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  • file485
    07-07 11:06 PM
    I have a .pdf file as to how the 485 files are processed right from the time we mail the packets until they r is from

    I cant attach the pdf file,probably it is too big..

    pls get in touch with that attorney too..

    dont lose heart,there should be some way around..only thing is catch hold of a good lawyer..don't wast time with company attorneys

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  • chanduv23
    04-12 05:09 PM
    Many/most of us here have worked like crazy dogs most of lives, followed the rules, and played by the book. "Everyone" does not have your cavalier attitude towards truth.

    My problem is not with consultants or nurses or doctors or magicians or whoever else is in line. My problem is with those who claim to be legal aliens but who routinely break the rules (by indulging in kickback schemes like splitting their salary with their employer).

    IV is a community of/for legal aliens wanting to become legal immigrants. Rule-breakers and others don't belong here; just because one hasn't been caught cheating the system doesn't mean one is legal.

    On a side note
    There are serious health implications working on a sedentry job like software coding for long hours. You will notice it after you are 40. No company will give you your health back.
    I recently had a big conversation with the doctor about this when i went for my phhysicals. Doctors say the software engineer lifestyle where people work long long hours is not a good lifestyle. I explained to him that it is because people's green cards is tied up and they do it by compulsion.
    I have seen some people working continuously for days , weeks , months together. I have done that too. It is not a good thing to do. health is wealth and one must take care of it first.

    This is what happens in India where a lot of outsourcing is going on. Young engineers getting high pay and expected to work long hours "this seems to be an unofficial protocol" and thats how the whole industry has turned out to be.

    Here you have your weekends - save your weekends for yoruself. Go out enjoy. If your office calls ur cell switch it off or keep it on vibrate. Go and golf, watch broad way shows, play tennis , etc..

    I do not wish to deviate from the original topic. But just wanted to let you know that "Your health is your first priority"

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  • arunmohan
    03-25 04:48 PM

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  • Macaca
    03-13 08:29 PM
    Some paras from New Math on Hill, Scramble on K Street ( -- The House's pledge of fiscal restraint could threaten tax breaks across many industries. Businesses and the lobbyists who represent them are on high alert.

    Lobbyists are scrambling all over Capitol Hill to prevent any of their clients from becoming a "pay-for."

    The Democrats' new pay-as-you-go budget regimen means that lawmakers who want to spend more on one program have to either cut another or raise taxes to pay for it. Similarly, if they want to cut taxes, they must fund the cut by trimming programs or raising other taxes to make up the difference.

    Those budgetary offsets are called pay-fors -- a new Washington buzzword striking fear in the hearts of special interests.


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  • Macaca
    08-01 08:24 PM
    House Votes 411-8 to Pass Ethics Overhaul ( Far-Reaching Measure Faces Senate Hurdles By Jonathan Weisman Washington Post Staff Writer, August 1, 2007

    The House gave final and overwhelming approval yesterday to a landmark bill that would tighten ethics and lobbying rules for Congress, forcing lawmakers to more fully detail how their campaigns are funded and how they direct government spending.

    The new lobbying bill would, for the first time, require lawmakers to disclose small campaign contributions that are "bundled" into large packages by lobbyists. It would require lobbyists to detail their own campaign contributions, as well as payments to presidential libraries, inaugural committees and charities controlled by lawmakers. The proposal would also put new disclosure requirements on special spending measures for pet projects, known as "earmarks."

    "What we did today was momentous," declared House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). "It's historic."

    The bill is the most far-reaching attempt at ethics reform since Watergate, although it is not as aggressive as some legislators wanted in restricting the use of earmarks and in requiring the disclosure of donation bundling. The legislation, which had been stalled until negotiators worked out a deal in recent days to get it passed before the August recess, is a priority for Democrats, who won control of Congress in part because they had decried what they called "a culture of corruption" under Republicans.

