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Entertainment News

India’s largest lit fest ends on a high

The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival, advertised as the world’s largest free literary festival, attracted 2,45,000 footfalls over the five days ending 25 January – the highest ever in the festival’s eight-year history. The over-crowded festival compromised the quality of experience for many visitors who had to either share crowded standing space, or be disappointed as gates were closed for certain popular sessions.

This was no surprise as the festival saw a doubling of international visitors from 50 countries, according to an official statement, and a 40% increase in students attending the festival held at Diggi Palace in Jaipur.

While more than 300 authors (up from 240 in 2014), and 140 musicians participated, only a few authors dominated audience’s attention, while many struggled to attract enough numbers to their sessions. The crowds struggled to secure space even as 209 sessions were spread across 10 venues, including two new locations Amer Fort and Hawa Mahal. The festival also took some authors to schools in Jaipur, with 50 sessions taking place over two weeks.

– Electric sessions with Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam and Sir. V.S. Naipaul rocked the festival on the fourth day

– 40% increase in students visiting the Festival, with average age of visitor being 21 years old
– Dates for next year announced as 21-25 January 2016
– Festival set to travel to London, UK and Boulder, USA later this year

The sessions that attracted the most cheer and crowd were by Nobel laureate Sir V.S.Naipaul, and by former President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. The two speakers drew the biggest audience at the Rajnigandha Front Lawns with 5,000 excited book-lovers per event. Another sweet-heart of the crowd was legenday Bollywood actor Waheeda Rehman who launched her book Conversations With Waheeda Rehman, written by Nasreen Munni Kabir.

Similar crowds were also attracted by Bollywood actor Sonam Kapoor who was in Jaipur to launch film critic Anupama Chopra’s new book: The Front Row: Conversations on Cinema.

Anupama Chopra and Sonam Kapoor

Other highlights over the five days included Man Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton, renowned travel writer Paul Theroux, Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi as well as leading novelists Sarah Waters, Kamila Shamsie, Amit Chaudhuri and Eimear McBride.

This year the Festival awarded three prizes, including the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, which was won by Jhumpa Lahiri, the Ojas Art Award which was presented to Bhajju Shyam and Venkat Raman Singh Shyam, as well as the Khushwant Singh Memorial Prize for Poetry which was awarded to poet Arundhathi Subramaniam for her work When God is a Traveller.

However, the highlight of the festival was its programme that brought together a plurality of speakers from across the political, social, religious, artistic, and national divide, to create a cultural forum for discussion.

The festival also championed freedom of creative expression with daily drawings from DNA newspaper’s Chief Cartoonist, Manjul – prompting discussion and debate over the rights and responsibility of writers and artists in the current climate.

The concluding debate of the festival was titled “Culture is the New Politics” featuring Suhel Seth, Rajiv Malhotra, Arshia Sattar and Shazia Ilmi. The audience were also polled on the debate during the event, with 55.7% agreeing that culture is the new politics.

Encouraged by this year’s success, the organizers have decided to add two further editions of JLF across the world: first at the Southbank Centre in London this May, and then a third JLF festival in Boulder, Colorado, US in the autumn. The international outposts of the JLF festivals will be produced by Teamwork Arts, in addition to the 21 other festivals they produce in 11 different countries each year.

“Another year over and the next one just begun,” says Namita Gokhale, author and co-Director of the festival. “My head is already teaming with ideas, themes, concepts for next year. 2016 will be our best yet!”

Not wishing to rest, William Dalrymple, author and co-Director of the festival, is looking forward to the next year. “We already have Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan, Noam Chomsky, A L Kennedy and Thomas Piketty confirmed for next year.”

Sanjoy Roy, Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, Producer of the Festival, said, “We have seen a record footfall across the five days.”

News

Have heart, will donate: football club shows way for organ donation

rp_75210673_fanscard.jpg

While Brazil gets ready to host the biggest sporting event in the world – FIFA 2014, one the country’s biggest football clubs is in news for a different reason.

Sport Club Recife, one of the top teams in the north-east of Brazil, has channelized Brazilians’ love for football to a cause that’s of high relevance in the country.

The club asked its fans to become “immortal fans” by donating their organs upon their death.

They conveyed the message through a video that was shown to the fans at every match at the club’s Ilha do Retiro stadium.

The video shows an organ recipient say: “I promise that your eyes will keep on watching Sport Club Recife.”

Within two years, the club managed to sign up 66,000 fans as organ donors.

The waiting list for organ donors has been reduced to zero in Recife, and the neighboring regions have also benefited positively from the initiative.

Pernambuco’s Institute of Integrated Medicine, which used to perform from five to seven heart transplants a year, ended up performing 28 transplants last year, Fernando Figueira, director of the institute told BBC.

But it is not just sufficient to get fans to sign up as organ donors. It is important to get them to let their relatives know. As per local laws in Brazil, it is the family members that can decide about organ donation after the person’s death.

