Michigan Indian Community Blog

Sharing News, Events and Blog Posts from our community

Browsing Posts published by Virender Ajmani

Congratulations to Indian American teenager Nithin Reddy Tumma (17) (resident of Fort Gratiot near Port Huron, Michigan) for winning $100,000 prize in the prestigious Intel Science Talent competition for his research on devising a more effective and less toxic breast cancer treatment.

Tumma won the top honors in the competition that also saw two other Indian Americans – Neel Patel from Florida and Anirudh Prabhu from Indiana – finding a place in the top 10.

The winners overcame tough competition from a group of 40 finalists, seven of them Indian Americans, in what is touted as the toughest national science competition. The 40 finalists met President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday.

Tumma analysed the molecular mechanisms in cancer cells and found that by inhibiting certain proteins, the growth of cancer cells may be slowed and their malignancy decreased.

Placed sixth, Neel Patel of Florida received a $25,000 award for studying how non-speech patterns of sounds called sonifications can convey information, which could lead to a computer-user interface as revolutionary as the graphical interface was 30 years ago.

Prabhu from Indiana received a $25,000 for the seventh spot for his investigation of the odd-perfect number problem, and his suggestion that odd perfect numbers do not exist.

(via Economic Times and Zee News)

Just finished reading Neeraj Warikoo’s article on Swami Vivekananda in today’s Detroit Free Press. Its a interesting read and I encourage everyone to read the article. This year is the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.

During his life, Vivekananda lectured often in cities such as Detroit, Boston and New York.

Vivekananda came to Detroit twice, in 1894 and 1896, speaking to standing-room-only audiences in churches, a synagogue, and downtown hotels. He stayed for three weeks as a guest in the home of then-Gov. John J. Bagley, meeting political and social leaders in Detroit. He also was a guest of Sen. Thomas Palmer; both Palmer and Bagley were Unitarians, a group drawn to Vivekananda’s message.

“Every human being would be made better by knowing him,” wrote Frances Bagley, the wife of the Michigan governor. “I want everyone in America to know Vivekananda. … He has given us in America higher ideas of life than we have ever had before.”

On Feb. 14, 1894, Vivekananda spoke to a packed crowd at the Unitarian Church in Detroit.

“His eloquent and graceful manner pleased his listeners … showing approval by outbursts of applause,” the Free Press wrote. “The Eastern brother is most impressive.”

The Detroit Journal wrote that if Vivekananda “could be induced to remain for a week longer, the largest hall in Detroit would not hold the crowds which would be anxious to hear him. … Every seat in the Unitarian church was occupied, and many were compelled to stand.”

During his lectures in Detroit, Vivekananda sought to explain Hinduism, telling people, “You are not sinners, you are divine,” Vengadam said.

On March 15, 1896, Vivekananda spoke at Temple Beth-El in Detroit — Michigan’s first Jewish congregation — telling the crowd that respecting diversity is important. The crowd was so big that “hundreds … had to be turned away,” reported the News Tribune.

“Unity in variety is the plan of the universe,” Vivekananda told the crowd. “We must not seek that all of us should think alike. … Difference of thought … is the very soul of progress.”

At the Bhartiya Temple in Troy, Vivekananda’s message will be discussed today at a lecture, one of several such events the temple is holding to remember the man who introduced Indian philosophy to the West.

Short Story submitted by Blogger Sandeep Shabd (Metro Detroit)

Sent to Space

I saw a dream that I wanted to go to moon. But the main problem was how I can go there.  So, I went searching for NASA.

NASA had an idea. The scientists gathered around me as an object of experiment. They checked whether I am healthy enough for travelling to changing atmospheric pressure. They said air gets thinner as you go up and up. I looked at the sky and thought these scientists are crazy. If air gets thinner, clouds should be on earth. Clouds are dense. God knows how these scientists got recruited in NASA.

Anyhow, they said I am fit and fine. They made me sit on their bladeless helicopter and sent me to their rocket center.