    Although it passed the House 411 to 8, the bill could face hurdles in the Senate, which is under a new ethics cloud after the FBI raid Monday on Sen. Ted Stevens's house. Last night, a group of Republican senators prevented Democrats from bringing up the bill, forcing the scheduling of a vote tomorrow to break the filibuster. Still, senators from both parties predicted easy passage by week's end.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) all but dared Republicans to try to block the proposal when it comes to a vote as early as tomorrow. "With that resounding vote in the House, 411-8, I think people ought to be concerned about voting against it," he said yesterday.

    But in a closed-door lunch with fellow Republican senators yesterday, Stevens (R-Alaska) himself threatened to block the measure, objecting that the legislation's new restrictions on lawmakers' use of corporate jets would unfairly penalize members of Congress who live in distant states, such as himself.

    The legislation would end secret "holds" in the Senate, which allow a single senator to block action without disclosing that he or she has done so. Members of Congress would no longer be allowed to attend lavish parties thrown in their honor at political conventions. Gifts, meals and travel funded by lobbyists would be banned, and travel on corporate jets would be restricted. Lobbyists would have to disclose their activities more often and on the Internet. And lawmakers convicted of bribery, perjury and other crimes would be denied their congressional pensions.

    "These are big-time fundamental reforms," said Fred Wertheimer, president of the open-government group Democracy 21.

    Rep. Michael N. Castle (R-Del.), who failed to get ethics legislation enacted last year, noted that the final bill's disclosure rules are considerably less tough on the "bundling" of small campaign contributions into large donations by lobbyists. The original ethics bill would have required the disclosure of bundled contributions over $5,000 every three months. Under the final bill, lawmakers would have to report every six months any bundled contributions from lobbyists totaling more than $15,000. In one year, a single lobbyist could funnel nearly $30,000 to a candidate or campaign committee without any of those actions having to be disclosed.

    House negotiators also refused to lengthen the current one-year "cooling-off" period, during which former House members are prohibited from becoming lobbyists.

    Some conservatives latched on to the weakening of earmark disclosure rules that had passed the Senate in January. An explicit prohibition on trading earmarks for votes was dropped by House and Senate Democratic negotiators. A prohibition on any earmark that would financially benefit lawmakers, their immediate families, their staff or their staff's immediate families was altered to say that the ban would apply to any earmark that advances a lawmaker's "pecuniary interest." Critics say that would mean the benefit would have to be direct for the measure to be prohibited, and that the ban would not apply to a project that would benefit a larger community, including the lawmaker.

    House members are covered by earmark rules, passed earlier this year, that are tougher than the legislation, which would apply only to senators.

    "Earmarks have been the currency of corruption and, unfortunately, this lobbying reform bill does not adequately address that problem," declared Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a longtime critic of earmarks.

    Reform groups and Democrats accused opponents of using the earmark issue as a pretext to block the other rule changes. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who has blocked the legislation in the past, confirmed that he remains uncomfortable with the broader bill's mandates on lobbying disclosures and gift bans.

    "You could've done nothing, or some staff member could have made an innocent mistake, and now you're defending yourself in a court of law," he said. "It's nuts."

    Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), another critic, had single-handedly blocked the calling of a formal House-Senate conference to negotiate the final deal, forcing Democrats to hammer out the compromise on their own. The House passed it under fast-track procedures that prohibit amendments but require a two-thirds majority for approval -- a threshold that was easily met.

    Now, Reid must get the bill through the Senate without any amendment, using a parliamentary tactic that has been roundly criticized by Republicans in the past as strong-arming. But in this case, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has given his tacit assent, laying the blame squarely on his own conservative hard-liners.

    "In a sense, we made it difficult on ourselves," McConnell said.

    It may be even more difficult for Republicans to block the measure while their senior senator, Stevens, is under a cloud of suspicion. FBI agents raided the powerful lawmaker's house Monday, looking for evidence in a long-running investigation of an Alaska energy firm, Veco, and its alleged efforts to bribe Alaska lawmakers.

