NOVEMBER 2015
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

Florida News

MISS/TEEN/MRS. INDIA FLORIDA 2015 PAGEANT WINNERS ANNOUNCED

Winners Ritika Singh, left, Aanchal Shah and Chhavi Gupta.

Ritika Singh of Fort Lauderdale, Aanchal Shah of Jacksonville and Chhavi Gupta of Tampa were recently crowned Miss/Teen/Mrs. India Florida 2015 respectively in Tampa.

Miss India 1st Runner-up was Neha Sharma of Jacksonville and 2nd Runner-up was Zeel Patel of Winter Haven. Miss Teen 1st Runner-up was Lea Shah of Jacksonville and 2nd Runner-Up was Niyati Kasiholta of Oviedo. Mrs. India 1st Runner-up was Priyanka Verma of Odessa and 2nd Runner-up was Dhruva Barucha of Tampa. The winners will represent Florida in the Miss/Mrs./Teen India USA at the Royal Albert's Palace in New Jersey on Dec. 6.

Winner Ritika Singh holds a degree in advertising and is a law student at NOVA Southeastern University. Aanchal Shah is a junior at Nease High School and founded a non-profit organization while in seventh grade to help assist women subjected to domestic abuse. Mrs. India Florida Chhavi Gupta is a physician/nephrologist in Tampa Bay and a mother of two daughters. The Florida pageant judges were Bollywood celebrity and activist Somy Ali, former Miss India Florida Roshni Hannon, and former Mrs. India International Priya Gupta.  


Inaugural Tampa Bay Akshaya Patra Raises $150,000

More than 350 people attended an inaugural Tampa Bay Benefit Gala organized by the Akshaya Patra Foundation on Sept. 25. The event raised $150,000 toward Akshaya Patra’s school meal program, enough to provide 10,000 children with school meals for an academic year.

Narayana Murthy, Chairman Emeritus of Infosys and member of Akshaya Patra USA’s Advisory Board, gave the event’s keynote address. Murthy thanked the audience, saying, “It is nice to be amongst you, the heroes, people who are supporting a revolution in their own low-key, but effective manner, people who are wiping the tears from the eyes of the poor children. People who raise the confidence that good things can indeed happen in India.”

He further spoke of Akshaya Patra, saying, “There are lots of children who done extraordinarily well thanks to the work of Akshaya Patra. Some of them have created great futures for themselves; they have become software engineers, they have become doctors. All of these things can happen only if Akshaya Patra has the support of hundreds of thousands of people like you.”

Through its mid-day meal program, Akshaya Patra feeds millions of children in India who have the zeal to learn and achieve, but not the means. By feeding them that one wholesome meal a day, the foundation gives them motivation and nourishment to pursue an education and a better future. The Akshaya Patra Foundation is one of the largest NGO-run school meal programs in the world and serves more than 1.4 million children daily in over 11,600 schools through 24 kitchens in 10 Indian states. It continues to expand its efforts to reach more children and opened its newest kitchen in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. At full capacity, the kitchen can serve 100,000 children daily.

The Tampa Bay chapter seeks volunteers to raise awareness and funds for Akshaya Patra. Interested volunteers can contact Manisha C. Gandhi at Manisha@apusa.org or Piyali Dutta-Campbell at Piyali@apusa.org For more information, visit www.foodforeducation.org 


TransfastSURVEY: INDIANS IN U.S. OVERQUALIFIED FOR JOBS, LESS STRESSED AT WORK

A majority of Indians who live in the United States and send money home say they are overqualified for their jobs here and find their U.S. workplace to be less stressful than workplaces in India. And, while the majority says they plan to retire in India, respondents overwhelmingly agree that the U.S. is the land of opportunity.

That’s based on a survey of nearly 500 people from India who live in the U.S. and send money home, fielded by international money transfer firm Transfast.

Some 83 percent of respondents say they have more skills than required by their jobs in the U.S. and 62 percent describe their U.S. workplace as less stressful than the ones they’d experienced in India.

While most (64 percent) say they earn what they expected, some 61 percent say they work longer hours than anticipated to earn that income, with 60 percent saying they work more than 40 hours a week. Only 39 percent say they work less than expected. Still, the vast majority, 83 percent, agrees that their job offers more opportunities for growth, compared with jobs in India.

“People who come here for work are playing vital economic roles by contributing to the U.S. economy and also adding to the GDP of their home country when they send money back to family and friends,” says Samish Kumar, Transfast’s CEO. “To Transfast, the survey results show that our mission of always providing great value for your money plays a role in helping our customers succeed, because when you’re working long hours, every dollar saved matters.”

