India Abroad December 28, 2012 2012 THE YEAR THAT WAS
NEWS & COMMUNITY
; Rising political star Shefali Razdan Duggal was chosen as the Most Powerful and Influential Woman
in California by the National Diversity Council.
; Sabrina De Sousa, who was sentenced in Italy in the Central Intelligence Agency’s alleged kidnapping of a Muslim cleric in Milan in 2003, lost a case against the government. She had filed a civil case,
alleging that as a consular officer, she had been entitled to diplomatic immunity, which the government
didn’t declare for her and the other accused. Later in the year, Italy’s highest criminal court upheld her
conviction along with 23 Americans. She could be arrested if she travels outside the United States.
; Atlanta got an Indian consulate that would serve also serve Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, South
Carolina and Tennessee, as well as the US Virgin Islands and the US commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
; Lyvita Gomes died after a hunger strike in the Lake County Jail in Illinois. It was the end of a tragic
saga that began with a fail-
ure to answer a jury sum-
mons and ended with her
succumbing to dehydration
; Mumbai native Dr
Protul Shrikant made a
that led to a clinical trial
for a cancer vaccine at the
Roswell Park Cancer
Institute, Buffalo, New
; The State Department sent
three Indian-American comedians
— Hari Kondabolu, Rajiv Satyal
and Azhar Usman — to India to
Make Chai Not War, a comedy
; One of India’s closest friends on Capitol Hill, United States Representative Gary
Ackerman decided to not seek re-election for a 16th term.
; President Barack Obama appointed Dr Sonny Ramaswamy, dean, Oregon State
University’s College of Agricultural Sciences, as director, Department of
Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
; Dr Zach Zachariah, longtime Republican Party stalwart, sued his one-time pro-tégé Dr Akshay K Desai, another leading GOP activist, alleging that Desai not only
unilaterally and improperly kicked him off the board of directors at their jointly
owned company, but subsequently issued 57 million additional shares of common
stock without any shareholders or board meeting, reducing the value of Zacharia’s
ownership share in the company from 20 percent to about 14 percent.
; Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, who headed the Kashmiri
American Council was sentenced to 24 months in prison, followed by three years
of supervised release, for conspiracy and tax violations in connection with a
decade-long scheme to conceal the transfer of at least $3.5 million from the
Pakistan government to fund his Kashmir-related lobbying efforts in America.
; Nurse Aparna Hande received the California 56 Assembly District Woman of the
Year award in a ceremony held on the floor of the California state assembly.
; The exodus of senior Indian-American Obama administration officials continued. The nation’s first federal Chief
Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra quit to focus on running for
Virginia lieutenant governor. The father and son combination
of Suresh and Aditya Kumar — the only such duo in the
Obama administration and perhaps a first in any United States
administration in the Indian-American immigrant experience
— quit their Department of Commerce and White House positions, respectively. Parita Shah, deputy director for public
affairs at the Commerce Department, quit to join a lobbying
; Five Indian Americans were among those honored with
India’s Padma awards. Arvind Panagriya, Vidya Dehejia, Homi
K Bhabha and Jose Pereira were accorded the Padma Bhushan
and Jagadish Shukla the Padma Shri.
; Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen was awarded the National
Humanities Medal. The economist is the first Indian to receive
the coveted honor in its 16-year history.
; The National Foundation for American Policy discovered
that data culled from the United States Citizenship and
Immigration Services showed a dramatic increase in the denial
of petitions for both L-1 (intra-company transfer) and H-1B
(temporary work visa) categories in the past four years for
India-born professionals and researchers compared to those
from other countries.
; The Institute of Medical Education in the Bay Area, founded
by Sunil Vethody, was shut down by California state regulators,
alleging that it had violated laws.
; A court recommended that Neena Malhotra, a former consul
at the Indian consulate in New York, and her husband Jogesh,
an engineer, pay $1.5 million to their former domestic help,
Shanti Gurung for forcing her to work without pay.
; Goa-born Bernadette D’Souza, a longtime legal aid attorney,
was elected as a judge to head up the first family court in New
Orleans. She became the first Indian-American woman to be
elected a judge in the Cajun state.
; Tshering Rinzing Bhutia, a student
from Sikkim, was among the seven people killed in the shooting at Oikos
University in the San Francisco Bay
Area. Dawinder Kaur was shot in the
arm and Sonam Choedon, a Tibetan
born and raised in India, was also
; Khalid Awan, a Pakistani-Canadian,
was sentenced to 14 years in jail for providing material support to the Sikh militant group Khalistan Commando
; Four years after outsourcing visa
related services to Travisa Outsourcing,
the Indian embassy and consulates out-sourced the work related to Indian
passports to VFS Global.
; Suja Lowenthal, vice mayor, Long
Beach, California, was re-elected to the
city council from the 2nd district.
; In a rare honor, Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao delivered the graduation
address at the University of Florida’s doctoral degree commencement ceremony.
; Maneesha Kelkar, executive director, Manavi, one of the oldest South Asian
organizations in the United States, stepped down.
; The Hindu American Seva Charities, the White House Office of Public
Engagement and Intergovernmental Agencies and the White House Office of Faith
Based and Neighborhood Partnerships co-hosted a historic briefing and conference.
; Nancy J Powell took over as the first woman
United States ambassador to India.
; Captain Pratima Dharm organized the first Holi festival for United States Army personnel at the
chapel at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.