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India's Olympic Woes

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October 2007
India's Olympic Woes

THE BOBBY JINDAL FILE

JINDAL BY THE NUMBERS

3 Number of children he has

4.0 Grade point average at Brown University

13 Candidates he will face in Louisiana's gubernatorial election.

24 Age when appointed Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals

33 Age when elected to Congress

36 His current age (He was born June 10, 1971, in Baton Rouge, La.)

88 Vote percentage by which he was re-elected to Congress.

JINDAL QUOTES

"Every day when I was a kid, my dad would tell me, ‘We live in the greatest country in the world. We are so lucky to be Americans'." (Wall Street Journal)

"Within Louisiana and across the country, one thing I am very proud of and grateful for is how much the (Indian-American) community, despite its differences, partisan or otherwise, comes together and says, we're proud of you, we want you to do well. And I am very grateful for that." (News-India Times)

"I always just take half the dose (on prescription medicines). I'm very cautious." (BestofNewOrleans.com)

JINDAL FACTS

Born to Indian immigrants Amar and Raj Jindal, he was named Piyush Jindal at birth and took the nickname "Bobby" at age 4 after a character on the TV show The Brady Bunch.

After graduating from Brown with honors in biology and public policy, he attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, earning a master's degree in political science.

He lost a bid for the Louisiana governorship in 2003, but was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives the following year from the state's 1st district and re-elected last year. The only Indian-American serving in Congress, he has only one predecessor: Dalip Singh Saund, a Democrat who represented California's 29th District from 1957 to 1963.

Married to his wife, Supriya, for 10 years, he has three children, Selia, Shaan and Slade.

He is the favorite to become America's first Indian-American governor when Lousiana holds its unique all-candidate primary on Oct. 20. The sole Republican candidate, he needs more than 50 percent to win the governorship outright; otherwise he will face the second-place finisher in a Nov. 17 runoff.

JINDAL TRIVIA

He aspired to be a doctor in high school, but his desire for a well-rounded education led him to major in both biology and public policy at Brown and eventually drew him into politics.

He got to play a doctor for a short time last August, helping his wife deliver their son and third child, Slade, at home before the ambulance arrived. Following instructions from a nurse by phone, Jindal put the baby in his wife's arms and tied a shoe string on the umbilical cord.

QUOTA OF QUOTES

"In India, nothing is reliable. Not the electricity. Not the police force. Nothing. The only thing that people have to rely on is God." – Kiran Kaur, a journalism student at the University of Missouri-Columbia, who recently spent a month in India. (Indolink.com)

"I've been sporting the red holy dot on my forehead for the last 30 years of my career. It has religious sentiment for me and if somebody goes on harassing me on this pretext I'll have no option but to commit suicide." – Lakshman Mishra, deputy director of Bihar's agriculture department, who received warnings that his tilak violates a new government dress code. (BBC.co.uk)

"This exercise was all done to demean me. It was unbearable." – Charanjit Singh Ghai, a Sikh man whose turban was sent through an x-ray machine at San Francisco International Airport. (Panthic.org)

"A turban is not just a hat. It's not something you just flip on and off like a Yankees cap." – Amardeep Singh, executive director of the Sikh Coalition. (Newsday)

"I feel I have the opportunity, the ability and I have the finances to do something great. We don't take anything with us. We come into this world with nothing and we leave with nothing. But we do leave a mark." – Virginia multi-millionaire Krishnan Suthanthiran, who bought a remote town in British Columbia, Canada, and plans to turn it into a global centre for the world's most talented artists and scientists. (Vancouver Province)

"My children feel that they are more important in the field of business and moneymaking so I have to show the family and the community that I am a professional person." – Guinness Rishi, 66, an Indian man who claims to have set more than a dozen world records, including fastest to drink a bottle of ketchup. (AP)

"They made of lot of promises to me and assured me of financial help for my livelihood and my children's education." – Manica Besra, 40, who accuses the nuns of the Missionaries of Charity of abandoning her, several years after her claimed miracle cure from cancer led to Mother Teresa's passage toward sainthood.(AFP)

DESI SATIRE

INDIANS PREPARE FOR JINDAL VICTORY

Residents of Malerkotla, Punjab, are buying fireworks and preparing sweets, getting ready to celebrate Rep. Bobby Jindal's likely victory in the Louisiana gubernatorial primary on Oct. 20.

"We will dance and party all night long," said Kumar Jindal, first cousin of the Indian-American Congressman, whose parents hail from Malerkotla.

"We have not been this excited since we got cable TV."

