembly that he would invite Costa to Goa.

The lawyer turned politician has been PM since November 26, 2015. Previously he was minister of parliamentary affairs from 1997 to 1999, minister of justice from 1999 to 2002, minister of state and internal administration from 2005 to 2007, and mayor of Lisbon from 2007 to 2015. He was elected as secretary-general of the Socialist Party in September 2014.

Costa was born in 1961 in Lisbon, the son of writer Orlando da Costa. His father was of Goan, Portuguese and French descent. His mother was Maria Antónia Palla, a Portuguese journalist and recognised feminist activist.

Costa studied law in the 1980s in Lisbon, when he first entered politics and was elected as a Socialist deputy to the municipal council. He later practised law briefly from 1988, before entering politics full-time.

In 1987, Costa married Fernanda Maria Gonçalves Tadeu, a teacher. The couple have a son and a daughter.

Costa is an avid Benfica fan, being a frequent attendant to the games as Lisbon mayor, as opposed to Sporting Lisbon’s. He also accompanied Benfica to both Europa League finals, in 2013 and 2014.

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This Sikh woman has just become Canada’s 1st woman House leader

Bardish Chagger, the 36-year-old Waterloo MP and the country’s minister of small business and tourism, was among 19 Indian-origin candidates who won in last year’s general elections

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Indo-Canadian MP Bardish Chagger has been named the new leader of the government in Canada’s House of Commons, thus becoming the first woman in the country’s history to hold the post, reports PTI.

Chagger, the 36-year-old Waterloo MP and minister of small business and tourism, was among 19 Indian-origin candidates who won in last year’s general elections.

“This is a tremendous opportunity. I have been involved in the political process for basically my whole life,” Chagger told reporters on Parliament Hill after her swearing-in. “I know what democracy should look like. Democracy should be engaging Canadians. That is the leadership of our prime minister and that’s why the whole of government approach will work for Canada,” she was quoted as saying by CBC News.

Replacing Dominic LeBlanc, she is now the first woman in Canadian history to hold the job of guiding government legislation through Parliament.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his “confidence in minister Chagger as a worthy successor”, the report said, citing a government statement.

On the first day on the job, Chagger said she “really does believe that we can all work together”. “…let’s work with the team and let’s get there,” she said.

Chagger, who was born and raised in the Waterloo region, attended the University of Waterloo where she was the president of the Young Liberals. She will retain her title as minister along with the new role.

She is one of the four Sikh Canadians inducted into Trudeau’s Cabinet besides defence minister Harjit Sajjan – a combat veteran who did three tours in Afghanistan as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, infrastructure minister Amarjeet Sohi and innovation minister Navdeep Singh Bains.

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This Indian-American teen was the centre of attraction at Democratic National Convention

18-year-old Harvard University student Sruthi Palaniappan is a big supporter of Hillary Clinton

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An 18-year-old Indian-American girl became the youngest delegate at the recently concluded Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, which nominated Hillary Clinton as the party’s presidential candidate, reports PTI.

Sruthi Palaniappan from Cedar Rapids and a student of the Harvard University is a big supporter of Clinton, the first woman to be nominated as a presidential candidate by a major political party. Her father Palaniappan Andiappan also attended the convention as a member of the credentials committee.

Palaniappan was the centre of attraction among the media and the delegates along with Jerry Emmett, a 102-year-old delegate from Arizona who was the oldest delegate at the convention. In addition to being the youngest delegate, Palaniappan made history when she was given an opportunity to represent Iowa during roll call votes.

“I am extremely thankful for the surreal opportunity to have represented the Iowa delegation as a roll call speaker and to have been a part of the historic nomination process of our next president,” she told PTI. “Together, we have made history by electing the first woman presidential nominee of a major political party- Hillary Rodham Clinton,” Palaniappan wrote on her Facebook post.

Palaniappan said being elected as the party’s delegate was a long process. “But I’m extremely glad that I have been able to immerse myself at every step along the way and witness the political process first-hand,” she said.

Highly impressed by the electrifying speech given by President Barack Obama, Palaniappan said the American Dream is something no wall will ever contain. “President Barack Obama, thank you for gracing us with your beautifully moving words. It was simply an honour to be in your presence and witness the pure emotion that emanated from your voice.

“Obama’s legacy and efforts will live on when Clinton and her vice presidential running mate Tim Kaine become the new President and Vice President of the United States,” she said.

“We really do need to unite together in order to defeat the Republican nominee (Donald Trump). If we let Donald Trump take over the presidency, really terrible things will take our county several steps back,” Palaniappan was quoted as saying by the local KCRG TV.

