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December 2004 - January 2005


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Dispatches & Reports

Peace Mission to Israel: The Winds of Change
By Kailash Puri

It was a heart-to-heart rally in Jerusalem. Five hundered women arrived from Korea, Japan, USA, UK and Europe, all delegates, to participate in the Peace Mission Meeting held at Knesset Tower Hotel and in the Independence Park in Jerusalem.

We arrived in Israel late in the evening and registered ourselves for the conference. The next day was booked for sight-seeing. The hotel manager provided us with picnic lunches, fruit and drinks and we left in the coaches to see the temples, monuments, Jericho, which is the lowest place in the world and the Sea of Gallili which was very calm on that day. I meditated and felt nearer to Akal Purakh. A rare and fantastic feeling enveloped me. Having a dip in the Dead Sea was a great experience.

Between our tours and the conference, we had two days of Outreach for inviting Israeli and Palestinian people to the event. We met Sachiko Inaba from Japan, a young sociologist. He had been in the army (as all the young Israelis have to be –men for three years and women for two) and had refused to go to the occupied territories. He was keen to come to the rally. Those two days were a great experience of tasting the two different cultures and situations.
The Women’s Federation for World Peace International, gave all the delegates a small pamphlet containing the Declaration –Women’s Middle East Peace Initiative. It contained the following statement:

“We, the women of the world, representing 191 nations, bridging all religions, cultures, political, professional and civil society backgrounds, mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, call for PEACE in the Middle East and the world.

We, the Women of the World, as the guardians of the family, must become an essential part of the leadership of the peace process with the skills of mothers, nurturers and educators;

We, the Women of the World are convinced that hardened political views, untampered by a true mother’s nurturing and forgiving heart, leave no room for the urgently needed but fragile stirrings of peace, and determine to become exemplary women of deep, forgiving love, allowing those lives we touch – in our communites and in the world – to be exposed to heal by such love and compassion.
Commit to becoming peacemakers, because only through the selfless heart of women who deeply care for all children as their own will peace emerge in Middle East.

We urge all leaders in the region and the world to draw upon the strength of forgiveness and the talks of reconciliation – and work courageously with women and youth to resolve conflicts and build peace.

Now, therefore, we declare together on this 27th day of August, 2004, that all women are sisters and invite them to work together to build peaceful families, communities and nations, in the Middle East and the World.

It is nearly twenty years ago, when we participated in an International Conference in Cairo. One afternoon I heard a very moving story from Shareeya who had come with her parents for a holiday in Egypt. We were staying in the same hotel, Oberoi International. Shareeya was in the swimming pool when we started talking. I was shocked that in this peaceful time atrocities were a common thing in Israel. I told my husband that it was so unfair and simply dreadful for Palestinians to share their day-to-day living with the Israeli regime. Now after two decades I was told almost the same heart-rending stories. Barta was in tears, saying, “Oh, they don’t know what they are doing to us. My grandfather bought a plot of land, built a house and raised four sons. Now they have three large families living there and wanted to extend the house. They tried for many years to get the permission to build and after being refused at every attempt they decided to build anyway. A few days after the completion of the house thirty soldiers and a tank came and reduced our house to the ground.” Berta was in tears and so were all of us. “There is no one to listen to our grievances”, said Barta, her voice choking. We were all stunned.

We had a ‘Bridge of Peace’ ceremony for all the delegates. Palestinians, Israelis, American and British mingling with each other in pairs. I was matched with Linda, an American delegate. We exchanged flowers, garlanded each other, hugged and promised to keep peace and remain in touch with our new ‘sisters of peace’. We all sang in unison: Peace in our home; Peace in our street; peace in our nation and peace in our country.

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New BBC series helps match first-time buyers
THE PROBLEM
So many first-time buyers today are facing financial obstacles as they attempt to get a foot on the ladder in an increasingly difficult property market.
House prices in England and Wales have almost tripled over the last 10 years going from a modest average of 66,500 in 1995 to an intimidating 176,365 in June this year which is over 7 times the average national wage (24,741 gross).
Despite the recent slowdown in property prices Nationwide report that in the first 9 months of this year prices have risen 12.5% and they forecast that by the end of 2004 prices will have risen by a total of 15%.
The average age of a first-time buyer in 1995 was approximately 27 but has increased to over 30.
Not only are first time buyers getting older they are also becoming more scarce. In 2002 approximately 50% of buyers were first-time buyers, this year this dropped to less than one in three buyers (29%).
If fewer people join the bottom of the ladder, those already on it find it harder to move up and the market can become stagnant.

ONE SOLUTION
The new mortgages introduced to the market such Britannia’s Share to Buy scheme (www.sharetobuy.com) make it much easier for two, three or four people to buy together. They are a chance for first-time buyers to realise their dream and co-own their own home.
The new Britannia mortgage allows up to four young professionals to buy at a multiple of three times each of their salaries. Traditionally, lenders will only allow two salaries to be taken into account when four buyers are involved, but this mortgage takes all their salaries into consideration. Using the deal four young professionals, each on salaries of 24,000, could suddenly find themselves contemplating a property worth up to 320,000, more than the current average price in London (251,368).

