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Consulate General of India celebrates Third Kala Utsav to honour Indian Culture in Chicago

Nearly 500 people comprising of the Indian-American Diaspora hailing from different parts of India, including many US nationals and diplomats attended the event

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Dr. Ausaf Sayeed (centre), Consulate General of India along with his wife inaugurate Kala Utsav by lighting the lamp. Image source: Asian Media USA
Chicago IL, August 25, 2016: The Consulate General of India hosted the Annual Cultural Festival “Kala-Utsav-2016” on August 22, at McAninch Arts Center, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn in collaboration with 23 different Indian Cultural Organizations to promote the rich heritage of Indian Art and Culture in the US Mid-West. The event provided a useful platform for over 250 renowned Indian artists, from across the US Midwest to showcase their inherent talents through top-class performances.
The function started with a stunning performance of “ChendaMelam” by the Chicago Kalashetra which is the best –known and most popular kshetram vadyam (temple percussion) genre.
Third Kala Utsav. Image source: Asia Media USA
Dance performance at the Third Kala Utsav. Image source: Asia Media USA
The festival was inaugurated by Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Consul General of India by lighting of the lamp.  He was joined by Mrs Farha Sayeed, OP Meena, Head of Chancery at the Consulate, Harish Kolasani and members of participating organization of Kala-Utsav 2016. This was followed by the Indian and the US National Anthems.

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Nearly 500 people comprising of the Indian-American Diaspora hailing from different parts of India, including many US nationals and diplomats attended the event.

In his inaugural address, Consul General Dr Ausaf Sayeed underlined the ancient, deep-rooted and diverse culture of India, he added that the objective of the annual ‘Kala-Utsav’ festival, which was launched by the consulate in August 2014, is not only to encourage and showcase the extraordinary talents in the Indian-American community but also to reiterate and celebrate the concept of India’s diversity and oneness.
Third Kala Utsav. Image source: Asia Media USA
Third Kala Utsav. Image source: Asia Media USA
The cultural events began with Rhythmic Collaborations presented by Kala Eternal Rhythms, School of Indian Classical Music, Chicago followed by a sequence of dance performances representing the classical, folk and modern dance forms of India.

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The classical dance segment included two Bharatnatyam performances presented by the Nritya Geethanjali Dance Academy and Natya Dance Theatre, two Kathak performances presented by Anila Sinha Foundation & Tarana Kathak Dance Academy, two Kuchipudi performance presented by Samyoga School of Dance, Indiana and Eshanjali Dance Academy, IOWA. While the Utkala Center for Odissi Dance presented an Odissi composition, Ganesha Vandana, the Nritya Bharathi Institute of Dance, Indiana presented Fast paced Classic Dance.
Third Kala Utsav. Image source: Asia Media USA
Dance performance at Kala Utsav. Image source: Asia Media USA
There were 10 folk dance representing nine States of India. The Telangana Folk Dance Group presented the Telangana folk dance, Bathukamma, Shingari’s School of Rhythm presented Kerala Folk Dance, Oppana, Amitha Mushyam presented Andhra folk dance, Andhranatyam & Kolatam, Rhythms & Grace Dance Studio presented Rajasthani folk dance, Ghummar , the Assam Association of Greater Chicago presented Assam’s Folk dance “ Sattriya”  the Balaji Vidhypeetham School of Balaji Temple presented North Indian Folk dance “ Bappa Morya” , I Radha Group presented high energy Punjabi folk dance “Bhangra”, Maharastra Mandal presented Marathi folk dance “Ghondhal” and Amrapali Dance group presented Bengali folk dance.  The performance of Gidha, Punjabi folk dance, by Hari Om Mandir Dance Group enthralled the audience.
Third Kala Utsav. Image source: Asia Media USA
Punjabi folk dance in Third Kala Utsav. Image source: Asia Media USA
There were four presentations under the Contemporary/Fusion dance category in which over thirty artists participated. These presentations captured the hearts of the audience. The presentation ‘Colors of India’ by Team Ghungru attempted to keep the flame of vibrancy and patriotism alive in our hearts. Kalapriya Center for Indian performing arts presented “ Navarasa”, Bollywood Dhamaka” was presented by Bollywood Rhythm and Rina Rockers presented a semi-classical dance performance with the remix version of Hanuman Chalisa.
Third Kala Utsav. Image source: Asia Media USA
Members and participants of the Third Kala Utsav. Image source: Asia Media USA
Mr Tarun Mullick ably anchored the event as emcee and kept the audience engaged with his hilarious narration, Balle Balle. Mr OP Meena proposed a vote of thanks.

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US Sanctions on Cuba Deterring American Firms from Exploring Its Telecommunications Sector

It remains unclear how open it would be to U.S. investment in the strategic telecoms sector

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US, Cuba, American Firms
FILE - Cubans check their phones at an internet hotspot in Havana, Cuba, Aug. 10, 2018. VOA

U.S. sanctions on Cuba are deterring American firms from exploring its telecommunications sector even as Washington seeks to expand internet access on the Communist-run island, according to the final report of a U.S. government task force released on Tuesday.

Chinese companies dominate Cuba’s telecoms sector, a status quo “worth challenging given concerns that the Cuban government potentially obtains its censorship equipment from Chinese Internet infrastructure providers,” the report said.

Cuba’s government protested the U.S. State Department’s creation of a Cuba Internet Task Force last year as “foreign interference.” It remains unclear how open it would be to U.S. investment in the strategic telecoms sector.

“U.S. companies informed the subcommittees they are often deterred from entering the market due to uncertainty caused by frequent changes to U.S. regulations concerning Cuba,” according to the task force, convened last year by the State Department.

US, Cuba, American Firms
U.S. sanctions on Cuba are deterring American firms from exploring its telecommunications sector. Pixabay

U.S. presidents have successively tightened and loosened the decades-old U.S. trade embargo on Cuba imposed in the years after its 1959 revolution.

Former President Barack Obama created a loophole for U.S. telecommunications companies to provide certain services to Cuba. His successor, Donald Trump, maintained the loophole but tightened the broader sanctions, worsening the overall business climate.

Banks are increasingly reluctant to process payments originating in Cuba. Some telecoms firms surveyed by the task force said that was putting them off offering key services and products in the country.

The task force advised the U.S. government to clear up the regulatory uncertainty and seek feedback on how to improve telecoms firms’ ability to invest.

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Until 2013, the internet was largely available to the public in Cuba only at tourist hotels amid the U.S. embargo, lack of cash and concerns over the free flow of information.

The government has increased web access in recent years, installing a fiber-optic cable to Venezuela and introducing cyber cafes, Wi-Fi hot spots and mobile internet.

Cuban telecoms monopoly ETECSA signed a deal earlier this year with Alphabet’s Google on increasing connectivity, but the two have not publicly agreed on any significant investments. (VOA)