After an air filled journey, I reached the rocket center.  They showed me a rocket that was about to take off. I said ‘Yeah Baby!! Take me to the moon.’  Soon, a group of astronaut (pronounced ass-trot-not) in their big bulky jacket , gathered around me and then tied me to the rocket using a long rope.  They took out matchsticks and put fire on the tail of the rocket and the rocket took off.


At some point, rocket reached outer space. The fuel in rocket got over. They had filled the tank only half-full as they said fuel imports from mid-east has become costlier. Please try to use fuel as less as possible.  They had even handed me a pamphlet to read about solar energy while I was traveling towards moon.  As a result, I was left hanging somewhere in space. It was icy cold there.  Here in the unknown co-ordinate position, it’s more icy condition than Detroit and this time too, I forgot my jacket.  I felt that I am  freezing and so I woke up to realize my room heater is off.

Guest Post by our Newest Blogger Sarwat Sayed. She is a member of Executive Board of CAPA. Her article was published by The Detroit News and the Real Clear Politics in 2010. Her passion for peace and unity motivated her to start a Fanpage ‘Spread Love,’ and her website HighEndTalk is seeking good writers who can present ideas to help solve current problems in our community.

Do you enjoy sitting next to someone at a party who won’t touch that “yummy” cake? Forget about the cake, they would hardly have anything on their plate. They’ll gain an extra 0.03lbs. Come on? I mean, what a sad life? :D  No offense here, although if you want to take it, be my guest!

On the other hand, if you have diseases running in your family, you ought to be more careful.  Don’t eat that chocolate fudge for breakfast at least.  It’s all about balancing our life, and many times, it is not as difficult as it looks. However, if you have not gained 50lbs, at least twice in your life (and not just because you got pregnant), lost it, and are successfully continuing the struggle to keeping it off, then please, and I repeat, please STOP advising and criticizing those who are seriously struggling with this issue. It doesn’t help. It just annoys people. For you, my advice is different: “It is more difficult than it looks.” Yes, I find it hard to resist that luscious chocolate fudge. I have gained over and over again, lost, and continue the struggle with decent success!

I have also met those who are extremely thin, in spite of their normal diet. They are dying to put on that extra pound. They just can’t. Sometimes, you’ll find them criticizing heavier people, but forgive them, because inside they are hurting just as much. They would love to gain those extra 20 pounds. I believe at some point in their life, everyone, men and women, experiences this pain. They have either a little too much, or a little too less of something. Either way, it keeps them unsatisfied. My “gain” comes right on my
hips and thighs. For several years, it drove me nuts, frustrated me, and
made me feel not wanting to go out. (To a lesser extent, it still does). As soon as they find me not paying attention, those fatty pounds would jump right back on my hips. Somewhat, like that guy above. I was going to die exercising and starving. Shit!

Then, the most beautiful thing happened. I read poems written by the famous Indian poet, Kalidas. The description of women in his poems is enchanting, and the important thing is, these “dames” get to keep their “curves” with dignity. Their “curves” are not a curse. On the contrary, it adds to their beauty. I said to myself, ‘heck, if it’s
good for them, it’s good for me.” Of course, I shouldn’t get carried away! As long as we are disciplined enough to know when to eat a little more and when to control, we’re good.

Remember, having issues with body image is the
case with most of us. It’s this fatal hormone in most of us that keeps us from enjoying life. It makes us feel that the grass is “greener”
on the other side. “Boo-hoo, Mr. Fatal Hormone. You’re just misleading. I quit being your slave.” Be grateful that you  have the body parts you worry so much about, unlike those who are born without them, or have lost them due to an accident or disease. We are beautiful and that is a fact! Can you look for beauty in yourself and others?

Guest Post by Anuja Rajendra CEO of Bollyfit.

As the founder of a company called BollyFit, and someone who adores numerous facets of what ‘Bollywood’, also known as the Hindi Film Industry, brings to people around the world, I feel like I’m about to burst a beautiful, big screen bubble. But it must be said, so here goes…

I am embarrassed by the sheer lack of clothing the directors are putting on women in Hindi film songs today. As a girl who grew up aspiring to be like the actresses in Bollywood movies, now I’m finding it easy not to have star envy. More and more Indian actresses are succumbing to the call to de-clad, often times without purpose. To me, the additional skin does not add to the song or perpetuate the plots of most of the songs or movies.