Efforts are being made to ensure that donors are creating awareness among family members.

The success of the scheme has attracted other clubs around the world, including Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona, to replicate the scheme.

 

 

Entertainment News Travel

Top Must-Have Android Apps for Indians

Indians around the world use many Android apps either to stay in touch with what’s happening in India, or to take care of personal matters like banking, messaging, phone calls and so on.

The Global Indian profiles some of these best Android apps for Indians living abroad.

Music

Saavn: This is by far the most popular and most entertaining music app for both Android and iOS. The music is free and includes not just latest Bollywood music, but also provides access to a collection of Indian regional, and even English music. The most popular feature is the staff-curated playlists for various genres.
From the newest songs to hard-to-find classics, Saavn’s catalog provides songs in Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi, Marathi, Bengali, Kannada, Gujarati, Malayalam, and Bhojpuri.

Download

Travel

MakeMyTrip: Planning to book tickets for domestic travel by air or train? Use MakeMy trip app to compare fares and timings of trains and flights. It even offers options to book hotels, but you would be better off contacting hotels directly for bookings.

Download

iXigo Trains: While Indian Railways‘ official IRCTC website is notorious for slow speed and downtime, this iXigo web app works much better. While this is not the official IRCTC app, it helps you find train tickets, find PNR status, and get accurate train running information. There are no ads in the app.  It even lets you find budget hotels in most Indian cities, classify them by area, get the best hotel deals and call hotels for free and book online! The makers of this app have even gone a step further – the app can scans your SMS for PNRs and provide PNR status change updates and delay notifications.

Download

AskLaila: If you are looking phone numbers and addresses of local businesses, you can download AskLaila app for Android phones.

Download

Culture

Indian festivals and holidays: Planning a visit to India and not too sure when the holidays and festivals are? Use this app for  a list of all the major Indian festivals and holidays.

Features:
1. Instantly know which holidays fall on which dates.
2. Short 4 line description of each holiday.
3. Link to Wikipedia article for the selected holiday for further reading

Download

Salah Timings: This Android app provides Islamic prayer timings (Salat), and shows you the direction to Mecca from anywhere in the world. For devout Muslims, it’s a handy tool for religious observance.

Download

Shopping

Now NRIs can send gifts to India with a click of a button, thanks to many mobile apps developed by leading online shopping sites like Flipkart, Amazon and eBay. With growing competition among these online shopping sites, the prices are highly competitive. Some of these apps also show bargains and special offers.

Flipkart: Flipkart is by far the most popular shopping website for India and offers a range of products from apparel to books, kitchen appliances and much more.
Download

Amazon: Now shop on Amazon.in via Amazon global shopping application

Download

eBay: eBay is not yet big in India but in case you like something on eBay, you can use this app which provides listings on eBay.in too.

Download

Snapdeal: Snapdeal is not as big as leading shopping portals, but offers good customer experience and a range of products. Use this official app to shop on Snapdeal.

Download

Sports

Indians’ love for cricket is legendary. It is no wonder that some of the cricket apps for Android are very popular among Indians. However, football and other games are also gaining popularity with Indian audience. Here’s our round-up of popular sport apps for Android.

Sports schedules including FIFA World Cup: The month-long 2014 FIFA World Cup action begins on 12 June. Catch every match with this football app for the 2014 Football World Cup – get game results on-the-go!

This app provides mobile guide to match schedules, standings, and venues. As the competition unfolds, the round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final match-ups will be revealed.

Download

CricketNext Live: This is a very popular Android app for live cricket score and other updates.

Download

Cricbuzz: Crickbuzz offers scores of popular cricket matches.

Download

ESPNCricInfo: With comprehensive access to popular cricket matches, ESPNCricInfo has put some of the best information about cricket into this official mobile app.

Download

News

Stay in touch with the latest news about India and Indians with some of the best mobile apps developed my Indian news media.

NDTV: You can watch news videos and live news updates from NDTV on this Android mobile app.
Download

IBNLive for Android: This mobile app for CNN-IBN offers live news from one of the popular news channels from India.

Download

MSN India News: For some unbiased news about India, tune in to MSN India news which is owned by Yahoo!
Download

Times of India: Official Android application of the popular Indian daily.
Download

Banking and finance

Many NRIs have accounts in India and would find it easier to keep track of their banking transactions with an Android app. Many of these apps let you complete netbanking transactions like paying utility bills, paying a relative in India, renew fixed deposits and request account statements.

You can also download applications for monitoring your stock market investments.

iMobile: Transact with your ICICI Bank account with this mobile app for Android users.
Download

State Bank Freedom: Whether you have your PF with State Bank or your fixed deposits, you can access your details with this official mobile app for State Bank of India customers.

Download

Citibank: Many customers of Citibank have accounts in India. You can access your account with this application developed by Citibank.