THE SHOW
But it’s still an uphill struggle - house buying is an expensive business, especially when you add on the hidden extras of surveys, stamp duty and solicitor’s fees. So we are going to put our time and resources into helping cash strapped first-time buyers.
RDF Media, the producers of Wife Swap and Faking It, it are making a brand new property series for the BBC. We are looking for people who want to buy a property with a co-owner but haven’t yet found the perfect person. This is where we step in.
The show will select and match up suitable property partners. They will then go on ‘property dates’ to check their compatibility, before searching for their ideal property. Finally they will buy a property together, all under the watchful eye of our property expert.
We are currently looking for people to take part in the series. If you think this might interest you please email me on beatrice.barleon@rdfmedia.com or comebuywithme@rdfmedia.com or call me on 020 7013 4517.
- Beatrice and The Come Buy With Me team

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Biggest Ever NRI Meet in Dubai

More than four hundred Indians, Non-Resident Indians and Persons of Indian Origin world over attended the NRI Banquet on 27th September in Dubai, organized by the NRI Institute.
The iridescent blue waters of the Arabian Sea as seen from the lounge of the Hyatt Regency Ball Room, the glittering white and gold tables set with eye catching red and white floral centrepieces, the gleaming napery and silverware await the arrival of our esteemed guests…. then the flash bulbs go, the VVIPs arrive, and the show is on…the who’s who of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, USA and the UK are there, gathered in one room for a never before happening, “happening” this evening.

Trinetra Bajpai, head honcho of The Manso Group, welcomed the guests of the evening and Jagmohan Singh stressed the endeavour of the NRI Institute to highlight the role of the Gulf NRIs and the problems faced by them. B.R. Shetty, in his Key Note Address, expressed his thanks to the UAE President, H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Al Nahyan, stressed that it was the open and welcoming attitude of all the rulers of the Emirates that added to the upsurge of the Gulf Region as a viable, global economy player. Sardar Tarlochan Singh recommended the Gulf NRIs form a cohesive group to further investment in new sectors in India to provide opportunities for the jobless qualified technical and under 25s of India. Sheikh Mazen Khalifa Alahiq Al Nuaimi in his soft-spoken but hard-hitting speech traced the humble beginnings of early ties with India and how his quest for a technocrat ended with meeting Trinetra Bajpai. What was heartening was his comment that today his company takes away major chunks of business from the powerful western petroleum companies – a recognition of India’s technological grasp. He affirmed the Mideast was seeing the closing phase of the construction era and would soon offer openings for the white collar and IT-empowered workers a la USA and UK. Yusuff Ali M.A. also addressed.

Consul General Y.K. Sinha cautioned that for every high flying NRI, there were a dozen semi-skilled and unskilled laborers living abysmal lives to support families at home, where no openings exist for them. Surely, much needs to be done for this sector. He also spoke about the efforts of his office in increasing the non-oil trade quoting facts and figures, mentioning that many new areas for trade remained unexplored. H.E. Sudhir Vyas, India’s Ambassador stressed that the Gulf NRIs needed to come together as a tight knit group, focusing as one to benefit all, rather than pulling in different directions thereby presenting a disjointed image and front. Jasjit Jaaj very kindly summarized the proceedings and expressed appreciation for all the help and cooperation that the NRI Institute had received from the people of the Gulf. Star Achiever Awards were presented to Sheikh Mazen Khalifa Allahiq Al Nuaimi, NRI Members of Parliament: Madhu Goud Yskhi and Abdul Wahab P V; Yusuffali M A, B R Shetty, Trinetra Bajpai, Abdul Kader, J. R Gangramani, Dr & Prof. Dawood Al Azdi and Tony Jashanmal, Dr. Rami Ranger, President, NRI Institute UK Chapter presented a plaque to H.E. Sudhir Vyas.

The event was sponsered by Group 4 Falck, Bank of Baroda, Indian Airlines, Home Developers (India), Air India, ESC, Khaleej Times, Afro-Asian Insurance Service (UK & India), M & S House of Design (India), Sun Oil Ltd. (UK) and India Tourism.

Courtesy Niloufar Tekchand

NRI Institute News letter
After a week of Kerry-ya-Bush, the IT stocks are up, reacting to the Bush win and the burial of the Outsourcing Scare. Bobby Jindal has an impressive showing, India is shining and the warm winter sunshine invites you to visit India. The fruits of labour are sweet, and it is showing in the United Kingdom: of the integrated minorities, the Sikhs form the highest percentage amongst homeowners.

Vidya Chhabria heading the Jumbo Group, is listed in Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women in International Business. Certainly a role model to be looked up to, as this list concerns itself with women who exercise their writ in terms of decision making, not for merely holding stock. Quietly but surely, women heading renowned organizations in Apna Bharat are increasing, in itself an advocacy for gender equality, female literacy and higher education.

A welcome amendment in the citizenship laws of Saudi Arabia, entitling expats living in the country for ten or more years to apply for citizenship of the Kingdom, speaks volumes about the vision and judicious discernment of its rulers.

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