    And yesterday, the House ethics committee indicated that it may consider an inquiry into whether Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R-N.M.) violated rules by calling a federal prosecutor about a pending investigation. The committee's staff interviewed the prosecutor, former U.S. attorney David C. Iglesias, yesterday.

    At least eight lawmakers -- six Republicans and two Democrats -- are under federal investigation. Earlier this year, the homes and business interests of Reps. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) and John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.) were searched, and Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.) was indicted on corruption charges.

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  • gcisadawg
    12-23 05:33 PM
    It seems there are enough pathetic liars who are propagating lies like "99% of terrorist are muslims" (ever heard of bodo, tamil tigers, Khalistan movement, BJP, VHP, SP?) , or about population of muslims in india... have you done a survey? Or perhaps the government deliberately cooked demographics to upease brahman dominance? It seems quite convincing reading your comments that a particular segmant of hindu group carries very deep hatred of muslims in them and propagate it by lies, murder and debauchary... wonder who you god(s) are, or is godse your god!

    Shuyaib bhai,


    Dude, don't get upset! There are terrorists from other faiths as you mentioned. Lets take last ten years. Put your hand on the heart, look around and when you hear/read about all those terrorist actions what do you think? Isn't it done in the name of Islam? If not 99%, a majority of terrorist acts are committed by Muslims in the name of Islam. It is easily above 51%, a technical majority. Is mentioning that Propaganda?

    Why did Mumbai happen? Why did Parliament happen? Why did Ashkardam happen? In all these cases the attack happened openly and security forces battled the terrorists. The people who pulled levers and initiated these actions did it neither for the sake of Islam nor for Indian Muslims, contrary to their claim. They have their own political calculations and Indian Muslims are used as a pawn in that game. Unfortunately, some Indian Muslims fall in that trap and help those perps in furthering their agenda. All in the name of Islam and protecting the 'interests' of Indian Muslims.



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  • soni7007
    08-06 02:42 PM
    yes, ofcourse it makes a difference for lot of people, i was just stating my case.

    Yes, EB3 person (e.g-A) can acquire skills over a period of time and so does a person who went for higher education and is EB2 (e.g-B). They both should be equal, but what porting does is makes "A" ahead in line of "B" which i think is unfair.
    If there was no porting, A has a PD of 2002 (in EB3) and B has a PD of 2005 (in EB2), then they are almost in the same position, which i think is fair.

    My situation is different because i haven't applied for labor, so i am not undermining my education. If i was to apply anytime, i would apply for EB1 or EB2.
    But as i said, i personally do not see any value in getting the GC a few years earlier or later.

    But for some getting a GC earlier makes a huge difference in their lives. Ask someone whose kid might just be a few months before he/she becomes 21 (A colleague in my team is in that situation). Ask someone who is dire need for extra money and wish to become permanent.

    I had told in an earlier post, it all depends on individual situation, some people cite an extreme case to put forth their point and some other counters that by citing an extreme case on the opposite end.

    So you mean to say that an EB3 cannot acquire superior skills over a period of time?.

    Seriously you should, otherwise you would undermine the value of your education. It runs counter to your argument that EB2 Masters has more value and deserves not to be clubbed with EB3 while you are willing to stick on to an EB3 PD. Something doesn�t sound right here�

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  • validIV
    06-05 02:01 PM
    This is your justification for renting? Your 1300 goes to that owners mortgage. You are paying so that he can own the property you live in. I would not be surprised if he has multiple condos renting to others like you.

    Since you cite an example, let me cite one of mine.

    Co-op bought in 2004, Queens NY 2 bedroom: $155,000
    Rented now for $1,350 / month (Wife and I live in another home we also own also in queens)
    Appraised value (Feb 2009) $195,000, Peak market value (my opinion) ~230,000 in 2006 but it seems to be worth more now which is clueless to me.
    Outstanding balance: 60,000
    Current mortgage (15y fixed@4.25): 452 / month (+525 maintenance)
    Monthly cost total: ~1,000
    Comps in area: See for yourself:

    Lets say that person is you renting it. You are paying to stay in my unit, pay my mortgage, pay my monthly, allow me to build equity which i just used to buy another property (thank you) and using standard deductions, allowing me to have a healthy tax return from interest paid based on your money. I dont even need to do any math here to prove I am making money from your rent because believe me I am.