Download

Standard Chartered Bank: This app lets you complete Netbanking transactions in your StanChart account with the click of a button.

Download

ICICI Stock Watch: Use this app to get updates on various equity stocks trading on leading Indain exchanges including BSE and NSE.

Download

Moneycontrol Markets: This Adroid application provides updates on not just Indian but also global equities markets in real-time. A must-have app for serious stock investors.

Download

Did we miss any app? Please suggest your favorite Android app in the comments below.

Lifestyle News

Can my dog, cat migrate to NZ from India?

DogFood

 You are not allowed to import a dog or cat directly from India into New Zealand or Australia. Find out a way to get around this restriction.

DogFood

R. Swaminathan received permanent resident visa for New Zealand. As he packed his bags in Bangalore, and prepared to wind down his set up, he began to enquire about formalities to complete for taking his golden retriever to Auckland.

To his shock, he was told that he was not allowed to bring his dog to New Zealand.

India is one of the countries where rabies is not well-controlled, and as such, does not feature in the list of countries approved for exporting dogs or even cats to New Zealand.

The only option available to Swaminathan was to send his dog to one of the approved countries for a 180-day quarantine, before the dog could re-unite with the owner in New Zealand. Even then, his retriever would need to stay in a month-long quarantine in New Zealand.

New Zealand is free from rabies, heart-worm and most ticks, and takes steps to preserve it. New Zealand pet import requirements are therefore strict.

New Zealand has categorized countries for the purpose of importing dogs and cats:

  • Category 1: Australia. Your dog or cat doesn’t need a permit to import, neither does it need post-arrival quarantine. The only check needed is a post-arrival inspection.
  • Category 2: Rabies-free countries, which are: Singapore, Bahrain, Fiji, Mauritius, Hawaii, Japan, Iceland, Barbados, Falkland Islands, French Polynesia, and New Caledonia. The dog or cat would need a permit, a post-arrival quarantine of at least 10 days, and a post-arrival check.
  • Category 3: Pacific Island nations. Requirements are same as category 2, which means pets from Pacific Island countries will need to go through a post-arrival inspection and quarantine, and need a permit too.
  • Category 4: Where rabies is absent or well-controlled. This list includes countries like the US, Malaysia, Canada, Hong Kong, France, UK and a host of other countries. The requirements are the same as category 2.
  • Category 5: All other countries.

For those from India or any other country not specified above, a direct import of dog or cat is not permitted.

The only solution is to take your pet to one of the countries listed in any of the above categories, where the pet is quarantined for six months.

After that, the pet-owner would need to obtain a veterinary certificate before importing the pet into New Zealand, where it would be put through a further quarantine for a month.

The pet will need to be micro-chipped before it is vaccinated at the country of origin, because the chips will need to contain a record of vaccination. The importer will also need to give at least 72 hours’ notice to the quarantine department in New Zealand before the arrival of the pet.

Even if you are from one of the listed countries, there are many formalities to be completed before transport, and on arrival. It is advisable to hire a professional animal exporter and transporter.

Can I carry my pet’s bedding?

Yes, bedding is allowed to be imported, as long as it is not made of hay or straw.

How much does it cost to import a dog or cat?

All expenses associated with transport, vaccination, permit, quarantine and other formalities are to be borne by the importer. Besides, there may be bio-security and customs charges to be paid. Import permit application fees is NZ$166.67.

How long does it take to import a dog or cat?

There’s a strict time-table to be followed for vaccination and vet-checks. Please refer to the ministry guide for importing dogs and cats for details.

Which other pets can be imported to New Zealand?

Apart from dogs and cats, the following pets can be imported to New Zealand: chinchillas, fish, horses and rabbits.

Which pets are not permitted to be imported to New Zealand?

If you have any of the following as your pets, you are in tough luck. These pets are not allowed from any country: guinea pigs, birds of any kind, mice and rats, snakes and any reptiles.

Can I take my dog or cat with me in the cabin?

Unfortunately, dogs and cats can not be imported by carrying them with you in the cabin. They must travel as cargo. The only exception being an assistance dog which may travel in the cabin.

If you have any questions about bringing your dog or cat to New Zealand, read these FAQs about importing pets to New Zealand.

For any queries, contact the ministry of primary industries of the New Zealand government.

Lifestyle News

Jihad threat: Auckland mosque shut down

Mosques in Auckland

In a fallout between two Muslim factions, a mosque in Auckland is closed for prayers until further notice.

Mosques in Auckland

Avondale mosque in Auckland has been shut down indefinitely. (Photo credit: Mohummid Jaesyn Abu Whiore)

In an unusual sight for a religious place in New Zealand, the Avondale mosque is surrounded by temporary fence, private security guards and police staff.

The mosque in Blockhouse Bay has been part of a reported battle between two Muslim groups for control over the mosque.

