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NRI Wedding of the Year
It was the wedding of the year. Its theme...Royal India. New York hotelier and actor Vikram Chatwal tied the knot with Delhi based model Priya Sachdev in a ceremony that spanned seven days and three cities in February. The list of guests included Bill and Hillary Clinton, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, steel baron Lakshmi Mittal, supermodel Naomi Campbell, author Deepak Chopra, rapper P. Diddy, actor Harrison Ford amongst others. The celebrations started with a party organized by Queenie Dhondy in Mumbai, followed by parties at the 17th century floating palace in a lake in Udaipur, to the finale in Delhi. The couple took traditional vows both at a hindu ceremony and in Sikh traditional style.

Vikram Chatwal is the son of Sant Singh Chatwal, an Indian American, whose family runs the Bombay Palace chain of restaurants in the U.S. and the Hampshire Hotels chain in New York City. Sant Chatwal started out in New York with a small take-out restaurant before expanding into hotels and other businesses. He was reportedly a major contributor to Rodham Clinton's Senate campaign, and is an old friend of the Clintons'. 

Chandra for Ohio Attorney General
Subodh Chandra, an Indian American attorney will be contesting Democratic primaries in the battle for Ohio's attorney general. The primaries are to be held May 2 in this swing state that played a last-minute role in catapulting President George W. Bush to victory in his second term for office in 2004, defeating Democrat John Kerry, says an IANS report.

"I am a former federal prosecutor who cleaned up corruption in the health-care industry. As Cleveland Law Director and Prosecuting Attorney, I helped clean up corrupt schemes at City Hall. I will end the culture of corruption and cronyism in state government--and then marshal the office to fight for Ohioans," says a statement attributed to him on his web site. 

As detailed in his campaign’s financial filings with the Ohio Secretary of State, Chandra has raised $304,272.11 in total contributions through January 30, 2006.

Employee Sues TCS Over Tax Refunds
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP announced that Gopi Vedachalam, an employee of Tata America International Corporation, filed today a nationwide class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco against Tata America 
International Corporation, and its parent corporations Tata Consultancy Services, Ltd., and Tata Sons, Ltd. (collectively referred to as “Tata”). 
Among other allegations, the suit charges that Tata has unjustly enriched itself by requiring all of its non-U.S.-citizen employees to endorse and sign over their federal and state tax refund checks to Tata. 

Tata is one of India's largest business conglomerates, with revenues last fiscal year in excess of $17 billion. The proposed class consists of thousands of current non-U.S. citizen employees of Tata working in the United States, plus former Tata employees dating back to 2000. 

“Tata’s employees from India and other countries working legally in the United States, including thousands of technical support personnel and project managers, work hard to see that the American corporations they support and Tata are profitable,” stated Lieff Cabraser partner Steven M. Tindall. “These workers are entitled to any amount of taxes they overpaid federal and state tax agencies.” 
Tindall noted that this case constitutes one of the first class action lawsuits against a company engaged in “reverse outsourcing,” bringing non-U.S. citizens to the United States to work in U.S. corporations, for violation of labor laws. 

The complaint charges that most Tata employees in the United States are non-U.S. citizens. These employees are granted visas, which allow them to work and live in the United States. Tata requires each employee to sign an agreement which states that the employee’s gross amount of compensation will be includable as earnings in the United States and reported to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The complaint alleges that  these employees are not paid the amount promised them in these agreements. 

The complaint alleges further that, at least until July 2005, Tata required its non-U.S.-citizen employees to sign power of attorney agreements delegating an outside agency to calculate and submit each employee’s tax return to state and federal authorities. Tata then required its non-U.S.-citizen employees who received tax refunds from state and federal tax authorities to endorse the tax refund checks and send them back to Tata. 