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Neera Tanden makes a strong case for Hillary as POTUS

45-year-old Indian-American makes political debut on national stage at recently-concluded Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia

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For presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, politics is all about fighting for people, not when the cameras are on but when they are off, Indian- American Neera Tanden said in her political debut on the national stage at the Democratic party convention in Philadelphia recently.

Tanden, 45, was invited by the Democratic leadership and the Clinton Campaign to address the recently concluded Democratic National Convention.

Tanden, who is currently president of the Center for American Progress, a progressive public policy research and advocacy organisation based in Washington DC, narrated her personal story to make a strong case for Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States.

“It’s truly an honour for me to address this convention.  Because frankly, I would not be here without the policies of the democratic party,” said Tanden, a close confidant of Clinton. “My parents got divorced when I was five years old. My father left for a time, and my mother had to be on welfare,” she added.

She worked hard to support me and my brother…We used lunch of vouchers at school and food stamps at the supermarket. “After we moved out of our house, a federal subsidy let us to get an apartment and stay in a town with good public schools,” she said recollecting her childhood days.

“It wasn’t easy, but we eventually got back on our feet because of the investment democrats have made in struggling families like mine,” she said amidst applause from the audience that had several thousand Democratic party delegates and party leaders in attendance.

Born in Bedford, Massachusetts to immigrant parents from India, Tanden graduated from UCLA in 1992 and received her degree from Yale Law School in 1996. She is married to Ben Edwards, an artist she met while working on the Michael Dukakis campaign.

Tanden, who is speculated as a potential cabinet appointee in Hillary’s administration, said she knows first-hand that the decisions leaders make, makes all the difference in people’s lives.

“That is why I direct public policy, and that is why I am so very proud to support Hillary Clinton. For decades, Hillary has campaigned on issues that matter to working families. Childcare, paid leave, equal pay,” the Indian-American leader said.

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Look who’s just bagged a junior minister’s post in the new UK govt

Indian-origin MP Alok Sharma named Parliamentary under secretary of state at the foreign and commonwealth office

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British lawmaker Alok Sharma has been named Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), becoming the second Indian- origin minister in Prime Minister Theresa May’s Cabinet.

The 48-year-old MP for Reading West, who had previously served in a special role of infrastructure envoy for India in the David Cameron-led government, was named in the latest set of junior ministerial posts announced by Downing Street recently.

He was first elected to the British parliament in May 2010 and was re-elected in May 2015 from Reading West. In his new role in the FCO, Sharma will work closely with newly-appointed foreign secretary Boris Johnson and is likely to be handed the charge of Indian affairs.

The minister who previously held the position, Hugo Swire, has resigned from the government along with Indian-origin peer Baroness Sandip Verma, who had served as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for International Development (DfID) in the Cameron government.

The new Secretary of State in charge of DfID had been announced as Priti Patel last week.

While Patel had been a vocal supporter of Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU), fellow Indian-origin MP Sharma had campaigned for Remain and even set up a cross-party group called British-Indians for IN.

Their presence in the Cabinet reflects May’s broader attempt at balancing her Cabinet with pro- and anti-Brexit campaigners as her government begins the process of the UK leaving the economic bloc.

Born in India, Sharma grew up in Earley and Whitley Wood and went to Reading Blue Coat School in Sonning and Salford University where he received a BSc in Applied Physics with electronics in 1988.

Sharma subsequently qualified as a chartered accountant, training with Deloitte Haskins & Sells in Manchester before moving into corporate finance advisory with Nikko Securities and then Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, where he held senior roles based out of London, Stockholm and Frankfurt. Alok advised corporates and private equity firms on cross border mergers and acquisitions, listings and restructurings.

Sharma is currently a governor of a local primary school in Reading. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society for the advancement of the Arts, Manufacturing and Commerce. Previously, he served as a chairman of the political think tank Bow Group’s economic affairs committee. In 2013, he was appointed as the Conservative vice-chairman for BME Communities.

Sharma is married and lives in Reading Borough with his wife, two daughters and his dog Olly.

Pic courtesy: www.aloksharma.co.uk

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Meet Sasindran Muthuvel, the first Indian-origin governor of a Papua New Guinea province

41-year-old Sivakasi native landed in country over 20 years ago in search of livelihood

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For Sasindran Muthuvel, the first Indian-origin governor of province in Papua New Guinea (PNG), it has been an eventful journey since he left Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu in search of livelihood over 20 years ago.

As per PTI, 41-year-old Muthuvel went to PNG to take up a job as a manager in a retail shop. “I thought I will be getting closer to Australia and later I will migrate to that country as a skilled immigrant,” he recalled.