Things turned ugly when Haider Lone, immediate past president of the NZ Muslim Association and administrator of the Avondale Islamic Centre, was attacked earlier this month and is in hospital in serious condition.

Haider says he fears for his life as he believes the attack was an assassination attempt, the New Zealand Herald reported.

The Association, which owns the mosque, has shut it down because of safety concerns.

Avondale Mosque

Notice of shut down. (Photo credit: Rakai Pirika via Facebook)

One of the New Zealand reporters who was covering the mosque story has also received derogatory comments on social media.

Caught amid the cross fire, there’s been a declaration of jihad, or holy war, against private security staff hired to guard the premises, according to a media report.

Bill Frost, who manages the private security of the mosque, was assaulted twice on Sunday and said he feared for his life and the safety of his family after one person threatened him with jihad.

The dispute began soon after Sheikh Abu Abdulla, 50, the mosque’s imam, was banned from entering the centre for two years for allegedly teaching extreme Islam, says another media report.

His two sons, Abdulla Hamam, 22, and Abdelrahman Hamam, 16, were also banned for the next two years. The ban applies to all mosques in Auckland run by the Association. When the father and sons tried to enter the mosque, they were issued trespass notices.

Abdulla Hamam says his father was “just a normal person” but was being targeted by some leaders from the association who were “bullies”.

“I did nothing so it’s just totally unfair to ban us,” he says.

Javed Khan, the Acting President of the Federation of Islamic Association, told a television channel the community is shocked.

“It is very concerning, we don’t want these kind of things happening in our own religious institutions. We live in a country, in New Zealand, which has got law and order.”

 

Immigration News Work Abroad

Moving to Australia? See how your living exp will be affected

Expenses in Australia can catch new migrants completely off guard. This guide provides useful tips to consider before moving to Australia.

AustraliaAsylumSidney

Many career professionals jump on the bandwagon of moving to Australia without putting pen to paper and consider living expenses in the new land.

Those considering moving to Australia should keep in mind the salary levels and their relation to monthly household expenses. This is even more crucial for those moving with young kids, as medical expenses can take away a big chunk of take home salary.

With taxes going up in Australia, the disposable income of many Australians is adversely impacted.

The main factors to consider before moving to Australia – average salary, household expenses, transportation expenses, education, and most importantly, medical expenses.

Average salaries in Australia (in AUD)

  • Operations manager $80,000
  • Accountant $55,000
  • Graphic designer $48,000
  • General manager $97,000
  • Office manager $55,000
  • Retail store manager $46,000

(source: Payscale.com)

Average house rent in Australia

The rental prices vary dramatically across Australia, as the following figures show. These figures are as of January 2012, and with changing economic scenario, it may work out cheaper to have a mortgage than to rent in 2014, in some parts of Australia like Canberra. (Source: Workin In Australia)

  • Darwin $550
  • Sydney $500
  • Canberra $500
  • Perth $400
  • Brisbane $380
  • Melbourne $360
  • Adelaide $340
  • Hobart $320

Average house prices in Australia

Again, these are June 2012 figures, but provide a good indication on house prices throughout the country. In some cities in Australia, you may find owning a home cheaper than renting one.

  • Sydney $555,000
  • Canberra $495,000
  • Melbourne $490,000
  • Darwin$472,000
  • Perth $460,000
  • Brisbane $415,000
  • Adelaide $370,000
  • Hobart $350,000

Medical expenses in Australia

This one expense is often under-estimated by new migrants. After all, who would imagine falling sick? However, cost of healthcare is very high in Australia, and if you are not a citizen, permanent resident, or hold a certain visa, you will not be eligible for Medicare, and will have to pay medical bills.

  • Visit to GP – $70 of which roughly half is paid by Medicare
  • Visit to a specialist – $155, of which Medicare will pay $69
  • Visit to dentist for one filling – $175 of which Health fund reimburses $98

Health fund is private insurance, independent of Medicare.

 

Loans Property

Will LVR home loan restrictions go by Christmas?

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s indication that the loan restrictions (LVR) imposed last year will be eased toward s the end of 201 has come as a relief for many first-home buyers as well as home sellers.Buy House auckland new zealand

This is welcome news for provincial New Zealand, where the restrictions
have had a significant impact on an already weak market, says Hayden Duncan
Chief Executive Officer of Harcourts New Zealand, one of the leading real estate agents.

“In the Central, Wellington and South Island Provincial regions average sale prices remain in the $300,000s and have done so for a number of years. LVR restrictions were not needed here and have prevented first home buyers achieving the dream of home ownership.”

“In Auckland and Christchurch the overheated markets are the result of
simple low supply and high demand.”  Hayden suggests fast tracked
and quality construction in these two cities as the best way to sensibly
moderate rising costs.

The restrictions will go at the right time as New Zealand expects net migration to grow in the next 12 to 18 months.