From 2000 to 2003, Gopi Vedachalam worked in Hayward, California, as a Tata project manager assigned to Target. Since 2003, he has worked as a Tata project manager for 21st Century Insurance in Woodland Hills, California. “I work hard for Tata and the companies I have been assigned to. I should receive the full wages Tata agreed to pay me, as should all other Tata employees in America. I did not hand over my tax refund checks voluntarily. I tried to recover these wages through Tata’s internal procedures, but I was met with either silence or refusal.” 
Mr. Vedachalam is asking the federal court to certify the case as a class action and issue an injunction against Tata, preventing it from requiring its employees to endorse their tax refund checks to the company to the extent it is still doing so. The complaint also seeks compensation and damages for current and former employees who were not paid what they were promised and who were deprived of their tax refunds. 

Alina Das & Sunita Patel Named Justice Fellows
Alina Das and Sunita Patel, both New York based attorneys have been named the 2006 Open Society Institute Soros Justice Fellows for their work in improving living conditions of immigrants. 

Alina is an attorney with the New York State Defenders Association's Immigrant Defense Project in New York. She has been given the award to develop reentry programs for immigrants facing criminal charges and convictions, and to work with community organizations and the courts to provide support to immigrants involved in the criminal justice system.

Sunita Patel, an attorney with Legal Aid Society, has been given a grant to develop a model for greater transparency and public accountability for detention operations in New Jersey jails.

A total of $1,040,000 in awards for 2006 will support 17 fellows in 10 states and the District of Columbia. Soros Justice Fellows conduct one-and two-year projects and receive stipends that range between $45,000 and $76,000.

February 1, 2006 Newsmakers 

Valayar Ravi is Overseas Indian Affairs Head
Vayalar Ravi, a veteran Congress party leader from Kerala and a Rajya Sabha member, recently took charge as the head of the ministry of overseas Indian affairs. He replaces Oscar Fernandes. He was given charge of the portfolio as a cabinet minister.

Ravi, 68, started his political career as founder president of the party's students' wing in the Kerala Students Union in the early 1960s.He went on to become one of the youngest members of the Congress party's powerful working committee in the 1970s.

Indian American in $1.4 Billion Sex Discrimination Lawsuit
Six female employees at the Wall Street bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein Securities LLC, including Indian American Jyoti Ruta, are trying to break the proverbial glass ceiling with a $1.4 billion sex discrimination lawsuit. 

Thirty-five year old Ruta, mother of a 3-year-old, and pregnant with her second 
child, said she felt more and more marginalized at work. "I kept thinking: 'Well, if I just work harder, it will get better.' But it didn't. Then one day I came home from work and looked into my daughter's eyes and thought, 'I don't want this to ever happen to you,'" she said

In their lawsuit, the women said they were subjected to "Animal House"-like 
antics, passed over for promotions, and generally treated as second-class citizens at the firm. Some said they were excluded from outings with clients because their male colleagues took them to strip clubs. Others said their supervisors saw prostitutes during lunch hours. Now, they say they're coming forward in hopes of paving a new way for their daughters and the next generation of women climbing the corporate ladder. 

The $1.4 billion they seek represents the money they say they lost in wages, 
promotions and raises not awarded, and punitive damages. The sum will also cover the damages other women may seek if the suit is approved as a class action. 

Indian scientist named ‘Inventor of the Year’ 
R. Bharat Rao, an Indian-American scientist is among 12 to receive the 'Inventor of the Year’ award for his pioneering work in developing a new system which utilizes data to improve patient care and clinical decisions. 

Rao is a senior director of Engineering Research Development, Computer-aided Diagnosis and Therapy Group at Siemens Medical Solutions. Based out of Malvern, Pennsylvania, Rao was chosen from Siemens’ 57,000 research and development employees worldwide for his pioneering work in developing an automated data collection and analysis tool, REMIND (Reliable Extraction and Meaningful Inference from Nonstructured Data). This enables care givers to utilize disparate healthcare information to personalize patient care plans and enhance patient outcomes. 

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