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Meet Pranav, Who Has Set up Tea Stalls in London to Give Unemployed Refugees Means of Livelihood June 24, 2019 05:08

The lack of employment has been quite hard-hitting for both the refugees and immigrants who migrated to different parts of Europe. From a deficiency of jobs for the migrants to a proper way of living, everything was compromised upon while they were not given any opportunity to make it on their own. Pranav, an Indian origin resident in London, came across a hard-hitting news story about three years ago, when the crisis had reached its hilt. The story was about a 12-year-old Iraqi boy who was asked by the interviewer what he thought about going back to his homeland, Iraq, to which the boy said, “I'm not happy as I know I'll die, but I have to go back with my family.” This interview certainly changed Pranav's life and how.                       (Image source from: MensXP.com) Pranav is a Delhi-born businessman and an owner of London-based tea company Chaigram (now NEMI). His social enterprise employs refugees, who work for Chaigram and help run the tea-stalls across London food markets, festivals and various events. Chaigram helps refugees who find it difficult to find jobs, earn a steady income by employing them full-time. "Ours is a platform where the refugees can improve their English skills, regain confidence and work on skills required to enter the United Kingdom job market. We also employ them within our business to perform commercial roles including sales and marketing, events, packaging, and distribution. We are solely impact driven and re-invest more than 50 percent of our profits back into our enterprise to help us achieve our social-impact goals," Pranav said in an interview with Better India. Pranav, a resident of London for seven years now, felt that people who had migrated to the UK needed to be recognized with a lot more civility and respect needed an incoming source of income and equal opportunities.                       (Image source from: MensXP.com) After reading up about the Iraqi family who was forced to move back to their country from Europe, he was deeply disturbed and thought about doing something to make a difference. He understood that for the refugees, getting an asylum claim acceptance wasn't the end of their difficult journey. It was mostly acceptance in the society that they struggled with and Pranav took no time in creating a viable space for them. After deeply researching about the refugee crisis in Europe, Pranav with his savings opened up an organization that would help refugees keep their identity and his only totem to run the initiative was 'chai'. He banked on his love and knowledge of chai and opened 'Chaigram'. He partnered with 'Groundwork London', an organization that works towards providing sustainable employment, and began an initiative to give refugees jobs and other skills. Currently, the organization has provided work to about 18 refugees, who work in packaging and distribution along with more commercial roles like sales, marketing and handling events. Apart from that, the people working with Pranav also learn English language skills, so they can converse better. The refugees employed currently are from Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Pakistan, and Eritrea. Chaigram possess stalls in two London markets and supplies tea to about 20 cafes. Chaigram sells Masala Chai, Chai Lattes, Iced Tea, along with selling loose tea blends, that are packed and blended by refugees. By Sowmya Sangam

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Renowned Indian Origin Writer Ahmed Essop Dies at 88 in South Africa June 13, 2019 06:24

Former educationist of Indian origin and renowned author, Ahmed Essop, has died in South Africa, a close family friend said. He was 88. "The literary giant left us after being admitted to hospital a few days earlier," said Aslam Khota. Essop was buried on Tuesday in his hometown of Lenasia, predominantly an Indian township south of Johannesburg. Born in India in 1931, Essop emigrated to South Africa as a child. (Image Source: Facebook/mariza.breytenbach) He acquired several degrees and taught at a number of high schools as a lecturer, and at a teacher training institution, where he was loved for his approach to popularizing English literature, especially Shakespeare. Most of his 13 published works focused on the role of the Indian community in South African society, often highlighting the challenges the community faced under the draconian apartheid-era minority white government. This led to him being barred from teaching. One of Essop's early books, 'The Hajji and Other Stories' won the coveted Olive Schreiner Prize from the English Academy of Southern Africa in 1979. It was later turned into a film. In 2018, Essop received the Lifetime Achievement Literary Award at the annual South Africa Literary Awards. "In his hands, words behaved as if he were a magical craftsman," fellow Indianorigin wordsmith Yusuf Garda said in a tribute to Essop. "We honor you, Ahmed Essop, as a man of letters and literature, and as a Master of the English language in South Africa," Garda added. By Sowmya Sangam

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UK-Based 11-Year-Old Indian Girl Scores Top Marks in Mensa Test June 07, 2019 13:16