The sole Republican candidate in Louisiana's unique all-candidate primary, Jindal needs more than 50 percent to win the governorship and become the first Indian-American to head a state. He's so far ahead in the polls that analysts believe he will win the election even if President Bush comes to Louisiana to campaign for him.

"Louisiana doesn't need any more disasters," said one Democratic analyst, "but I have a feeling this is going to be a landslide."

Added another analyst: "Thirteen people are challenging him in the election, but their chances of beating him are equal to Lou Dobbs' chances of being appointed the ambassador to Mexico."

Jindal's opponents are trailing so badly, some are getting desperate, trying their best to smear him, without being racist. "You went to LSU, he went to Brown University," one campaign ad said. "Think about it: Do you really want to vote for a Brown man?"

Another ad was more direct: "If you vote for Jindal, you're voting against the environment. There'll be more fumes in the air, partly from the pot of curry at the Governor's mansion."

The vast majority of Indian-Americans are Democrats, but many are supporting Jindal. "So what if he's a Republican?" one man said. "Everyone has faults."

That's the kind of attitude that Jindal's relatives in Punjab appreciate. "Whether he's Democrat or Republican, we don't care," Kumar Jindal said, "as long as he has many spare bedrooms in the Governor's mansion."

INDIA'S OLYMPIC WOES

If India seems to win only one medal at every Olympic Games, it's even worse than you think, as Laurie Goering of the Chicago Tribune reported recently. At the last six Olympics, India has won a grand total of three medals: Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore's silver in trap shooting at Athens, Karnam Malleshwari's bronze in women's weight lifting in Sydney and Leander Paes' bronze in tennis in Atlanta. During the same span, China won 320 medals.

Goering cites many reasons for India's Olympic woes, including the focus on academics, the dearth of corporate sponsors and the oppressive heat, but chief among them is the country's obsession with cricket. "Because of India's cricket mania, nobody takes much notice of aspiring swimmers or sprinters or gymnasts, and almost no one funds them," Goering writes.

"There are few tennis courts outside of big urban centers, few swimming pools or playgrounds in rural villages and next to no Little Leagues or talent scouts scouring the countryside."

That wouldn't be so bad, of course, if India were dominant in cricket, if the World Cup didn't keep going Down Under.

INDIA'S GUINNESS GLORY

India may not have enjoyed much Olympic success, but it does hold 219 Guinness World Records, 10th most in the world. Some of the notable ones:

--Largest cotton sculpture: A 7-foot-6-inch tall sculpture of Mahatma Gandhi, made by Anant Narayan Khairnar.

--Longest ear hair in the world: Radhakant Bajpai, measuring 5.19 inches.

--Longest non-stop team two-wheeler ride: Har Parkash Rishi, Amarjeet Singh and Navjot Chadha, 1,001 hours, covering 19,241 miles.

--Most published letters to newspaper editors: Subhash Chandra Agrawal with 3,699 as of Jan. 31, 2006.

--Most published letters to newspaper editors in a single year: Madhu Agrawal with 447 in 2004.

--Fastest 10 miles skipped: Vadivelu Karunakaren, 58 minutes in Chennai on Feb. 1, 1990.

--Fastest backward journey on foot: Arvind Morarbhai Pandya, 940 miles in 26 days and seven hours.

Source: Guinness World Records

ONLY IN INDIA

One prison guard was suspended and eight others were being investigated after they allegedly hugged and shook hands with Sanjay Dutt as he left prison temporarily on bail. "This violates the police manual rules about conduct with convicts. A departmental inquiry has been initiated," said R. Damne, the jail superintendent. (AP)

The village of Choto Pashla in West Bengal has 6,000 people and more than 3,000 snakes, according to Samir Chatterjee, the local school headmaster and author of a book about the snakes. "The poison-fanged reptiles represent a way of life in Choto Pashla. People of the neighbouring villages are scared to come here," Chatterjee said. (AFP)

Indian border guards in West Bengal are giving cows photo-ID cards, to keep them from being smuggled into Bangladesh. The laminated cards include each cow's photograph, its owner's name and address, its height, color, sex and other distinguishing features. (London Times)

DESI FUN ONLINE

Jaysha Patel

www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoyYn5kAxn8

She's only a kid, but already getting laughs on stage

Paagal

www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQF4fVXKXWY

A Unique Soundz Roadshow video that features Ranveer Rana

Bovine Bliss

www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZ5tVA68FRo

Swaroop Shukla is the Bart Simpson of this animated cartoon

Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI.

[Comments? Contributions? We would love to hear from you about Chai Time, our newest column. If you have contributions, please email us at melvin@melvindurai.com. We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips and more]


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