I am a modern, forward-thinking woman, yet I yearn for the days when there was some subtlety. When everything, and then some, was not given away. Today, with just about any song featured in a Hindi movie, there is skin—skin everywhere. I don’t feel this is an issue of feminism and women’s rights. Yes, we have a right to be free. I certainly wear what I want, when I want. But I wonder what has happened to the damsel – does being dressed mean she is in distress?  What is the purpose of the bra-underwear getups? OK, I’m not a moron. It draws eyes, envy, excitement, and money in the bank. But more and more, I find my own eyes downcast while watching a Hindi movie; whereas as a young girl watching, they used to glisten to the geets (songs) and glow green, wishing I could be on the screen.

I posted the video of the recent hit song “Chammak Challo” from the Hindi film Ra One on the BollyFit facebook page (hey, like us at facebook.com/bollyfit). Sophie, a friend and BollyFit student, commented what was in my heart, what made me think thrice before I even posted the link. She wrote, “Video is a blast! And the guys wear long skirts while the girls wear short, umm…”

And she is being kind. They are short skirts… and very short, bra-like tops. It’s not just this particular song; it is in almost every Bollywood video these days. And it’s not just the background dancers; almost every heroine’s get-up seems to require a completely bare midriff.

Is this to try to catch up to the West? Or, at least, the perception of the West—since we have the same problem in our own music videos.  I want to scream, “What do you think?! That us women who live in the West walk around like this? That you are now catching up?! That this is taking India to the next century and will help the country compete with China?”

It feels like a personal and cultural loss. On our family’s visit to India this December, I was so excited for my kids to watch movies and see songs on the regional movie and music video channels. But I found myself constantly grabbing the remote and changing the channel or turning off the TV altogether because the clothes were so, so scant and the moves were so sordid for the innocent eyes of my six-and-a-half and five-year-old boys!

I realize that Bollywood movies have long featured minimally clad background dancers and, yes, the heroines of my childhood (Rekha and Madhuri Dixit, to name a few) often played non-chaste roles too. But there were subtlety and shawls. Today there is sexuality and skin everywhere. At least back then, families could watch many of the musicals together, or at least the songs, if the movie content was too mature.

Perhaps I’m the only one who misses the days of the umbrella covering up the kiss. Of the wet white sari covering the demure décolleté. Yes, both India and the Hindi film industry should and are evolving with the times, beyond repression. And I agree that if we do it in the West, then of course Indians should, too …and do!

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Although I lived in India for six years as a child, I was born and raised in the U.S. and continue to live here. So who am I to tell the Indian film industry what to do? Well, I’m a girl who adored Hindi movies. Today, I am a mother of impressionable young boys. I am missing being able to share one of the joys of my own childhood with my sons, because I’m just not comfortable doing so at their impressionable young age.

I am also a businesswoman directly affected by this issue. My company, BollyFit, features Bollywood movies and even has “Bolly” in the name! I adore the moves and music and so many of the current songs, but I cringe at the thought of friends and the public seeing many of the current song videos, lest they think that ‘bare-midriff required’ is what India is all about. And, worse for me, that that is what my interpretation of Bollywood is about. It’s not; come see and dance for yourself! Yes, our clothes and costumes are part of the fun for stage events, but they are not necessary to enjoy the best of Bollywood and BollyFit… the joy, idealism, vibrancy, connectedness, and fun.

I understand the need for certain costumes in certain scenes, but it seems to be a more indiscriminate decision these days—‘When you have a song, show the skin’ is the mantra. 

Be sure to check out the engaging conversation, inspired by this blog, that is taking place at https://www.facebook.com/BollyFit/posts/286951868039098.

If you like what we are doing, be sure to like us at Facebook.com/bollyfit smile

National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign sponsored annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics formerly known as American Dietetic Association. The campaign is designed to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. National Nutrition Month also promotes the Academy and its members to the public and the media as the most valuable and credible source of timely, scientifically based food and nutrition information. In lieu of National Nutrition Month, Michigan Indian Community Member Aarti Batavia Mehta who is a Michigan Dietetic Association spokesperson approached the Novi City Clerk with a request for a proclamation from the Mayor.