The 11-year-old Indian origin girl has achieved the top score in a Mensa IQ test. On May 16, Jiya Vaducha appeared for the Mensa test at Birbeck in the University of London and scored 162 marks. She can now join the global high IQ society. The girl said that she was the youngest in the room when she attended the Mensa exam. Mensa is the world's largest and oldest high IQ society. It has members from more than 100 countries currently.The Times of India quoted her as saying, "It was hard but not too hard. Some questions were difficult, others were not. I was really surprised with my results." World-renowned physicist Albert Einstein was among members of the Mensa society. Earlier this week, an 11-year-old Iranian school girl, Tara Sharifi, a student in UK's Aylesbury High School, had also scored 162 points after appearing for the exam at Oxford.The Mensa test is split into two sets of question papers for testing different types of IQ. Cattell IIIB includes verbal reasoning, while Culture Fair features diagrams and images. Jiya secured 162 in the Cattell IIIB Scale, bringing her in the top one percent in Britain. In the Culture Fair Scale, she came in the top three percent with a score of 131 points. Jiya whose parents are from Gujarat was born in the UK and lives in Pinner, the London borough of Harrow.Jiya's mother Bijal is an accountant while her father Jignesh is a software entrepreneur. The parents are elated at the result of their daughter. Jignesh who is from Navi Mumbai went to the UK as a student in 2002. Bijal who is from Kandivli joined him in 2005. Jignesh said that while the family knew Jiya would do well in the test, they did not expect her to get the top result. Jignesh said, "We hope she will do something meaningful with her life."To gain a Mensa membership, one has to gain a score within the top two percent on either paper. Children above the age of 10 and half years can sit for the Mensa test. The United Kingdom has 22,700 Mensa members while there are 1,500 in India. Anyone can appear for Mensa exams. There are centers around the country.By Sowmya Sangam

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Indian Origin Jeweler Awarded for Bravery During Robbery in Birmingham June 06, 2019 09:46

An Indian origin jeweler has been honored with a bravery award after helping police arrest the robbers who bound and gagged him at his jewelry store in Birmingham has been honored with a bravery award.Chouhan Pal was presented with the West Midlands Police Chief Constable's Good Citizen's Award early this week for his handling of the attack on his Dubai Jewelers shop, during which he was hit, bound with ties and had sticky tape put over his mouth."Despite being assaulted, you displayed courage and took the risk to set the alarm off and trap the offenders inside the building with you," Chief Constable Dave Thompson told Pal, in his 50s."Your quick-thinking actions and bravery allowed three offenders who had committed a robbery in the jeweler's shop you own to be detained and arrested," he said.In April last year, during the raid, three robbers had made their way into the store using fake security industry identification tags claiming they needed to carry out CCTV checks. Chouhan straight off managed to hit an alarm with his shoulder, trapping the gang in the shop and setting off a smoke cloak.When the robbers demanded the keys to the front door, he gave them the keys to a holding area by the front door and then used the automatic release to trap them there.A passer-by heard their cries for help and let the men out, thinking there was a fire. However, police arrived in no time and the passers-by and Chouhan helped them detain the gang.All the three robberies went on to admit burglary at Birmingham Crown Court and were jailed for 14, 12 and nine-and-a-half years respectively in July last year.By Sowmya Sangam

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Meet Durga Sura, an NRI Striving to Serve Water for Stray Animals and Birds This Harsh Summer June 03, 2019 07:39

A Non-Resident Indian from Canada has come for the three-month vacation to Visakhapatnam in India and is doing her bit for the care of stray animals and birds. Moved by the plight of stray animals and birds during intense summer, Durga Sura is distributing the cement bowls at various places in the city with a provision to store five liters of water. She is even visiting schools to sensitize them on the need to take care of stray animals. “I am an animal and nature lover. I have so far distributed 80 water bowls naming it as Kittu Animal Welfare Water Bowl. I had taken up similar activity in Chennai earlier. In the future, I want to float an NGO to spare my free time along with my like-minded friends,” she told The Hindu. After graduating in engineering, Durga did Masters in Business Administration from Warwick Business School, United Kingdom. She later started a business in Canada under the name ‘PourGreen’, which aims at providing eco-friendly plastic alternatives to save marine life. Her family members are active participants in animal welfare and take care of three stray dogs at their home. “We are all aware that hundreds of stray animals, as well as birds, die due to scorching heat and lack of access to clean drinking water,” she pointed out. The bowls are placed near the curry points and juice shops, which are frequented by stray animals in search of leftover stuff. “We are trying to motivate the street vendors and kiosks to provide a place for the water bowls near their premises. We are educating and encouraging the people to fill water in them to help these innocent creatures to survive,” she stated. Besides, the family also regularly feed stray animals and provide timely medical treatment whenever required. By Sowmya Sangam