    Renters will never understand why owning a home is better than renting as thus they will continue to make arguments to continue doing so. And I'm sure that giving 1 example or 100 examples will not change your mind in the slightest. Which is why you will always be paying owners like me for a roof to live under.

    I doubt it is as clear cut as you make it to be. Rent vs. buy has two components in each option - the monthly cost and the long term saving/investment. Let me take the example of the apartment I live in. It would cost about 360k (I am not considering the closing cost, the cost to buy new appliances and so on when you move in etc) if we were to buy it as a condo in the market. We rent it for $1300.

    Monthly Cost:
    Interest (very simplistic calculation): 5% on 180k on average over 30 years. i.e. $750 per month. After Tax deduction cost ~$700 (you lose on standard deduction if you take property tax deduction - so effective saving is wayyy lower than the marginal tax rate).

    Property Tax: $400 per month.

    Maintenance/depreciation of appliances: assume $200 per month (easily could be more).
    Total: 1300.
    Long term investment: $360k at 3% per annum (long term housing price increase trend).
    You pay for this saving with leverage and $1000 amortization every month for the loan principal.

    Loss of flexibility/Risk : Not sure how to quantify.

    Monthly cost = $1300.
    Long Term Saving (assuming you put the same $1000 every month in a normal high yeild savings account - a Reward Checking maybe) - you will get a risk free 5%.

    So in this case you are paying the same monthly cost for house purchase vs rent. but you are losing out on the additional 2% per month in investment return.

    Plus - buying gets you into a lot riskier position.

    I have seen the proponents of buying fails to take a couple of factors into account:
    1. Real Estate, historically, is not a good investment. It is even worse than the best savings accounts available. And you could easily save your monthly amortization in better savings vehicles.
    2. Tax deduction from interest means you lose on standard deduction. In the above example - a family of 3 with 1 earner will have NO saving from housing tax deduction. They would be better off using the standard deduction. If there are 2 earners - they could try to work around this by filing separately and one taking deduction for housing interest and the other taking the standard deduction. But even that will probably not save you any money since many other tax rates are stacked up against single filers.


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  • wellwishergc
    07-11 11:48 AM
    Please ignore my previous posting! I saw in one of the earlier postings that you are approved. Congratulations and Best wishes! and welcome back to this forum; Please help us here whenever you can.

    Is your GC approved now?

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  • ita
    07-14 11:24 AM
    Wll support campaign for EB3 . Please let this happen.
    Appreciate all the comments on how the initiative(s) won't work. But at the same time if they can in some way suggest what will work that will be great.
    I'm sure not doing anything will be not be a right thing .
    I do agree we have to make noice. Let's work on how to make effective noise.
    My thoughts are running on Letter/Call campaigns.
    Don't know anything about what should be done effectively.Else I would be posting it here.
    But for sure I'll support initiative(s) for EB3-I.

    Thank you.


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  • puddonhead
    06-05 07:47 PM
    >> US does not produce any consumer goods, its all China..if you don't produce you don't sell and if you don't sell you don't make an income, and if you don't make an income you don't pay taxes...plain and simple. So, what do we do, Borrow and spend.. but remember, the interest obligations will grow to suck the dollars away from goods and services that it purchases. (Folks are in China now )

    I believe this is oversimplified. You are completely ignoring the value of knowledge properties and innovation.

    Lets take the example of Boeing. 20 years down the line - it may decide that manufacturing may make more sense in China and relocate its factory. However, my belief is that it will be very difficult for Boeing to relocate all of its knowledge workers. The low levels ones are easy to relocate. But the key innovators will continue coming from the US education system. The next generation of ceramic or alloy materials to build components will be invented in US 90% of the time (It may be a bold claim - I will substantiate this in more detail later).