So what are Proclamations? Quoting Aarti

Proclamations are typically issued by the Mayor to recognize the importance of a community event, significant achievements by a community member, or to signal role in significant national events. These mayoral proclamations typically must have a specific connection to the city, such as highlighting an event taking place, in this case, it was declaring March as National Nutrition Month. The Proclamation was read by Mayor Bob Gatt at a City Council meeting on February 21st and I was then asked to say a few words. This proclamation will also be posted on the City’s website.

Congratulations Aarti!! We are proud of you.

Congratulations to the talented Saarang Sane of Michigan who recently won Bollywood Idol 2012. Bollywood Idol 2012 is a Music contest for the Singers around the US, organized by Maharashtra Mandal of Detroit in Michigan. The Mega finals was held in Novi, Michigan. In addition, Saarang had recently also won the Indian Kareoke Idol 2011 award.

Saarang Sane is originally from Pune, India. While in India Saarang grabbed many awards along with the prestigious Pune Idol award. He was a playback singer for Marathi films and two Australian albums. Saarang got a break from Mr.Mohankumar Bhandari of Pune. Mr. Bhandari was the same person who gave a break to Sonu Nigam.

Anyone heard of Manoj Bhargava?? Not me.. until I read the Forbes article today titled “The Mystery Monk Making Billions With 5-Hour Energy”. Yes the man behind that 5-Hour Energy drink is right in our backyards – Manoj Bhargava from Farmington Hills. According to Forbes, Manoj Bhargava’s company, Living Essentials, is the biggest player by far in the ­energy-shot market.

Manoj Bhargava was born in India in the prosperous northern city of Lucknow. He left with his parents for America in 1967, so his academic publisher father could get a Ph.D. at Wharton.

About Manoj Bhargava from Forbes:

He won a full scholarship to the Ivy League feeder Hill School before heading to college at Princeton in 1972. Bhargava lasted a year. The pretentious eating-club culture wasn’t really for him, and he didn’t find his math classes particularly challenging. “‘Annoyed’ would be a mild word for my parents’ reaction,” he says. He returned to Fort Wayne, Ind., where his parents had settled and his father owned a plastics company. “There were no jobs; it was a disaster,” he says. “It was right before the oil embargo, the stagflation era.” He started reading books about a Hindu saint who’d spent his life on a spiritual quest. That, he thought, was something worthwhile. In 1974 he moved to India

Bhargava says he spent his 20s traveling between monasteries owned and tended by an ashram called Hanslok. He and his fellow disciples weren’t monks, exactly. “It’s the closest Western word,” he says. “We didn’t have bowler haircuts or robes or bells.” It was more like a commune, he says, but without the drugs. He did his share of chores, helped run a printing press and worked construction for the ashram. Bhargava claims he spent those 12 years trying to master one technique: the stilling of the mind, often through meditation. He still considers himself a member of the Hanslok order and spends an hour a day in his Farmington Hills basement in contemplative silence.

Bhargava would return to the U.S. periodically during his ashram years, working odd jobs before returning to India. For a few months he drove a yellow cab in New York. When he moved back from India for good, it was to help with the family plastics business at his parents’ urging. He spent the next decade dabbling in RV armrests and beachchair parts. He had no interest in plastics whatsoever but devoted himself to buying small, struggling regional outfits and turning them around. By 2001 Bhargava had expanded his Indiana PVC manufacturer from zero sales to $25 million (he eventually sold it to a private equity firm for $20 million in 2006). He decided to retire and moved to Michigan to be near his wife’s family. “Nobody moves on purpose to Detroit,” he says. His retirement lasted two months. He knew from his plastics success that the chemicals industry was ripe for exploiting. “Chemicals are really simple,” he says. “You mix a couple things together and sell it for more than the materials cost.”

Read more about Manoj Bhargava’s fascinating story in FORBES.