But destiny had planned something else for him. The shop was shut down and he started his own outlet which expanded into a chain. With rising popularity, he decided to jump into the electoral fray and became Governor of West New Britain in 2009. “I came to Malaysia in 1995 after completing Bachelor of Science in Horticulture, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Periyakulam and spotted an advertisement in a newspaper in 1997 about an opening in PNG,” he told PTI.

“It is actually this advertisement which changed my life completely,” he said.

Muthuvel became manager of a retail outlet which was owned by a Singaporean national. But, unfortunately, his owner decided to wind up business there and return. “I was shocked with the sudden turn of events. I was left with two options – either to return or to find my way out in the Island and I chose the latter,” he said, adding with a smile, “I do not have any regrets.”

Muthuvel started a small chain of retail outlets by the name of Hamammas which means ‘I am happy’ in the local language and returned home to get married. His wife, Subha, hails from Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.

Both husband and wife worked hard to expand their business. They also started charity work and extended help to the needy. “I do not know how I became popular but then I decided to jump into the electoral arena as I got my citizenship in May 2007. I floated a new party and contested the elections and won. Later I joined the ruling People’s National Party,” he said.

The initial years were tough. “I have survived merely on rice and yogurt for nearly a year till I started cooking local green vegetables,” Muthuvel, who is a vegetarian, said. “I used to miss my sambar and rice and other vegetarian delicacies of my state but as they say when the going gets tough, the tough get going,” he said.

The governor, who was awarded ‘Pravasi Bhartiya Samman Award’ by Indian Government in 2012, feels that there is a lot of potential for Indian companies to set up their base in PNG.

“The operating cost may be high but the profit is equally high,” he said. “I am looking forward to Indian companies coming here and helping us in areas like growing rice and other vegetables, exploration of oil and natural gas, gold mining,” he said, adding: “I hope that they (Indian businessmen) will come one day.”

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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

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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.

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A burger in honour of Canada’s first Sikh defence minister Harjit Sajjan

The snack has been named ‘The Minister of National Deliciousness’

harjit-sajjan-burger

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Canada’s first Sikh defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan now has a chicken burger named after him and it is called ‘The Minister of National Deliciousness’.

Sajjan tasted the burger for the first time at the Cannibal Cafe in Vancouver recently. Sajjan, who represents the riding of Vancouver-South, was in town for his government’s first ministers’ meeting. The politician decided to stop by the eatery to try out his namesake burger.

He later tweeted, “National Deliciousness indeed! Tried my namesake burger at Vancouver’s The Cannibal Cafe and was not disappointed.”

The master chef behind the burger, Zai Kitagawa, said that he started thinking of the burger right after Sajjan’s appointment. “If there’s a man that a Canadian can be proud of, it’s definitely Mr Sajjan,” he said.

The ‘Minister of National Deliciousness’ burger features a tandoori-spiced chicken patty smothered in butter chicken sauce, jalapeno and pressed yogurt with mint, cilantro, lettuce, tomato and cucumbers. Kitagawa even included onion pakodas to give the burger a Punjabi flavour.

The 45-year-old Sajjan was named Canada’s defence minister in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 30-member Liberal cabinet in November last year.

Before politics, Sajjan was a detective investigating gangs for the Vancouver Police Department and a regimental commander in the Canadian Armed Forces decorated for his service in Afghanistan. Sajjan was also the first Sikh-Canadian to command a Canadian army reserve regiment.

Sajjan was born in Bombeli, a village in the Hoshiarpur district of Punjab, India. He along with his mother and older sister immigrated to Canada in 1976 when he was five years old to rejoin their father who had left for British Columbia two years prior to work in a sawmill.

While his family was getting established in their new life in Canada, his mother worked on berry farms in BC’s Lower Mainland during the summer, and Sajjan and his sister would frequently join her. Sajjan grew up in a neighbourhood in South Vancouver. Sajjan’s father Kundan Sajjan was a police officer in India, and is a member of the World Sikh Organization (WSO), a Sikh advocacy group.

He married Kuljit Kaur Sajjan, a family doctor, in 1996, and has a son and a daughter with her.

Pics courtesy: Twitter

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More than just a ‘Priti’ picture: This Indian-origin woman is leading the ‘Brexit’ campaign

Priti Patel, the senior-most British Indian member of David Cameron’s cabinet, is part of the ‘leave’ camp, which favours Britain’s exit (or ‘Brexit’) from the European Union in the referendum

 

priti-patel2

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Priti Patel says quitting Europe will make Britain stronger. The senior-most Indian-origin member of David Cameron’s cabinet, is part of the ‘leave’ camp, which favours ‘Brexit’ or Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) in the referendum.