    If the key innovators/management are in/from US - a lot of the profit of this corporation would stay in the US - either in the form of taxes or return paid to shareholders. In fact, I would argue that the intellectual properties (that US would "own") will be more valuable than the value addition from the grunt work in China/India. So your comment suggesting that US is no longer adding any real value to the world economy is probably misplaced.

    Now to my big assumption/comment about the unassailable lead in innovation.
    US is unique in that it allowed the best people from all over the world immigrate and let all ideas mingle to create great ones. No other country allowed this. No other country is even in the horizon to be doing that in the next 100 years. There are so many tech workers in Bangalore and so many manufacturers in China - how many latest innovations did you see coming from there? Unless Bangalore/Shanghai becomes the next hub for people all over the world to come in and synthesize ideas - they will never replace the US. I dont see that happening any time soon.

    And what happens if the Lou Dobbs types are successful and US goes down the drain? Well - then all of us are well and truely screwed and the economy, its trends etc become meaningless. The world has many major issues to face in the next 100 years - global worming, over population, depleting natural resources etc. If there is no center of innovation any more (like the current US) - then all the calculations we do about economy and all will probably be irrelevant. When you are fighting for survival then economy does not matter - your next bowl of rice does.

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  • rajs
    03-24 06:07 PM
    i thing some1 has complained to uscis about you,
    so your case is refered to NFDC , YOU might also get a interview call soon.
    or the best thing get your GD
    all the best


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  • logiclife
    04-07 12:33 AM
    Desi consulting comapanies will not be affected. Consider this, if this bill becomes you can't transfer Visa and stick to the same employer. They can pay whatever they feel like paying (may be $7 per hr) and abuse the way they want. we will continue to extend the Visa and work as slaves thinking that this will get over one day like the Green card mess.

    They will earn more with less people and buy all the new model cars and houses everywhere in US.

    This is our problem and we have to fight for our good.

    You are wrong, see my post above. Even if you stay at same employer, your H1 wont be extended if you file for extension. If extension fails, its goodbye for employee and loss of employee and revenue for employer.


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  • pthoko
    07-17 01:39 PM
    I am assuming that you haven't left the country since 2005?

    Going from h-4 to h-1 or L-1 to H-1b is a gray area in regards to have you actually changed your status and what happens if you maintain your old status.

    What is for sure is when you are on F-1 and you file a change of status to h-1b. For sure at this point your status is h-1b.

    Some lawyers will tell you that if you continue on L-1 then you have violted your status; others will tell you differently.

    Anytime there is a questionable issue then you definitely want to go out and re-enter and get an I-94 card. (use auto revalidation by going to canada). This will take the gray out of it.

    Once you have used auto revalidation then tell the absolute truth on the G-325a. USCIS won't be able to do anything about it. However; if they dig into it and accuse you of fraud then you are in for a long and difficult battle.(note: checking status is #1 thing uscis does in examining a 485 application).

    The big danger people will have is that regardless of whether people will be able to file now or later; the dates will go backwards. During this retrogressed time; uscis will pre-adjuidcate cases. Therefore, it is possible that they could deny your case but you wouldn't be able to re-file it until the dates have become current again.

    Thanks Unitednations!
    I was waiting for your reply, good to see you back. I talked to my attorney(Looks like she's a good one, 20 years Expericence, for several years she's been in America's Best Lawyers). This is what she said
    "I don't think that it is worth worrying about this. It is definitely not
    unlawful presence, if anything you were out of status, but I think that even this is
    debatable. YOu will have to deal with this issue whenever you file, so I would not use

    She says travel might have its own issues, so she wouldn't suggest going to Canada just for this, but if I want I can go. Yesterday, I thought I'll go by wahtever she says and asked her to go ahead and file. I don't know if she has filed yet. BUT this issue is always at the back of my mind and disturbing me. I think I'll never get over it....