Detroit Free Press is reporting that a gurdwara under construction in Sterling Heights was vandalized late Sunday evening. Some of the graffiti reads: “Don’t Builed” and “Mohmed,” which seems to refer to Islam’s prophet, Mohammed.

The Michigan chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the American Jewish Committee also condemned the vandalism.

“We condemn the vandalism of the Sikh house of worship in Sterling Heights and call on local and federal law enforcement to use their full resources to apprehend the perpetrators of this hate crime,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Muslim council.

“The attack on any house of worship in our community is despicable, and we are pained to see the Sikh community targeted,” said Kari Alterman of the Jewish committee. We look to law enforcement to investigate this act, and arrest those responsible.”

The gurdwara is being built on Dequindre Road (just North of 14 mile road). Here’s a Google Street View look of the construction site.

Guest Post by my nephew Tim Ajmani (Pensacola, Florida)

And then there were four… The NFL Divisional Playoffs completed last weekend, leaving four teams left. I was terrible on my picks. I underestimated the 49ers, Patriots, and Giants. The 49ers game against the Saints will probably go down as the best game of the season, unless this upcoming weekend or the Super Bowl top it. Alex Smith silenced many of his critics last weekend, leading two touchdown drives in the final three minutes to “upset” Drew Brees and the high-flying Saints.

Last week also saw the end of Tim Tebow’s miraculous 2011-2012 NFL season. Despite losing 45-10 to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, Tebow surpassed everyone’s expectations of him coming into the season. Tebow started the season as low as the fourth string quarterback on the Denver Broncos depth chart, but finished it as the unquestioned starter and leader of the team. His season will go down as one of the most unlikely in NFL history; Personally, I can’t wait to see what he does with a full NFL offseason going into next year.

The Patriots, meanwhile, will face the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship with the right to go to the Super Bowl. The Patriots have that look of the same lethal team that went undefeated in the 2007 regular season and playoffs and reached the Super Bowl. Which brings me to the… New York Giants: the team that ended the Patriots run in that Super Bowl. The Giants are red-hot. A week after smothering the Falcons offense, the Giants defense made Aaron Rodgers look rather ordinary, in a seventeen point beatdown of the defending Super Bowl champions.

Could the Giants and Patriots meet again in February’s Super Bowl? They will have to get past the 49ers and Ravens first. So far in the playoffs, I’ve been extremely bad at picking games. However, I intend on stopping my skid, which goes back to Week 16 of the NFL season. My picks for Championship Weekend…

Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots – Sunday 2:00 CT

The last time the Ravens and Patriots met in a playoff game was a first round matchup in Foxboro two seasons ago. The Ravens smacked the Patriots in that game, winning 33-14. However, the Patriots were without receiver Wes Welker in that game. They also didn’t have Aaron Hernandez or Rob Gronkowski on their roster at the time. This Patriots offense looks simply unstoppable right now. They will get tested against one of the best defenses in the NFL. The key to the game lies with the Ravens offense. They will need to score early and often. If the Ravens offense can’t do that, the Patriots will blow them off the field. I think the Patriots get back to their first Super Bowl since their defeat at the hands of the Giants…

The pick: Patriots 31, Ravens 17

New York Giants @ San Francisco 49ers – Sunday 5:30 CT

I don’t know if anyone had these two teams meeting in the NFC Championship game at the start of the playoffs. The 49ers were a surprise to begin with, going 13-3 with first year head coach Jim Harbaugh. The Giants, on the other hand, had to win their final two games to get in, but were a popular dark-horse pick to go deep into the playoffs. Each team has a stellar defense; The Giants slowed down Aaron Rodgers last week and the 49ers kept Drew Brees at bay. But this game will come down to the quarterbacks. Eli Manning has a Super Bowl ring and a lot of playoff experience. Alex Smith played well last week, but he hasn’t been in the situation of being in a game with a Super Bowl appearance on the line. I think that the Giants win and set up a highly anticipated Super Bowl matchup with the Patriots…

The pick: Giants 24, 49ers 19

On the season:

Regular season picks: 63-33

Upset picks: 3-3

Playoffs: 3-5