On February 20, Cameron, Britain’s Prime Minister, set June 23 as the date for a referendum on the country’s membership of the EU. His announcement followed a protracted renegotiation of the current conditions of Britain’s membership at a summit in Brussels. The move immediately prompted government ministers to declare their backing for either the ‘remain’ or ‘leave’ campaigns.

“For 41 years, the British public have been denied a referendum on Europe, and their say on the powers and money that Brussels has taken from us. They now have the chance to hold its undemocratic and unaccountable institutions to account by voting to leave the EU,” Patel, the 43-year-old employment minister, was quoted as saying by Daily Mail.

“I believe we can only safeguard Britain’s future by once again becoming a genuinely sovereign country, with British laws being made in the British Parliament in the interests of the British people,” she adds.

In the context of British Indians, Patel has used the country’s love for Indian food, dubbed curry, to make her case stronger. She says membership of the EU meant unmanageable levels of European migration which led to Indian chefs being denied visas. “There are over 12,000 Indian restaurants in the UK. But the future of this sector is under pressure and at risk while we remain in the EU,” Patel was quoted as saying at a gathering in London recently by Newsgram.

Along with MPs Kwasi Kwarteng, Dominic Raab, Chris Skidmore and Elizabeth Truss, Patel is part of the five-strong “Class of 2010” seen to represent the party’s “new Right”. She voted against gay marriage, campaigned against the smoking ban and once referred to British workers as “among the worst idlers in the world”.

On economic matters, she’s an unapologetic Thatcherite. The former prime minister had a “unique ability to understand what made people tick”, Patel said of her idol, Margaret Thatcher, in an interview with Total Politics. “Managing the economy, balancing the books and making decisions – not purchasing things the country couldn’t afford.”

Born in London to Gujarati parents who fled Uganda in the 1960s, 43-year-old Patel is a graduate of Keele University, where she studied economics, sociology and social anthropology. After graduating, she spent several years working in press relations and consultancy, including a controversial stint representing British American Tobacco.

She became a card-carrying Conservative aged 18 and first fought for a seat in 2005, unsuccessfully fighting to become MP for Nottingham North. However, new leader David Cameron identified her as a promising young talent and she was parachuted into the safe Tory seat of Witham, where she was duly elected in 2010. Following the 2015 general election, she was named employment minister in the Department for Work and Pensions.

She is also married and has a seven-year-old son.

Pics courtesy: The Telegraph, UK

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Why these Indian Americans want Donald Trump to sit in the White House

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Donald’s Trump’s controversial remarks have got caused a lot of controversy. His racist slur against Sikhs and his controversial remarks against Muslims had alienated the Indian-American community against him, or so it seemed. But  a group of Indian-Americans are not praising Trump, they are also doing their best to ensure that he enters the Oval office as president. As a result, forums have been created on Facebook and Twitter  called ‘Hindus for Trump’ and ‘Indian Americans for Trump 2016’ by these supporters. They have even dared to depict him as Vishnu (see pic below).
HindusForTrump

The group which has gained considerable media interest in both India and the US has currently an estimated  400 followers on Facebook.

DEVENDRA_MAKKAR_Family

In a conversation with online portal The Quint, Dave Makkar (seen with his family, above), treasurer and spokesperson for ‘Indian-Americans for Trump 2016’,  claimed that Trump had been misrepresented and that his group would help  redress the balance.

“Donald Trump never called the Sikh turban a hat. The views of Trump about minority communities have been twisted and taken out of context. In fact, a group of Sikhs in Washington DC, Maryland have formed an organisation under the banner ‘American-Sikhs for Trump’…‘Indian Americans for Trump 2016’ respects Donald Trump’s campaign finance policy to not accept money from PAC (Political Action Committee for campaigns in United States),” Makkar told The Quint.

Makkar will however have a tough time convincing members of his community. Surveys suggest that an estimated 80% of the India-American community are against Trump and will vote Democrat in the US elections.

Azamgarh-born entrepreneur and philanthropist Frank Islam, who believes that “Trump is the ugly face of America,” has already raised an estimated half-a-million dollars for Hillary’s campaign in this election.  Others like Huma Abedin who is Hillay Clinton’s media advisor, Neera Tanden and Shefali Razdan Duggal are working round-the-clock for the Democrat candidate. Their strategy is simple: do whatever it takes to make Trump lose.

Pics courtesy: Hindus for Trump, Dave Makkar, frankislam.com