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“The American dream is no longer alive,” Dr. Tarkeshwar Tiwary lamented, looking back on a decade-long journey he has spent chasing a stable future in the United States for his two Indian-born children.
“I feel really demeaned,” he said. A 45-year-old pulmonologist at a hospital in central Pennsylvania, Tiwary is one of 300,000-plus Indian immigrants awaiting legal permanent residency under an employment-based visa.
He is among the nearly 50,000 licensed Indian physicians working in the United States, and he says he feels invested in his rural community of 20,878. But the wait for a green card — a pathway to citizenship — is becoming too long to bear.
“What was promised to me was that if I intend to immigrate, I will be immigrating in a reasonable period of time,” Tiwary said. “If I had gone to any other country, like Canada or Australia, I would have been a citizen much, much earlier.” For employment-based visa applicants, the timeline to receive a green card can vary, but none face wait times remotely as long as Indians — up to 151 years for applicants today.
One common route to permanent residency is through an H-1B dual-intent temporary visa, under a “specialty occupation.” Indian nationals comprise three-quarters of all H-1B visa holders — a majority in computer-related occupations — but a 7% per-country, per-year limit on employment-based preference green cards has exacerbated wait times across all professions.
“[Wait times have] been increasing since 2003-2004, where there was a big jump and USCIS [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services] basically stopped processing them for a couple years,” said David Bier, immigration policy analyst at CATO Institute. “It’s taken off, increasing up to a decade for people who applied 10 years ago. And that’s with serious attrition too. Lots of people have given up.”
Like others in his field, Tiwary’s decision of whether to stay in the U.S. or leave comes down to what is best for the family. His kids — a daughter entering high school and a son at the University of Pittsburgh — have spent a majority of their lives in the U.S. and “think to themselves that they’re American,” but will lack any viable employment options in the country as they enter the job market. That is, unless Tiwary’s luck changes soon.
Rural communities hit hardest
Should Tiwary and other Indian physicians abandon their efforts and leave the U.S., local residents from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland who travel more than an hour for specialized or subsidized care could feel the pinch, adding to the growing health-care shortage woes plaguing rural America.
At Chambersburg’s Keystone Health, nearly one in five patients lives in poverty and 65% of pediatric patients receive medical assistance, according to President & CEO Joanne Cochran. A federally-qualified health center, Keystone relies heavily on foreign-born family doctors, many of them from India on H-1B and J-1 exchange visitor visas.
“We have Indian doctors in family medicine, psychiatry … pediatrics, internal medicine, infectious disease, urgent care…” Cochran told VOA. “It would be a huge hardship [if they were to leave].”
The foreign-born talent at Keystone includes Dr. Jagdeep Kaur, an addiction psychiatrist and mother of two U.S.-born children, ages 3 and 5. In addition to concern for her aging parents abroad, whom she is unable to sponsor, Kaur’s frustration lies in the restrictions that her temporary visa imposes on her work, hampering her ability to grow the scope of her practice and contribute research to the state’s opioid epidemic.
Also in limbo is Dr. Mohamed Abdus Samad, a 32-year-old nephrologist at Chambersburg Hospital, whose dialysis patients travel upward of 80 to 100 kilometers (50 to 60 miles) to see him. As the need for kidney specialists increases and his bonds with patients grow stronger, the decision to wait for a green card becomes harder.
“They are grateful for the care that they get, but it also puts pressure on me,” said Samad, who is on an H-1B visa through 2020. “If I want to make any move, I have to think about what will happen to those patients.”
Christine Newman, a patient of Samad, worries it could take months to book an appointment at another hospital, if he and physicians facing similar predicaments were to leave. “They’re doing what they’re supposed to,” Newman said. “[The U.S. government] should cut through that red tape and get them in.”
Amy Thatcher, a Keystone patient from Spring Run, Pennsylvania, says her Indian doctor, Raghav Tirupathi, saved her life after discovering her hand had become infected by a staph bacteria (MRSA) following a joint replacement procedure. To lose her doctor because of an ongoing visa issue, she said, would be “devastating.” “We base our trust in the people that we see, and we continue to see them,” Thatcher said.