When it comes to sending money home, respondents say they have sent money to the following: family (90 percent); personal bank account (31 percent); real estate investment (10 percent); and friends (10 percent).

Ashish Palta, 27, of Nashville, is a business analyst in the IT industry. He came to the U.S. for the international exposure, work environment and to obtain a master’s degree. Working in the U.S. has “given me great international exposure and enriched my professional and life experiences,” says Palta. He says he would encourage friends and family to come to the U.S. to work. “Yes, come to U.S. to see the different culture and another side of the world,” he says. “It makes us more open, knowledgeable and can also give better insight to life.” 

“Definitely, the opportunities are better,” says Bishwambhar Sengupta, 26, a graduate student at Clemson University in Clemson, S.C., who moved to the U.S. to pursue his studies and is also employed by the university in a research capacity. “The American dream still exists, but things are changing,” he adds. “Research funding has been reduced in the past couple of years, combined with stricter immigration laws. It’s becoming harder to stay here once you’re done studying.”

When Transfast conducted the same survey in the U.S. among immigrants from all nationalities, some striking differences emerged. Compared with India, immigrants in the U.S. from around the globe said the U.S. workplace was more stressful (72 percent), nearly the reverse compared with Indian respondents, who said the U.S. workplace was less stressful (62 percent). And compared with general U.S. respondents, only 37 percent of whom are earning what they expected, Indians largely earn what they expected (64 percent).

In the end, many Indians – some 55 percent – expect to retire in their home country. Again, that was in contrast to the general U.S. respondents, only 18 percent of whom say they plan to retire in their home countries.

“I’ll decide when I have to,” says Sengupta about returning to India. “Both job markets are very competitive.”

Transfast is an omni-channel provider of multi-currency cross-border payments solutions to consumers and businesses around the world. The company operates a best-in-class network across more than 120 countries in the Americas, Asia, Europe, Australia and Africa with multi-product capability, including a leading, one-of-a-kind instant bank transfer offering. For information, visit transfast.com 


With Festivities, 21-foot Statue of Adi Yogi Consecrated in Tennessee

An unprecedented event in the history of yoga has been achieved in the Western world with the grand opening of Isha Foundation’s Adiyogi: The Abode of Yoga in McMinnville, Tennessee. The powerful meditation space is a tribute to the Adi Yogi, the world’s first yogi who offered the ancient yogic sciences to the world.

The visually striking, $8 million, 30,000-square-foot abode is a two-level structure housing several unique spaces for yoga and meditation. The main level features a 21-foot statue depicting the Adi Yogi alongside a consecrated copper linga. Lingas, ellipsoid-shaped energy forms, are connected to mysticism and can be seen in many ancient temples of throughout the world.

Adi YogaSadhguru, a mystic of grand proportions, conducted the consecration through the ancient mystical science of prana pratishta, where life energies are used to create a powerful space for one’s spiritual fulfillment and well-being.

“Traditionally, only priests would have access to the linga,” says yogi, mystic and visionary Sadhguru, who founded Isha Foundation. “But this is a powerful energy form that everyone can be in physical contact with.”

A space for inner well-being, Adiyogi: The Abode of Yoga will offer visitors the unique opportunity to imbibe its energy from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. For information, visit www.adiyogi.org

As a premier international yoga organization, Isha Foundation has touched the lives of seven million people from all walks of life worldwide with more than three million volunteers and in over 200 city centers. 


ORLANDO AREA ENGINEER HONORED

MadhanTim Madhanagopal, P.E., BCEE, MBA, F.WEF, F.NSPE, F.FES of Central Florida was recently honored with the American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEI) Award for Service Excellence. ASEI’s National Convention was held in Michigan. He and a few others were recognized for outstanding achievements in engineering and technology.

Madhanagopal serves as plant manager with Orange County Utilities. He has served as Vice-Chair of the ASEI National Board and Vice-President and President of ASEI Florida Chapter. After graduating in civil engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Trichy, the Oviedo resident earned a master's degree in civil/environmental engineering from Wayne State University, Michigan and an MBA from the University of Central Florida. He is a Professional Engineer (PE) and Board Certified in Environmental Engineering (BCEE).   

ASEI provides a platform for networking, career advancement, community service, mentoring and technology exchange for professionals, students and businesses in the United States and abroad.

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