    So please give your suggestion on auto revalidation?? Initially I was thinking that I should get my H1 stamped in Canada, Now I understand this is not required. Is it a problem if I DONT have a prior H1B stamp on the passport?? What I have is my expired L1 stamp. What all do they check at the border for revalidation?? How risky is it?? Please give me your suggestion. I personally want to do it and get it out of my head, but am fearing if something bad happens.......






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  • mariner5555
    04-15 04:26 PM
    one last addition ..I guess builders are normally the optimistic lot even when things are bad ..and they seem unhappy now (which means happier days are ahead for fence sitters like me (who are waiting for a GC by the way before looking) ..

    Fitch Ratings said in a conference call Tuesday that the housing sector is likely to continue to contract throughout 2008, and could worsen further in 2009 if the economy slides into a sharp recession. The ratings agency said low mortgage rates, cheaper home prices and government proposals to aid the ailing industry will not be enough to spark a turnaround.

    "Despite a few steps in the right direction, U.S. housing remains mired in a steep cyclical decline, with more pain likely for U.S. homebuilders through 2008," said Fitch homebuilding analyst Robert Curran

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  • prioritydate
    01-10 10:24 PM
    First of all, thanks for converting my argument about Europeans and native peoples into Muslims and non-Muslims. Shows us where our respective prejudices and biases lie. I am very happy when my comments on any situation are turned into a broad 'us vs them' thing. It just shows us that our primitive and primal instincts from the time when we split from the apes are still alive and kicking in some people. Its pretty fascinating for me.

    Secondly there is a difference between military strikes (retaliatory or otherwise), and acts of massacres. Pretty much the same as there is a difference between military confrontation and ethnic cleansing. If you condone and defend the latter, then you are pretty much defending ethnic cleansing. Striking Hamas targets are military strikes. Holing up a hundred members of an extended family into a house, and then destroying the house is an act of massacre. When we defend acts like the latter one, we defend ethnic cleansing.

    I didn't relate anything, you tried to relate and I supported that. If some hardcore terrorist gathers his family members and try to hide in some house, then I would support bombing that house, so we can get rid of that terrorist. If Bin Laden gathers 20 children and hides in cave, I would say go and drop a nuke on the cave! I don't care...


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  • Marphad
    12-22 04:38 PM
    Alright! Let us be adults. It is like Sri Lanka going all over and telling the world that LTTE is as lethal as Al Qaida and is a threat to US, UK, Israel and Europe. Although US and UK has declared them as terrorist organization, I think it was more because they had a hand in Rajiv Gandhi's assasination.
    Agreed, LTTE is a terror org and their issue is Sinhalese treatment of Tamils.
    (another example of the tyranny of the majority against minority) .
    Lankans may be followers of Buddha but when it came to Tamils, they were far from being a Buddha and more like anti-buddha!

    And Israel did the same thing too. It projected its conflict with Palestinians as part of Bush's global war on terror, the centre piece of which was a war-of-choice in Iraq. Russians tried to project their conflict in Chechnya as part of Global war on terror. Now Georgia is trying to project it as a victim. The line between aggressor and the victim is becoming increasingly blurred. That is the reason I believe, this issue is much more than black and white with a shade of Gray all over it. We can argue till the cows come home but until the countries understand the motivation of (any) enemy, the enemy is not going to be defeated.

    So tomorrow if I loose a job and kill someone considering responsible for it is justifiable? Where is the gray area?

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  • xyzgc
    12-20 03:19 PM
    Abdul Rehman Antulay. Current cabinet minister and EX Maharastra CM. The guy who created biggest cement scandal at the time and was exposed by Arun Shourie.

    He is a konkani muslim.
    Famous Konkani Muslims - some good and some evil.