‘Difficult political lift’
At the present rate, Bier, at the CATO Institute, predicts Indian immigrants will continually drop out in large numbers. In February, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the bipartisan Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019, which seeks to eliminate the per-country cap on employment-based immigrant visas, while increasing the per-country cap on family-based immigrant visas.
But while addressing what Bier calls “nationality-based discrimination,” the House bill and a similar measure introduced in the Senate face opposition among some foreign nationals previously unaffected by the backlog.
Last year, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) sent a letter to corporations lobbying for a previous version of the bill, arguing that it would risk “creating a monopoly over the green card process” and “exacerbate” the impact of the Trump administration’s travel ban on Iranian nationals.
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“[It’s] a difficult political lift,” Bier told VOA. “Everyone else has an incentive to keep the system the way it is — where Indians have to wait an indefinite period of time, basically — and everyone else basically gets ushered to the front of the line, ahead of them.”
Adding to Indian doctors’ dilemmas is the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) proposed rules to end the President Barack Obama-era H-4 employment authorization program, known as H4 EAD, which allows certain spouses of H-1B visa workers to gain employment. If rescinded, it would affect some 90,000 spouses — mostly Indian women with advanced degrees.
Geetha Potineni, a network security administrator with master’s degrees in computer science and biotechnology, is one of them. Her husband, Dr. Venkat Konanki — a nine-year pediatrician at Keystone Health — says the prospect of his wife retaining the ability to work is as important as his own eventual green card prospects.
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“Instead of that, how about just going back to India?” Konanki recalls of the conversations at home, with Potineni and their two U.S.-born daughters, ages 7 and 9.
“If there was no discrimination in allotting green cards based on country of birth, I would have never needed H4 EAD,” Potineni wrote in an email to VOA. “With two advanced degrees, I never thought of not utilizing my education.” “I’ve always wanted to contribute both at home and outside of it,” she added. (VOA)
Every child who grew up in the 90s and the early 00s has certainly grown up around Tom and Jerry, the adorable, infamous cat-chases-mouse cartoon. The idea of naughtiness and playing mischief had the standards that this particular series set for children and defined how much wreckage was funny enough.
The show's creators, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera initially named their characters Jasper and Jinx. They did not plan for the fame that Tom and Jerry brought them when they released a movie by the name of "Puss Gets the Boot". This movie featured a certain cat and mouse who were a notorious pair, named Jasper and Jinx. When the movie became a hit, the names of the characters were changed and the show shot to fame.
Tom and Jerry became a go-to cartoon for children in the early 00s, and it was one of those shows with a firm foundation, that had already been in the running for decades. The original template had been planned nearly 80 years ago, and the makers did not change it. The music that was played in the many episodes, made a breakthrough in its own way. It is the most easily recognizable melody with utterly nostalgic associations.
Today, Tom and Jerry is still a household name in homes where children love cartoons Image credit: wikimedia commons
A set of supporting characters were defined for the show, to occasionally take the focus off the original pair. There was a large, black woman named Mammy Two Shoes and a bulldog who took Jerry's side. Mammy Two Shoes was discontinued because her character portrayed racist tendencies. A tall white woman replaced her, who was kinder and loved mice. Either of the women's faces was never revealed.
Today, Tom and Jerry is still a household name in homes where children love cartoons. There are a host of other shows besides this that aim to replicate the same aspects of the cartoon but do not come close at all. Despite the immense amount of violence in the show, it is a beloved pastime of parents and children alike.
Keywords: Tom and Jerry, Cartoon, Hanna and Barbera, Television
One of India's leading private museums, the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) Bengaluru, has released new primary research conducted by the ReReeti Foundation, on audience behaviour in India's cultural sector. While more than half of the respondents thought the arts and culture are essential, they rarely manage to make time for it. The majority (60.6 per cent), mostly young people under 30, felt Indian museums could present more engaging content, and most perceived culture as anthropological/ sociological. Of the diverse categories included, music emerged as the most popular cultural activity.
The report is based on a survey of 500 people, which included school and college students, professionals across sectors, homemakers and senior citizens. The first initiative of its kind in the cultural space, the report shares valuable insights into the behaviour and expectations of Indian audiences engaging with a broad range of cultural activities. As part of MAP's mission to foster meaningful connections between communities and the cultural sector globally, which includes its innovative digital programme Museums Without Borders, the report shares a wealth of insights that can help museums across the country understand their audiences better. As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.
