Friday November 24, 2017
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T&T central bank sacks Indian-origin governor Rambarran


Port-of-Spain: The sacking of Jwala Rambarran, who is of Indian descent, as governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, has triggered an uproar in both the political and ethnic quarters of the twin-island nation in the Caribbean.

Trinidad and Tobago Finance Minister Colm Imbert accused Rambarran of violating several laws, for which he and could face criminal charges.

He was appointed by former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who is also of Indian origin, three-and-a-half years ago amid criticism that he was chosen over officials with better qualifications. His tenure was for five years.

Rambarran was the second person of East Indian descent to hold the position, the other being Winston Dookeran since the Central Bank was established in 1964, two years after Independence from British rule in 1962.

Even when the People’s National Movement (PNM) was in opposition, it had been criticizing Rambarran, calling him an On-the-Job Training(OJT).

Rambarran’s dismissal came on Wednesday after the cabinet held its last meeting before Christmas. A government source said that the governor breached several financial laws since the PNM came in power last September and could face criminal charges which carry fines and a prison term.

It is alleged that Rambarran breached three laws: the Central Bank Act, the Financial Institution Act and the Exchange Control Act.

“The cabinet took the decision after very careful deliberations,” Imbert said.

Rambarran had named three companies for violation of foreign exchange laws. The companies had written to Imbert to complain about this and had pledged to take legal action.

Rambarran said local laws gave him the authority to release the names, adding that people had a right to know that a large part of the foreign exchange was being used in the import and distribution trade. Rambarran also had announced that the economy of this oil- and gas-rich island nation had fallen into a recession with four straight quarters of economic decline.

Both Imbert and Prime Minister Keith Rowley said the governor did not back up his claim with government data.

Rambarran was fired following other complaints, including shortages of hard currency in commercial banks to pay for imports following several operational changes at the Central Bank, the government said.

Persad-Bissessar said that she was shocked but not surprised, noting that the removal had all the hallmarks of the PNM government. In a statement, she also likened his dismissal to the PNM regime’s action against former Speaker of the House of Representatives, and a former Chief Justice, Satnarine Sharma, both Hindus and of Indian origin.

Persad-Bissessar said that it was the continuation of the victimisation that has been taking place since the Rowley government took over from her last September. “Rambarran’s crime has nothing to do with his competence but with statements that have offended the governing elite and its friends,” she said.

About 35 percent of the country’s 1.2 million population is of Indian origin, most of them Hindus. (IANS) (Picture

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Indians say no to Visa as OCI cards enough to visit India

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New Delhi: Indians will no longer have to get a visa every time they travel to their motherland. The decision was taken seeing the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) being merged under the same wing last year.

The pertinence of an OCI card will be enough to enter the country, hence eradicating the need for a visa.

Although, carrying a passport will be compulsory.

According to a senior government official: “Till now, every OCI card holder also had to get a visa affixed from the Indian High Commission whenever they planned a visit to India. Now, only the OCI card will be needed”.

The government has planned to print OCI cards in prominent countries like UK and USA, where a majority of Indian population resides.


The government altered the citizenship act last year, collaborating the OCI and PIO
“Since the announcement, there was a lot of confusion among the diaspora regarding the two cards. The respective missions in foreign countries held workshops and tried to clear doubts. The earlier deadline to migrate from PIO to OCI was January 2016, but we have now extended the deadline to June 30,” the official said.

The merging of OCI and PIO will help the government in gaining an actual database of the Indian diaspora since an amalgamated figure is not present.


“Keeping in view the promise [made by PM Modi in the USA and Australia in 2014], an ordinance was promulgated on January 6, 2015 whereby the eligibility and additional benefits of the PIO card have been incorporated in the OCI card and certain other relaxation to OCI card holders have been given by amending the Citizenship Act, 1955. The PIO and the OCI cards used to exist simultaneously, leading to a lot of confusion among the PIOs residing abroad,” an official said. (Inputs from The Hindu)

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Indian-origin director debuts with film on Hindu deities


New York: An Indian-origin animator in the US will debut as a director in theatres on November 25 with his short film, a media report said.