    * Makhdoom Ali Mahimi - Sufi Saint of Mahim
    * Abdul Rehman Antulay- Politician, ex-Chief Minister of Maharashtra
    * Mukri - Hindi Film Actor
    * Dawood Ibrahim - Underworld Kidnapping and Narcotics Kingpin
    * Shafi Inamdar - Hindi Film Actor
    * Fareed Zakaria - Editor, Newsweek
    * Rafique Zakaria - Famous Islamic Scholar and MP
    * Ghulam Parkar - Indian Cricketer
    * Usman Hajwane - Poet, Writer
    * Sharaf Kamali - Poet

    As a side note a lot of muslim terrorists come from Mumbra - a Bombay suburb. Its 70% musclemann,
    It was a town that formed Mughal outpost in the 14th century.
    Worse, its a fairly literate town, that disposes the theory that terrorism is a direct offshoot of poverty and lack of education. Not true.

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  • pappu
    03-23 11:45 AM
    How did you verify if the call was really from Immigration services?

    04-09 07:29 AM
    We've met with a lot of law makers and their aids, and really the housing down turn is not an argument for GC that is productive to use. If I get 30 minutes with a law maker's aid, each minute is valuable I can muster many more compelling arguments in that time.

    So to answer your question: yes IV has considered this, but only for about 2 seconds. It is something that is not worth raising with law makers or media.

    o.k. ..Thanks.
    In that case, I honestly don't know why a lawmaker would care much about faster GC processing. if I was a lawmaker and someone comes to me complaining about USCIS - I would think in my mind "hey that is the system with it". I would think the lawmaker would be thinking about other things (like having fun :-)) ..or taking care of the lobbyists who give them donations.
    ..I guess the only other hope would be if other countries in europe start giving super fast blue cards and the talent starts to go there. unless there is urgency the system will never change. even the namechecks were relaxed because of lawsuits.
    I guess the only silver lining is that I will continue to rent (become richer ;-) and have fun while watching the home prices go down and down)

    12-27 07:04 PM
    2010: India's undeclared year of Africa ( By RAJIV BHATIA | The Hindu

    An objective evaluation of changing contours of our engagement with Africa, especially in light of significant developments in 2010, might interest Africa watchers and others.

    Conceptual richness and consistency appear to characterise recent interactions, although their impact may still take a while to be felt tangibly.


    If the period from our Independence to the end of the 1980s was marked by India's close involvement with Africa in political affairs, peacekeeping, training, culture and education, the 1990s turned out to be a lost decade. That was the time when policy makers were busy trying to re-adapt India's foreign policy to the post-Cold War world. Subsequently, the Africans' unhappiness with their neglect by India, China's rapidly growing profile on the continent, and the enhanced dynamism of India Inc. combined to initiate a renewal of India-Africa relations. The Government's three initiatives, namely the ‘Focus Africa Programme' under Exim policy for 2002-07, the ‘Techno-Economic Approach for Africa and India Movement' or TEAM-9 programme, launched in 2004 to upgrade economic relations with West Africa, and the Pan-African e-Network started in 2007, helped in sending the signal that India had not vacated space in Africa for others.

    In this backdrop, the India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) in 2008 represented a veritable high point, showcasing a new, vibrant India as well as its reinvigorated Africa policy. The following year was a relative disappointment. But, developments during 2010 seem to have put India's engagement with Africa on a fast track.


    India played host to at least eight high-level African dignitaries, one each from the Seychelles, Ghana, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Kenya, Malawi and Ethiopia. Visits by presidents, prime ministers and other VIPs throughout the year demonstrated that Africa was keen to expand political and development cooperation with India. Armando Guebuza, President of Mozambique, endorsed India's approach towards Africa, expressing readiness “to raise the (bilateral relationship) to a strategic partnership.” Hailemariam Desalegn, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, chose to accord high importance to economic issues. Following a productive meeting of the joint commission, the two sides decided, “to infuse the close political relationship with greater economic content.” The visit by South African President Jacob Zuma helped in re-defining the bilateral agenda and re-launching the joint CEOs Forum.

    Happily, Indian leaders found time to visit Africa in 2010. Vice-President Hamid Ansari's three-country tour covering Zambia, Malawi and Botswana was a notable success. Given his credentials, he was able to evoke old memories of deep political and emotional affinity as well as highlight mutuality of interests and the need for expansion of economic cooperation, thus lending a contemporary character to age-old ties. That he backed it with the announcement of credits and grants (for the three countries) amounting to about $200 million, in addition to credit lines valued at $60 million that were operational prior to the visit, showed India's new strength. This was on display again as the Government agreed to arrange major lines of credits for others: $705 million for Ethiopia for sugar and power sector development and $500 million for Mozambique for infrastructure, agriculture and energy projects.