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Indian Origin Man Jailed for 29 Months in UK for Stalking Woman for 18 Months May 17, 2019 05:47

An Indian origin man in the United Kingdom has been jailed for 29 months for stalking a woman for 18 months after she accompanied him just once in a store in London. The 28-year-old Rohit Sharma was jailed at Isleworth Crown Court in London on Wednesday after pleading guilty to harassment, stalking, and failing to appear in court. "Stalking and harassment have a devastating impact on the lives of those targeted. There is an intrusion into the victim's life, and they are left to feel vulnerable, distressed and threatened," said Detective Constable Nicola Kerry from the Metropolitan Police West Area Command Unit, who led the investigation."Sharma was incessant in his pursuit of his victim. He would phone her up to 40 times a day and use around 15 different numbers to contact her, making it near impossible to block his calls, and would also get friends and relatives to contact her on his behalf," she said.The man started stalking his victim, aged in her 20s, after she served him in a shop in Wembley, north-west London, in November 2017. After that short interaction, Sharma came back later that same day with his father and asked her to marry him.Though the victim changed jobs four days later, Sharma found out where she worked and managed to obtain her phone number.His troublesome behavior intensified and he bombarded the victim with multiple messages via text, phone, and social media, the Met Police said.In February 2018, Sharma was issued with a harassment warning after the victim reported him to police. However, the court was told that this did not deter him and his stalking and harassment continued. The victim continued to receive up to 40 calls a day and continually watching her at her workplace.Sharma was charged with harassment in July 2018 but after being bailed from the court he continued to pursue his victim. He even failed to attend a court hearing in November 2018 and was circulated as wanted by police."Sharma's stalking continued persistently to such a point that the victim quit her job and moved away from the area in an attempt to get away from him. However, this only seemed to fuel his campaign and he systematically began contacting people who knew the victim, trying to find out where she had gone," the Met Police said.Sharma was arrested in April 2019 after intelligence linked him to an address in Wembley. He was subsequently charged and, due to the weight of evidence against him, was left with little option but to plead guilty at court.In a statement, the unnamed victim said: "This whole experience has completely shattered my nerves, I have gone from being a confident young woman to constantly feeling scared and on edge. I have no desire to socialize or meet new people, which has really taken its toll and ruined the university experience I had always envisioned."I cannot understand why this male became so obsessed with me. It is so unfair and completely undeserved. I just want him to realize what he has done and to know that he cannot do this to me or anyone else. I now want to move on knowing that he is locked away and cannot harm or hurt anyone else as he has done to me.""The victim has been left devastated by Sharma's actions and I can only hope that his imprisonment offers some form of respite for her. She has shown immense bravery in reporting him to police and supporting this court case," added detective constable Kerry.Sharma was sentenced to 22-months imprisonment for stalking, one month for failing to appear at court, and six months for harassment. Sharma will be deported back to India at the end of his sentence.By Sowmya Sangam

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Absconding NRI Zakir Naik Accuses Enforcement Directorate of Lying over His Assets May 11, 2019 07:01

Absconding Non-Resident Indian (NRI) tele-evangelist Zakir Naik on Friday slammed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for alleging that though he had no earnings he had transferred Rs 46 crore in a six-year period.In a detailed statement, Naik, an Islamic preacher said: "Why is the ED lying? When everyone - including all the government agencies - know that I have multiple businesses and revenue streams and my earnings have always reflected in the tax returns I have filed, why is ED lying about it?"He sought to know "whether the pressure" is so huge that they (ED) had to resort to lies to achieve the goal set out by "their political bosses".Naik's retort came two days after the ED filed a charge sheet before the Special prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) Court’s Special Judge M.S. Azmi, accusing him of money-laundering.According to the ED charge sheet, Naik keeps traveling around the world with no "known sources" of income and yet he got along to transfer Rs 49.20 crore to his Indian bank accounts and that the total earning of the crime was around Rs 193 crore.By Sowmya Sangam