Working as an animator with Pixer since 1996, Sanjay Patel made his first project that revolves around Hindu deities who are like avengers, news portal reported on Tuesday.

Sanjay’s Super Team, the first Pixar film on Hindu deities and the first Pixar toon by an Indian-origin director, is a short superhero movie that will be attached to Pixer’s another animated film The Good Dinosaur.

Premiered on June 15 at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France, the seven-minute short film will be played before The Good Dinosaur when it hits the silver screen.

Patel’s film revolves around a little Hindu boy who prefers cartoons of superheroes while his father wants him to join the morning prayers, the report said.

One day, the boy sees Vishnu, Hanuman and Durga as the avengers who save him from a problem.

While he was researching about the characters of Hindu mythology from the comic books of Amar Chitra Katha (Immortal Picture Tales), he did not actually draw according to them, he said.

Patel said the story of the film is as much about Sanjay’s relationship with his father.

“I was a late bloomer in my parents’ culture,” he said, adding that after working for 10 years at Pixar he discovered Indian art and mythology.

“It helped me understand why my parents said ‘Sita Ram’ when I sneezed,” Patel joked.

Patel has worked as an animator on films like Monsters Inc., Ratatouille, Cars, Monsters University, Toy Story 2 and The Incredibles, and has been a story-boarder on the latter two films.


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Flowing water filled Gale Crater on Mars: Indian-origin scientist


Washington: Around 3.3-3.8 billion years ago, a series of streams and lakes existed on the Red Planet, filling the Gale Crater with sediment deposited as layers that formed the foundation for the mountain named Mouth Sharp, an Indian-origin scientist has revealed.

According to Ashwin Vasavada, project scientist with NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the Red Planet appears to have had a more massive atmosphere billions of years ago than it does today, with an active hydrosphere capable of storing water in long-lived lakes.

The MSL team has concluded that this water helped to fill Gale Crater, Curiosity’s landing site.

“Observations from Curiosity rover suggest that a series of long-lived streams and lakes existed at some point in the past, delivering sediment that slowly built up the lower layers of Mount Sharp,” explained Vasavada.

Using Curiosity data, MSL scientists have pieced together an increasingly coherent and compelling story about the evolution of this region of Mars.

Before Curiosity landed on Mars, scientists proposed that Gale Crater had filled with layers of sediments.

Some hypotheses implied that the sediments accumulated from wind-blown dust and sand whereas others focused on the possibility that sediment layers were deposited in ancient streams and lakes.

The latest results indicate that these wetter scenarios were correct for the lower portions of Mount Sharp.

“During the traverse of Gale, we have noticed patterns in the geology where we saw evidence of ancient fast-moving streams with coarser gravel as well as places where streams appear to have emptied out into bodies of standing water,” Vasavada emphasised.

The prediction was that we should start seeing water-deposited, fine-grained rocks closer to Mount Sharp.

“Now that we have arrived, we are seeing finely laminated mud-stones in abundance. These silty layers in the strata are interpreted as ancient lake deposits,” he pointed out.

“These finely laminated mud-stones are very similar to those we see on Earth,” added Woody Fischer, professor of geobiology and coauthor of the paper.

The mud-stones indicates the presence of bodies of standing water in the form of lakes that remained for long periods of time, possibly repeatedly expanding and contracting during hundreds to millions of years.

These lakes deposited the sediment that eventually formed the lower portion of the mountain.

A lingering question surrounds the original source of the water that carried sediment into the crater.

For flowing water to have existed on the surface, Mars must have had a thicker atmosphere and warmer climate.

Curiosity has been exploring Gale Crater since August 2012.

In mid-September 2014, the rover reached the foothills of Mount Sharp. Curiosity has been exploring the base of the mountain since then.

The new findings were published in the journal Science.