As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities. | Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Speaking on the recent report, Kamini Sawhney, Director, Museum of Art & Photography (MAP), said, "MAP is focused on changing the notion of a museum in India, by enabling more relevant and inclusive programming, both online and in our space in Bengaluru. The audience research commissioned by MAP, and conducted by the ReReeti Foundation, provides valuable, and actionable insights which we hope will help museums across the country better understand their consumer base, improve decision making and deepen social impact." As much as 62.3 per cent college students and 47.6 per cent professionals/homemakers perceive culture as anthropological and sociological. Music was the most popular cultural event likely to be attended, followed by heritage tours and plays/comedy shows for Indian audiences.
Over 70 per cent of college students visit museums with family and friends; working professionals, homemakers and senior citizens also predominantly visit with groups/ spouses (indicating a need to focus on increased group programming/facilitation). As much as 68 per cent of people were optimistic about going outdoors for activities and events in 2021. As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.(IANS/MBI)
Keywords: Art, Culture, India, Museum, Music
What is the best way to save Goa from deforestation?
Drinking feni, may well be the answer, says the secretary of the Goa Cashew Feni Distillers and Bottlers Association Hansel Vaz, who on Thursday said, that sipping the state's unique alcoholic drink and making it popular would directly aid the greening of Goa's hills and other barren landscapes.
"To get more cashews, we need to plant more trees. I always say, by drinking feni you will save Goa, because we will be planting more cashew trees and we will have greener hills. The beauty of cashew is you do not need fertile land. You can grow it on a hill which can provide no nutrition. We will be able to grow more trees, if we can sell feni properly," Vaz said. Vaz's comments come at a time when the hillsides of the coastal state have witnessed significant deforestation for real estate development and for infrastructure projects. Feni is manufactured by fermenting and double distilling juice from the cashew apple.
Best way to keep Goa green is to grab yourself a glass of feni. | IANS
Addressing a press conference in Panaji, Vaz also said that the promotion of feni was also in sync with the Prime Minister's vision for India to go "vocal for local". "There is no conglomerate, multinational company owning the drink. So every time we sell feni, it is a direct cash injection into Goa. If you sell a feni cocktail in Calangute (a popular beach village), it makes a direct impact in Valpoi and Bicholim, because this money is going down there," the Association official said at a press conference in Panaji.
The Association held the media briefing to announce a road map ahead for the feni industry, especially vis a vis streamlining aspects related to production, standardisation and marketing of the brew to make it popular in other Indian states and abroad.
The efforts to streamline the state "heritage drink" comes a month after the Goa government notified a formal policy, 'Goa Feni Policy 2021', which covers 26 different varieties of feni distilled in the state. "There were many barriers related to feni, which the policy has now addressed," treasurer of the Association Tukaram Haldankar said. One such hurdle was the previous government classification, which described feni as "country liquor", which would deter tourists from purchasing the drink. The reclassification of feni as a state "heritage drink" has lent dignity to the brew which has been manufactured locally in Goa since the 16th century.
But there is more the government can do, along with the state's traditional distillers and manufacturers to promote feni, Haldankar said. | Photo by Ishvani Hans on Unsplash
But there is more the government can do, along with the state's traditional distillers and manufacturers to promote feni, Haldankar said. "We request the government to allow the sale of feni in duty free stores in airports and cruise liner terminals. The government should also support us through the department of Tourism, so that feni can be promoted in its programmes. iIf you go to Scotland, they promote Scotch. Goa should promote its feni to Goa," Haldankar said, adding that traditional distillers should also be given subsidies and other measures should be taken to standardise feni, which he said, "would require further subsidies and financial assistance from the government".
"It should be a standard product like scotch, champagne," Haldankar said. "Like Mexico's tequila, Russian vodka and Japan's sake, we need to export our feni across the country and the world and the local distillers should also benefit economically," president of the Association Gurudutt Bhakta also said. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: deforestation,cashew,distillers,association,government, goa, feni, India