“The divergence in the annual budgets with spending slashed in Australia and tax rates rising, versus scope for tax cuts here in New Zealand down the track will reinforce the massive switch in Trans-Tasman migration flows underway,” says Tony Alexander, chief economist of Bank of New Zealand.

“Before the end of this year it is likely that for the first time since 1991 there will be a net gain to our population from Trans-Tasman flows.”

However, the reserve bank governor’s comments come with caveat. “Before removing them (LVR), we want to be confident that the housing market is responding to interest rate increases; and that immigration pressures are not causing a resurgence of house price pressures. It will take some time to gain this assurance. At this stage we consider the earliest date for beginning to remove LVRs is likely to be late in the year.”

That’s a tall order, and the removal of LVR remains a speculation at this stage, and Tony Alexander believes that it is unlikely that the LVR restrictions will be relaxed by the end of the year.

“The rules are doing the job of about 0.25% – 0.5% worth of official cash rate rises. Were the rules to be removed then the OCR would need to be that amount higher than would otherwise be the case.

“Given that rising interest rates lift the Kiwi dollar and that this is something the RB would like to avoid, one condition which would have to be met is a falling NZD. Is that likely?”

The Reserve Bank had introduced the loan-to-value ratio (LVR) restrictions in October 2013 to help lower house prices, and avoid the risk of a housing bubble building up.

New Zealand banks were given a six-month window to comply with the new speed limits restricting new high-LVR lending at no more than 10 per cent of their total lending.

A high-LVR loan is where the loan is more than 80 per cent of the value of the property.

However, banks over-estimated their LVR lending and applied stronger breaks resulting in high-LVR loans falling to 6%, much below the apex bank’s 10% target.

The high-LVR loans were as high as 25% in September 2013, just before the restrictions were applied.

Immigration News

2 Pakistani women murdered in Auckland

In what could possibly be a case of domestic violence, two women of Pakistan origin were found dead in a house in West Auckland, New Zealand.

Police arrested a 52-year old man from the same house who is believed to have phoned the police and informed them about the double murder of the pair – possibly mother and daughter. The police have not yet confirmed whether the man is a suspect in the incident.

Detective Inspector Greg Cramer told the Stuff website the Police weren’t looking for anybody else in relation to the murder of Pakistani women, one aged in her 40s and the other in her 20s.

Police believed the three to be related, “but until formal identification has taken place we can’t say”. A autopsy would take place tomorrow morning.

Some of the neighbors told media the family was very peaceful and they rarely heard any fights.

 

Business Lifestyle News

Property market bullish after Modi win

Property investment India

Property prices are likely to surge following Modi-led BJP’s re-sounding victory in India’s general elections.

 

The prospects of a stable government at the centre have given rise to improved outlook for the real estate sector in India.

Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party swept away the 2014 general elections with a thumping majority.  Markets reacted almost immediately, with Sensex jumping by 2000 points during the early morning trading on 17 May – the day election results were declared.

The real estate sector of the country has welcomed the results of a majority-led government which comes into power almost after two decades of various coalition governments.

The global economic recession, and uncertainty of unstable government, had crippled India’s real estate sector for rental as well as sale of property.

Property prices reduced by as much as 8% in the country’s capital region – Delhi-NCR – during 2013, compared 2012, reported property website 99acres.com.

Even average rentals for 3BHK flats reduced by 6% cent during the fourth quarter of 2013 against the previous quarter. Rentals have fallen by 7% during 2013.

However, the real estate industry has high hopes from the new prime minister, and expects  better legislation to improve the sector.

Buy house India

Kamal Batra, chairman, Buniyaad Real Estate

“There were a few bills that were standing on the verge of a decision which now will definitely form and parallel we will see new laws been formed that will allow a smoother flow of work in the sector at all levels,” says Kamal Batra, chairman of Buniyaad, one of the leading property brokers in India.

“The election period had paused the market for a bit for the investors; which now will change significantly. The end user market on the other hand will keep on flourishing as the demand increases and interest rates drop.”

The property market would also like to see regulations being streamlined for the construction industry.

Pankaj Kumar Jain, director, K World Group

“In particular, NCR’s real estate market will benefit from fast-tracked approvals for new projects, which will increase supply and in turn keep the city’s property rates rational,” says Pankaj Kumar Jain, Director, K World Group.

Housing affordability and social housing will be the focus for the new government. “The BJP is in now in a position to boost affordable and mid-income housing projects, which would have positive ramifications for a city like Ghaziabad and NCR,” says Pankaj.

However, Kushagr Ansal of Ansal Housing doesn’t expect any change in the market for property buyers. “The market for end user was neither affected earlier nor will it get affected now. It is just that the demand will increase at a macro level.”

Many builders continue to be extremely bullish about the real estate market in India, and buying property in India is likely to get more expensive. “Real estate sector has grown despite the gloomy economy situation and projected to grow exponentially,” says  Suninder Sandha, Director, Horizon Concepts.