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NRI Businessman Jayaram’s Murder Case: Police File 388-Page Charge Sheet May 02, 2019 04:48

Almost four months after the murder of 55-year-old Chirgurupati Jayaram, the Florida-based non-resident Indian businessman, the Hyderabad police on Wednesday filed a charge sheet against 12 people including prime accused K Rakesh Reddy and two police officers. The 388-page charge sheet was filed in a local court and has evidence collected by the police from call data records and CCTV footage along with the statement of around 70 witnesses. According to media reports, the charge sheet which details how the murder was planned also names two police officers for allegedly attempting to conceal the murder. The police had earlier transferred Assistant Commissioner of Police Malla Reddy and Circle Inspector Srinivasulu after their names cropped up during the investigation. The body of Jayaram, who was the director of Coastal Bank was found in the back seat of his car off the national highway near Nandiagama close to Vijayawada on January 31. Jayaram, also a Managing Director of Express TV, a now-defunct Telugu channel, had come to Hyderabad from the United States a few days before his death. Jayaram's wife had also demanded a probe against his niece Shikha Chowdary, who was allegedly in a relationship with Rakesh Reddy. She said that after the murder, Shikha barged into their house in Jubilee Hills. She alleged that some key documents and valuables were missing. However, the police have not named her as an accused but as a witness. “Jayaram’s niece Shrika Chowdary is one of the witnesses in the case. We examined more than 300 persons while 70 were taken as a witness. Kidnapping, confinement, extortion, and murder of Jayaram were main charges against accused Rakesh Reddy,” the police were quoted as saying. The police are also considering imposing charges under the Preventive Detention Act against the accused. The police had earlier said that Jayaram was killed over a monetary dispute. It said Rakesh Reddy, who murdered Jayaram as the latter had failed to repay a Rs 4 crore loan, investigation officials claimed. The police said that their investigation revealed that Reddy called Jayaram to a house in Jubilee Hills and reportedly recorded videos of him after illegally confining him, in a bid to extort money from his family, before the accused killed him. He later shifted the body to Jayaram's car and took it to Krishna district and left it in a field adjoining the national highway to make it appear like an accident. -Sangam Sowmya      

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Current Status of Indian Politics Not Enough to Solve National Problems: NRI Contestant Alok Kumar April 27, 2019 05:30

An NRI independent candidate Alok Kumar contesting from Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency on election symbol #LetterBox claimed it is not possible for the national political parties in India like Bharatiya Janata Party or Indian National Congress to actually do something worthwhile. Alok Kumar, who has been residing in Dubai for almost a decade, said that the current status of Indian politics will not be able to solve national problems of recession, unemployment, economic mismanagement, pseudo nationalism, etc. The national metabolism requires that the core of democracy must be taken care of. To be able to provide some real solutions to these very grave issues, Alok Kumar will be using his experiences and knowledge to eke out a purposeful way out. If elected, he wants to be an easily available bridge for the agriculturists, youth, women, etc to face their problems squarely and earn a livelihood with respect.Hailing from Bhopal, Alok Kumar is an author, entrepreneur and experienced Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) professional. He is the director of an e-commerce startup MERABOX.CO under M/S EHA LLP.He has authored a book titled 'Divorce Negatives' that talks about facing challenges of life to be a winner always. Besides, it also talks about solving family and marital issues in a working manner.Dedicated to the continuous growth and development of Madhya Pradesh, Alok possesses ideas and innovations to implement for the benefit of Bhopal. Employment generation and Socio-economic cohesion and development are his foremost objectives aimed at reducing unemployment. Besides giving Bhopal a global platform for all-round progress, Alok will be contributing to its overall improvement benefiting its residents.By Sowmya Sangam

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Sri Lanka Blasts: Death Came to Indian Descent Woman Holidaying in Island Nation When She Was About to Check out April 23, 2019 07:02