    The decision by the IAFS to set aside $5.4 billion for lines of credit and $500 million for human resource development during a five-year period means that now nearly $1 billion a year is available for cooperation with Africa. Utilising India's new financial muscle, an ambitious expansion of training programmes for the benefit of Africans is being attempted at present.

    External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna got a direct feel of issues and personalities on his visit to the Seychelles, Mauritius and Mozambique. As these are all Indian Ocean countries, the strategic dimension of cooperation, especially relating to piracy, terrorism and changing foreign maritime presence, received considerable attention during his discussions. Later the minister, talking to a group of African journalists visiting India, emphasised that our relationship with Africa had “transformed”, with the two sides becoming “development partners looking out for each other's interests and well-being.”

    Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma undertook visits to South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya. He was instrumental in facilitating and moulding business-to-business dialogues in all the countries visited, with the help of organisations such as the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). For business level exchanges, however, the most significant event in the year was CII-Exim Bank Conclave, held in Delhi in March. About 1,000 delegates attended it, half of whom were from various African countries.

    Bilateral trade

    Bilateral India-Africa trade, which stood at about $1 billion in 2001, has now reached the $40 billion mark. It is an encouraging growth. Figures about India's investments in Africa are confusing, but by taking an average of the figures of cumulative investments released by the Reserve Bank, the CII and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), one could place a value of $50 billion on them.

    Three other highlights need to be mentioned here. First, India hosted a meeting of top officials of Africa's Regional Economic Communities (RECs). A first of its kind, the meeting was attended by six of the eight RECs, namely Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Southern African Development Community (SADC), Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) and United Nations Association/Arab Maghreb Union (UNA/AMU). It gave them the opportunity to interact with numerous Ministries and business enterprises. Coverage of areas viz stock exchanges, small industry, food processing, infrastructure, IT and telecommunications was quite wide. The visitors expressed “gratitude” to India for the initiative “to recognise the regional dimension of Africa's development.”

    Second, top officials of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) undertook visits to Kampala and Addis Ababa in order to carry forward India's dialogue with the African Union (AU) for nurturing ties at the continental level. On the sidelines of its 15th Summit in Kampala in July, Jean Ping, Chairman of the African Union Commission (AUC), expressed immense satisfaction at the model of engagement created by India, adding that it was “the most unique and preferred of Africa's partnerships.” In plain language, he seemed to confirm the view that among many suitors of Africa, both old and new, the two most active are China and India. Ping was also happy with “the determined pace at which implementation (of IAFS decisions) has been undertaken.” However, this might have been more credible had the two sides announced, by now, the venue and timing of the second IAFS.

    Third, a boost to our Africa diplomacy came with the announcement of the Hermes Prize for Innovation 2010 for India's Pan-African e-Network project. The prize was given by the European Institute of Creative Strategies and Innovation, a prestigious think tank. It called the project as “the most ambitious programme of distance education and tele-medicine in Africa ever undertaken.”\

    A few tips

    While moving determinedly to strengthen relations with Africa, the Government needs to do more. African diplomats still speak of the deficit in India's political visibility. Therefore, our President and Prime Minister should find time to visit Africa in 2011. More visits by Mr. Krishna would be helpful. Implementation of the first IAFS decisions, though improving, needs to be speeded up. India Inc. should be more active. In preparing for the second IAFS, South Block should draw from outside expertise. The civil society's potential to strengthen people-to-people relations should be tapped optimally. By according higher attention to Africa, the media could serve as a valuable bridge of mutual understanding.

    Finally, India should declare and celebrate 2011 as its Africa Year.

    The author is former High Commissioner to South Africa, Lesotho and Kenya

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