“Indian residential real estate price is poised to grow at a 10-12% over next year. There is a paradigm shift towards commercial sector too and with more bank loans available at a good rate coupled with leasing options the demand among investors has gone sky high.”

However, no government has a magic wand which can solve all problems at once, says Anuj Puri of JLL India.

“Reforming the economy is a gradual process, and we need to be patient. A stable government at the centre has potential to boost the sentiments and in return, attract foreign money.

“However, we cannot expect property prices to display the kind of sharp upward movement that were achieved before the Global Financial Crisis. Any such movement – or reduction in cap rate – is, as we believe, at least 12-18 months away.”

News

Auckland appoints ethnic panel

Auckland’s community-based ethnic peoples panel has colours of different ethnicities as the new appointments by Auckland Council reveal.

The panel is designed to provide the council with “big picture” intelligence on issues important to diverse groups, and advise on effective engagement, says a statement by Auckland Council.

The council received many applications and the final selection was based on the criteria of having good knowledge of their communities, experience with governance and advisory roles, and an understanding of council’s future direction.

“It was a robust process,” says Grant Taylor, Auckland Council governance director. “We were greatly appreciative of the motivation and enthusiasm of all candidates.”

The ethnic panel will meet once a month and will work closely with the liaison councillor – Councillor Denise Krum (Ethnic Peoples), untill their term expires before the local government elections in 2016.

The Ethnic Peoples Panel for Auckland

  • Feroz Ali (interim chair), managing director, New Zealand Career College
  • Carlos Abdelrahman, community engagement coordinator, NZ Aids Foundation
  • Asoka Basnayake, senior advisor, Tertiary Education Commission, Manukau
  • Naoe Hashimoto, executive assistant, efu Investment Limited
  • Anita Keestra, lecturer/business trainer
  • Yee Yang ‘Square’ Lee, company director, WhySquare Limited
  • Angela Lim, medical student, deputy chair Manukau Counties DHB Community Panel
  • Kafeba Mundele, chair of the New Zealand National Refugee Network
  • Dave Tomu, sales consultant
  • Liu Shueng Wong, director, Intercultural Works Limited
  • Christian Dee Yao, research and teaching fellow, Massey University
Immigration News

Canada celebrates Asian Heritage Month

 

migrate to Canada

Baljit Sethi has made significant contributions to racial harmony in Canada.

When Baljit Sethi left India for a better life in Canada in 1972, the term ‘multiculturalism’ wasn’t mainstream.

Finding her feet in a foreign land wasn’t easy. Not only faced with a language barrier, but also cultural limitations, Baljit decided to help other immigrants, and find herself in the process.

Baljit understood that newcomers could not become part of their new communities without multicultural programs and the active promotion of racial harmony.

She founded the Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society of Prince George, which provides settlement services to communities in Northern British Columbia.  She worked to encourage interaction between immigrants and the population of Prince George, the benefit of which was felt across northern British Columbia.

Her tireless work over 40 years had given Canada the programs that continue to be used across the country to promote multiculturalism and equality.

A strong advocate for immigrant women, her contributions have been recognized with the Order of British Columbia award.

She is one the many Asians that have shaped the history of Asians in Canada. To commemorate Asians’ contribution, Canada is celebrating Asian Heritage Month throughout the country.

Canadians get an opportunity to understand and celebrate the contributions of Canadians of Asian heritage.

The concept is not new to North America. Asian Heritage Month has been celebrated in the United States since 1979.

In the last few years, Asians in Canada have started to celebrate their culture in May every year.

It was in 2001 that Canada officially adopted the motion proposed by Senator Vivienne Poy to designate May as Asian Heritage Month.

 

News Work Abroad

2 Indians charged in Canada for job fraud

Two Indians are among three people charged by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) for the unauthorized employment of foreign nationals.

Following a three-month investigation, the CBSA’s Criminal Investigation Division charged Brampton-based 31-year old Kumar Gautam and 29-year old Nancy Gautam of unauthorized employment of foreign nationals.

It is alleged that the accused employed a number of foreign nationals who were not authorized to work in Canada.

The individuals and companies charged are: Kumar Gautam, Nancy Gautam, Shane Burrows, Logan Moving & Storage Inc., Shane’s Moving & Storage Inc. and EBS Transport.

“The CBSA is committed to supporting the employment of those authorized to work here in Canada and ensuring that employers abide by our laws.” says Goran Vragovic, Regional Director General of CBSA, Greater Toronto Area Region.

News

NZ holds rally for abducted Nigerian girls

BringBackOurGirls
BringBackOurGirls

Michelle Obama supporting the campaign for the rescue of abducted Nigerian girls.

Christchurch and Wellington will hold rallies next week in support of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign that is gaining momentum worldwide.

Since the news broke of kidnapping of 276 Nigerian girls on 14 April, social media and international news outlets have rigorously campaigned for the return of the girls, making the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls trend worldwide.

