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March 2006

Immigration to America from India surges

��� Not many Indians came to the U.S. before 1906, according to historians, and in fact the census figures of 1900 show that only 2050 Indians, including those of mixed heritage, lived in this country at the dawn of the 20th century. Pointing out that Asian Indians now account for 1.41 million of the population, a recent study by the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington D.C. adds that only Mexico, China and the Philippines send more immigrants to the U.S. "The latest data collected by the Census Bureau show that the years 2000 to 2005 are almost certainly the highest five years of immigration in American history," notes the report. The total immigration reached 7.9 million for all states, with Georgia coming in 3rd for the biggest rise in numbers (after California and Texas). Foreign-born immigrants now form 12.1 percent of the entire population in this nation. Given the impressive educational attainments of Indian immigrants, with 76.6 percent possessing a college degree or more, it's no surprise that they have the highest rank in this category. When it comes to poverty, only three other nationalities in a list of twenty-five had a lower rate. Whereas 170,000 Indians migrated to these shores in the pre-1980 era, the number is 459,000 for just the first half of this decade. The report also adds that 14.5 percent of immigrants from India are self-employed.

Young American desis make advances in science and technology

��� Almost every year, it seems, the Siemens Westinghouse Competition ? famous for selecting the brightest young achievers in science, technology and math from high schools around the nation ? features at least one, usually more, Indian-Americans in the list of finalists. This year was no different. Four of the nineteen winners, picked from the 1684 students who entered the contest, are of Indian origin. Established in 1998, this New Jersey-based foundation, which gave out a total of $2 million in scholarships this year, also offers other awards to recognize and support top students in the U.S. Kiran Pendri, the son of Organic Chemists, won the second place in the individual category for a project that, using the latest Nobel Prize-winning research, gives a deeper understanding of the art of synthesizing organic molecules. Desh Mohan took the 4th spot, whereas Abhinav Khanna and Amardeep Grewal shared the 2nd and 5th prizes, respectively, in the team category. Kiran's work "is an example of how important basic science has been applied for the benefit of man, society and the environment," notes the foundation. And commenting on the experiments done by Abhinav and Benjamin Pollock to study sexual selection and adaptive behavior, the foundation adds, "The results of their research may provide greater understanding of how traits evolve in any organism." When it comes to using the power of science and technology to amass wealth, Bill Gates has no peer. He is the richest individual in the world. His many Indian admirers warmly welcomed his recent announcement of a 1.7-billion investment plan in India. He also launched a talent search called ‘Code4Bill' to pick India's cr�me de la cr�me in the IT field.

Trendy travelers see India as a hot destination

��� A Lonely Planet survey, described as "arguably the world's most authoritative independent travel survey to date, with almost 20,000 respondents from 167 countries," picked India as one of the top five destinations for 2004. The buzz only seems to get better, since a record 3.91 million visitors went there in 2005, making it a banner year for Indian tourism. It was an increase of 13.2 percent over the previous year, with the month of December alone accounting for 463,613 foreign travelers. And in rising numbers these days, travelers other than nostalgic NRIs feel the pull of India. "The arrival figure has exceeded the tourism ministry's target for the year ? 3.8 million," notes the BS Corporate Bureau, adding, "For the year 2006, the ministry has set the arrival target at 4.4 million." Also worth noting is the growing popularity of niche markets ? culture, the environment, spirituality, health care, social work, adventure, etc. ? that attract people who want something more than the ritual delights of mass tourism. Yoga is an obvious choice, given its prevalence in the West, and the new ‘Incredible India' campaign has capitalized on this trend by promoting it heavily in the latest ads. One can, for instance, enter an Incredible Yoga Contest to win a free 7-day holiday. The other contests are called Incredible Kerala, Northeast India, Escape to Utopia (Uttaranchal), and Ayurveda. The outfit iExplore, which specializes in adventure and experiential travel, puts together a yearly list of its top travel locations based on the number of sales made. For both 2004 and 2005, India was ranked as the 5th most desirable destination.���

Diaspora conclave's Indian-American highlights

��� This year's diaspora meet for non-resident Indians and people of Indian origin, held in Hyderabad from January 7th to 9th, attracted about 1200 guests from around the world. Three Indian-Americans ? editor and author Fareed Zakaria, CEO and chairman Niranjan Shah, and allergist and activist Sudhir Parikh ? were among the fifteen recipients of the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman. These awards are given out annually to overseas Indians who have achieved distinction in various fields. The Indian Council for Cultural Relations, which already operates eighteen cultural centers around the world, plans to establish a new one devoted to Indian culture in Washington D.C. Indian-Americans Nivruti Rai and Iftekhar Shareef became the first applicants to receive the OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) cards. Following a formal presentation at the conclave, they are now dual citizens of India and the U.S.

Compiled By Murali Kamma

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