The deadly serial blasts in Sri Lanka claimed lives of about 310 people, including eight Indians and a woman with roots in Kerala was one among who fell victims to the explosion that rocked the island nation on Easter Sunday. Kerala-descent woman Raseena was on a vacation with her husband in Sri Lanka and was scheduled to leave the country on Sunday afternoon to Mangalore but in vain. Raseena and her husband Khader Kukadi has been set up home in Dubai for years and were on a vacation in Sri Lanka for over a week. Raseena's family originally hails from Kasargod in Kerala and had put down roots in Sri Lanka for decades. Her husband Khader, who is originally from Mangalore had left for Dubai in the morning time and Raseena was about to accompany him in Dubai after a stay in Bengaluru.The couple was staying in the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo, one of the luxury hotels that was the target for blast. According to reports, Raseena was having breakfast at the hotel before checking out to catch the flight when the explosion took place. The Sri Lankan government on Monday said that it will hold an official funeral to pay tribute to all the people who were killed on Sunday. The funeral will be held on Tuesday at the Katuwapitya church in Negombo, a few kilometers to the north of Colombo, Efe news reported.By Sowmya Sangam

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Indian Origin Man Quits Job in Australia to Vote for PM Modi in Indian General Elections April 15, 2019 05:56

Despite staying in India many people by purpose failed to cast their valuable vote in still afoot Lok Sabha elections but a man hailing from Mangalore and settled in Australia stood out from all to make a decision in his life that would help him vote tranquilly for his ideal leader. The 41-year-old Sudhindraa Hebbaar (41), has resigned from his job as a screening officer at Sydney Airport since he could not get leave to come to India to cast his vote for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on April 18.The man got leave from April 5 to April 12 but he was let down as could not get an extension due to Easter and Ramadan rush. So he made up his mind to resign and come back to India, he told National Daily. Hebbaar added, “In Sydney, I’ve been working with people from across the globe, including Europeans and Pakistanis. I’m proud every time they say India has a great future. I attribute this success and changing image of India to the Prime Minister. Obviously, I cannot go to the border to protect my motherland.”He said that now that he has resigned, he plans to stay till the results (May 23) and see who wins the election after that he will go back and search for a new job.He said in a statement “I am a Permanent Residency card-holder in Australia (his wife is a Fiji-Australian) and I have worked at Sydney Trains before working at the airport. Finding another job shouldn’t be an issue.”Similar in 2014 Indian general elections, Hebbaar flew to India for a day to cast his vote for BJP. He was at the polling booth in Mangalore at 7 a.m., cast his vote and returned to Bengaluru to catch his flight to Sydney.By Sowmya Sangam

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Meet the 32-Year-Old Indian American Who Traveled for over 30 Hours Just to Vote in General Elections April 12, 2019 06:15

Despite being in India scores of voters didn’t turn up to exercise their franchise but a 32-year-old job holder in the United States traveled from New York to Nagpur spending a bomb just to cast his vote. Ashish Sharma, who is working as a sales manager in the United States-based e-commerce company, has lately been a frequent visitor to the city owing to his mother’s ill health. As per the arrangement made with his company, his next visit was scheduled around April 25. However, after polling dates were announced, the big follower of Indian politics could not resist and convinced his bosses to let him fulfill his national duties. Sharma reached Nagpur flying for over 30 hours in the early hours of Thursday. “Right after the polling date was announced, I had made up my mind to come here. While during other visits my company would bear the travel expenses, this time I would be paying for my return tickets,” said Sharma. “It’s not about just one vote. I know it won’t make a difference. My main intention is to motivate all the Indians staying abroad to come and vote. Imagine what a big difference can be made if thousands of Indians living just in the United States vote,” said Sharma, who has been posting his inked pictures on social media appealing people living overseas to vote. Voting, for them, is a medium to express their belongingness, Said Sharma. “We are not appreciated much outside as some racism does exist. And we are not appreciated in India as we don’t stay here. What can be a better way than voting to show that we care?” he added. NRI voters were not been extended right to cast their votes online in this Lok Sabha elections. A bill to extend proxy voting rights to NRIs was passed in Lok Sabha but is pending in Rajya Sabha. -Sangam Sowmya    

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