On Wednesday, 14 May 2014, New Zealand supporters of the young school girls, abducted in north eastern Nigeria, will be holding rallies in Wellington and Christchurch to ask Prime Minister John Key to add his voice to the call for the safe return of these girls to their parents.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown will address the walkers at Civic Square at 12.10pm and Minister David Shearer will address the walkers when they arrive at Parliament, says Jumoke Giwa, one of the organisers, who works with Change A Life Nigeria.

Change-A-Life volunteers in Wellington and Christchurch are organising this rally in solidarity with the abducted girls and their families in Nigeria. “Our primary aim is to raise awareness about the plight of the abducted innocent girls and potentially get the Nigerian government to secure the release of these girls within the shortest time possible,” says Jumoke.

Funmi Iyanda, the founder of Change-A-Life Nigeria, has cancelled her  participation at the ongoing World Economic Forum in Abuja, Nigeria, as part of her stance to call for the safe return of these innocent girls.

“My immediate concern is rallying support and generating interest to pressure the government into rescuing those girls, reassuring Nigerians, supporting the families and fighting Boko Haram,” says Funmi.

ABOUT THE WALKS

Wellington: Walk from Civic Square to Parliament , 12 noon

Christchurch: Cathedral Square, 4pm

Business Money News Work Abroad

NZ job market strong

highly skilled jobs in Auckland

highly skilled jobs in Auckland

Good news for job hunters and those seeking a change of job. The number of job listings on the Trade Me Jobs site has increased by 21% year-on-year.

The website had 50,000 roles listed in the first quarter of 2014. The growth in jobs is in all major locations in New Zealand.

Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury are seeing positive growth, says Peter Osborne, head of Trade Me Jobs.

“With more roles being advertised, Kiwis hunting that dream job are looking well-placed to consider their next career move.

Trade Me analysis  is in line with similar report from Westpac McDermott Miller (PDF file) which found that employment confidence is at an all-time high since the recession.

“The New Zealand job market is looking very rosy.”

Highest salary jobs are in Auckland

The Auckland region remains the powerhouse of the national job market, said Mr Osborne. “The City of Sails saw a 20% boost in job listings when compared to the same period last year, with central Auckland and Manukau experiencing significant jumps in year-on-year growth.”

For the first time, average salary in Auckland is higher than Wellington. In fact, those working in central Auckland could expect the highest average pay of the country, taking home an average annual salary of $72,302. This was ahead of previous leader central Wellington ($70,234), and New Plymouth (61,143).

Canterbury job listings were up 24% on the same time last year, with Christchurch city’s available roles also ticking up 24%. “It’s been a long process, but the rebuilding efforts in the area are still the primary motivators for activity in the employment market,” says Peter.

Jobs in Auckland Jobs in New Zealand

IT guys highest paid in New Zealand

“The need for skilled IT workers is reflected in the sector’s dominance of average pay packets,” Mr Osborne said. “Four of the top five are filled by IT architects, IT sales, IT project managers and IT managers, all taking home an average pay packet between $128,000 and $134,000 a year.”

Sectors seeing increased listings this quarter when compared to the same period last year included IT sales (up 166%), journalism (up 156%) and retail department manager roles (up 131%).

Peter says there was plenty of opportunity for employers too with recent research commissioned by Trade Me Jobs finding that 45% of employees were willing to relocate for a new job. “Employers should be confident there are plenty of potential candidates willing to consider the right role even if they’re not on the doorstep.”

More than half of employees (62%) cited better pay as their primary motivation for considering moving to a new location, but other factors included being made redundant, career development and a desire to relocate. “With the surge in job listings, now is a good time for anyone contemplating that next great role to put their thinking into action.”

Peter says Wellington was recently revealed as the most desirable New Zealand destination to head to for a new job. “We saw 18% of respondents choose the capital, while the Bay of Plenty was next with 14% of the vote,” he said. “The job market in Wellington is in good shape for new arrivals, with a 26% tick up in advertised roles on a year ago.”

NZ jobs by sector

Surprise down south

“We saw a huge lift in advertised roles in Southland, with a 41% increase,” he said. “We saw good growth in agriculture, trades, and healthcare. Jobs out on the pasture aren’t in short supply either, with advertised roles for farming up 113%.”

The number of roles advertised in the Taranaki region also lifted significantly, up 16% on a year ago.

Mortgage forcing employees to look for greener pastures

“As mortgage rates rise, so too does the desire for a better pay check at the end of the week. With perceptions of job opportunities markedly improving, and recent signs that firms are looking to step up their hiring efforts, it’s becoming a job hunter’s market.

“High salaries in IT are great for people working in those sectors, but research has also shown they are among the least likely of professions to move roles. Combined with a real skills shortage, this can only mean that IT professionals will continue to dominate the high salaried roles in the foreseeable future and in contrast to many other sectors the industry will find it increasingly difficult to land good, experienced IT staff.”

