Desi Talk - page 8

– that’s all you need to know
8
April 3, 2015
NATIONAL AFFAIRS
By Ela Dutt
ndian-American parents
demanded lawmakers and
the Obama administration
do more to bring their
abducted children back to
the United States and to press
India to treat this as a child rights
issue. At a March 25
Congressional hearing of the
Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on
Africa, Global Health, Global
Human Rights and International
Organizations, the State
Department assured lawmakers it
would implement the 2014 “Sean
and David Goldman Child
Abduction Prevention and Return
Act,” to bring children abducted
by a parent back to the U.S.
Bindu Philips of Plainsboro,
New Jersey, whose children were
abducted to India, testified at the
hearing along with several other
parents, a number of them
Indian-Americans, who have suf-
fered a similar plight, such as Ravi
Parmar, founder of Bring Our Kids
Home, joined the day-long lobby-
ing effort inWashington, D.C.
They met the State Department’s
Director of the Office of Children’s
Rights Issues Henry Hand as well
as senior staffers of the Judiciary
Committee and the Chief of Staff
of Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell on Capitol Hill to
make their case. About 25 parents
of abducted children representing
five organizations also held a can-
dlelight vigil before theWhite
House.
“My world and that of my
innocent children, was violently
disrupted by my ex-husband,
Sunil Jacob in December of 2008,
when he orchestrated the kidnap-
ping of the children during a
vacation to India,” Philips said. “I
would note that the children, my
ex-husband and I are American
citizens and that the children
were born in America, which is
the only nation they identified
with as home.” Philips was
accompanied by a Plainsboro law
enforcement officer to the Capitol
Hill hearing.
Despite the New Jersey
Superior Court awarding her sole
legal and residential custody of
the children in December 2009,
she has not been able to see or
communicate with her children.
“My children have lost six years of
their mother’s love and care and I
have lost six years of my children’s
childhood that neither of us can
ever get back. I have put every-
thing I have into my mission to be
reunited with my children.”
Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey,
chair of the subcommittee and
long-time advocate on parental
abduction issues, noted that
approximately 1,000 American
children are unlawfully removed
from their homes by one of their
parents and taken across interna-
tional borders. Less than half of
these children ever come home.
Parmar, whose son was
abducted three years ago and is
now six years old, told News India
Times there needed to be better
collaboration between the U.S.
and Indian governments over this
issue. “I don’t think anybody gets
it right,” said the frustrated
Parmar. “First, both countries hate
to recognize this is a big problem.
While the U.S. has recognized it
from a child’s right perspective,
India has not, so there’s no policy
response.”
The activists hope to use the
hearing and their meetings with
administration officials to drive
home the importance of includ-
ing parental abductions in the
diplomatic dialogue between the
two countries.
“We don’t have to make this a
fight between governments. There
are abductions from India to this
country as well,” Parmar noted.
But Indian courts must recognize
abductions from the U.S. to India
as illegal and not award custody
when they hear such cases. They
should declare they have no juris-
diction, just as U.S. courts do.
The State Department’s Special
Advisor on Children’s Issues Susan
Jacobs who testified at the hear-
ing, said she was traveling to India
inMay and a Congressional dele-
gation accompanying her would
be a plus. Ambassador Jacobs tes-
tified that of over 900 cases of
international child abductions
and parental access in 2014, 260
were returned or resolved. That
meant approximately two-thirds
remained abducted overseas. She
promised the “left behind” par-
ents at the hearing that she would
enforce the Goldman Act.
The Goldman Act which Rep.
Smith introduced and which
became law last year, lays down
eight steps that the
Administration should take when
a country refuses to cooperate in
the resolution of overseas abduc-
tion and access cases involving
American children.
Each step increases in level of
severity from a mere demarche to
demanding an extradition of any-
one charged with the extraditable
offense.
Parents’ Lobby Lawmakers, Administration on Child Abductions to India
FromNews Dispatches
P
reet Bharara, U.S. Attorney
for the Southern District of
NewYork is seeking more
time for the U.S. government to
respond to a lawsuit filed against
Secretary of State John Kerry by a
Sikh rights group demanding that
the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
(RSS) be designated as a foreign
terrorist organization.
The lawsuit, filed in January, by
Sikhs of Justice, a human’s right
advocacy group, based in New
York, requests the court that RSS
along with its affiliates and
subsidiaries be designated
as FTOs. The lawsuit fur-
ther demands that the RSS
be designated as a
Specially Designated
Global Terrorist entity
(SDGT) “for believing in
and practicing a fascist ide-
ology and for running a
passionate, vicious and
violent campaign to turn
India into a ‘Hindu’ nation
with a homogenous reli-
gious and cultural identity.”
According to a Press Trust of
India report, Bharara has request-
ed Judge Laura Taylor Swain to
grant him time till April 14 to file a
motion. The government’s dead-
line to respond to the com-
plaint was March 24. “In
lieu of an answer, the gov-
ernment intends to move to
dismiss the complaint, and
requires additional time to
finalize its motion and sup-
porting papers,” the PTI
report quoted Bharara as
saying.
The SFJ noted that since
the filing of the lawsuit, sev-
eral instances of violence
against Christians in India,
including burning of a
church and rape of a nun, have
been reported.
SJF attorney Gurpatwant
Singh Pannun told PTI that the
group will “amend” the com-
plaint to include the “increased
threats and continuous use of
violence against the religious
minorities.”
“The TerrorismWatch &
Warning”, aWashington, D.C.-
based think tank in its
December 2014 report, catego-
rized RSS as a “Threat Group”
and called it “a shadowy, dis-
criminatory group that seeks to
establish a Hindu Rashtra, a
Hindu nation,” the PTI report
said.
I
Above, Bindu Philips testifying March 25. Below, Vikram Jagtiani, Tova Sengupta,
Ravi Parmar and Samina Rahman at the candle light vigil.
By a Staff Writer
R
ajiv Shah, the former
director of the United
States Agency for
International Development,
has been appointed to the
Board of Trustees at the
Rockefeller Foundation.
“It’s an honor to have been
asked to join The Rockefeller
Foundation Board
of Trustees,” a
Rockefeller
Foundation press
release quoted Shah
as saying. “The
foundation’s history
of innovation and
risk-taking, have
been inspiring to
my career. I’m excit-
ed to join the board and make
my own contributions to foun-
dation’s remarkable legacy of
building fields, solving tough
problems, and improving the
lives of poor and vulnerable
people.”
At the USAID, the interna-
tional development arm of the
Department of State, Shah, led
a team of nearly 10,000 staff
across more than 70 countries.
As USAID administrator, Shah
rethought how the agency
could best deliver assistance in
order to solve the more press-
ing development challenges of
our time, elevating the role for
innovation, for private sector
partnerships, and shifting how
and where dollars were spent
with a focus on both building
capacity and stream-
lining processes.
Prior to USAID,
Shah served as
undersecretary of
Agriculture for
Research, Education
and Economics, and
was chief scientist at
the United States
Department of
Agriculture. He also joined the
Bill &Melinda Gates
Foundation in its earliest days,
and led efforts in global health,
agriculture, and financial serv-
ices. Amedical doctor by train-
ing, Shah also holds anMBA
from theWharton School of
Business at the University of
Pennsylvania.
Rajiv ShahNamed to
Rockefeller FoundationBoard
U.S. to Oppose Plea to Declare RSS a Terror Group
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