Immigration Lifestyle News

Auckland withdraws divisive survey

Following strong reaction from Auckland’s diverse communities, Auckland Council has withdrawn two research surveys perceived as encouraging racism.

A survey by Auckland Council has evoked strong reaction from the communities.  (Photo: Philip Capper)

A survey by Auckland Council has evoked strong reaction from diverse communities. (Photo: Philip Capper)

The council had sent the surveys to 20,000 households in Northcote and Balmoral – two of Auckland’s most culturally diverse communities.

People were asked how they felt, from “very cold” to “very warm”,  towards ethnic groups including Pakeha, Chinese, Indian, Korean, and “other Asian” people, says a report in The Aucklander newspaper.

The surveys, which cost $18,000, asked locals to say if their interactions with the ethnic groups were favourable or unfavourable; whether immigrants contributed to the economy; and if it was a good idea to have Asian businesses grouped together.

Auckland is home to 150 ethnicities as per the last Census. Some neighbourhoods have significantly higher Asian population. Balmoral and Northcote are two such neighbourhoods. As many as 40% people in Mount Roskill are Asians. This number is 21% in Northcote. At a national level, New Zealand is predominantly an European country (74%), with Asians accounting for only 12% of the total population.

Defending the survey, the council says the intention of the surveys,  was to enable an understanding of how interactions between people from different ethnic and cultural groups in a commercial context, influence wider social cohesion.

While the council has withdrawn the survey, it believes that the research was necessary. “Research on Auckland’s ethnic diversity and how it relates to precincts and local economic development is an important part of making Auckland the world’s most liveable city, says Harvey Brookes, Acting Chief Planning Officer, for the council.

“However, despite the council’s research ethics approval processes, we understand that at least one question in this survey may have caused offence to some people.

“Although this question was based on similar questions asked in national and international research in this area, we acknowledge that the question could be perceived as legitimising discrimination.

“We will write to the recipients of the survey, asking them not to complete it and advise them that the council will not process any surveys which have been returned.”

The council will review the survey design and consider issuing a re-designed survey at a later date.

Auckland Council wants to understand these demographic changes across Auckland’s communities and neighbourhoods, and explore the social and economic effects and implications of those changes.

The main objective of this type of research is to support Auckland Council’s work in local economic and community development by exploring the effects of change in the Dominion Road area and in Northcote.

Lifestyle News

Aucklanders shying away from cars

New Auckland trains

New Auckland trains

New Zealand’s largest city – Auckland – is sending signals that show that the tide in turning against use of cars for commute.

According to the latest figures released by Auckland Transport,  Aucklanders took 7.3 million trips in public transport in March – an increase of 4% in the number of people using public transport compared to March last year.

The year to March also saw strong growth with just over 71 million trips.

Rail continues to be the star performing with more than 11 million trips in the year to March, up 14% on an annual basis.

The jump in rail numbers reflects the improved on-time performance, integrated ticketing and the renewed interest in rail with the introduction of the electric trains, says Auckland Transport Group Manager, Public Transport Mark Lambert.

“March saw a record number of people using Auckland’s train services.”

The first electric trains started yesterday on the Onehunga line.

The Northern Express bus service also had a record month in March, up 6% for the year.

Other bus services carried 52 million passengers in the year to March, an annual increase of 3%.

Meanwhile, there was an increase of 9% in cycling in March compared to March 2013. The morning peak saw a rise of 20%.

Business Immigration News Opinion

Hugh Pavletich: NZ’s bubble economy is vulnerable

australia mining jobs

(In this opinion piece, Hugh Pavletich of Performance Urban Planning (Christchurch, New Zealand) agrees with Jesse Colombo who argued in Forbes that New Zealand’s economic bubble with end in a disaster.)

The recent Forbes e-edition article by Jesse Colombo assesses the New Zealand economy “12 Reasons Why New Zealand’s Economic Bubble Will End In Disaster”, seems to have created quite a stir, creatingextensive media coverage in New Zealand.

The major Fairfax article by Michael Field “NZ bubble ‘going to burst’ “ stimulated a remarkable 500+ comments.

It didn’t take too long for the politicians to react, with Acting Finance Minister Steven Joyce downplaying it, unhelpfully personally attacking Mr Colombo, with Labours David Cunliffe and David Parker largely agreeing with Mr Colombo’s assessment.

Mr Colombo’s initial assessment (a comprehensive report is to follow) was from a financial experts perspective.

Let’s consider whether Mr Colombo is correct from a structural perspective.

January every year the Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey is released, with the 10th Annual Edition released 20 January this year.Normal (and therefore affordable) housing markets do not exceed 3.0 times gross annual household income (Median Multiple), requiring mortgage loads of about 2.5 times.

A clear structural definition of an affordable housing market is …

“For metropolitan areas to rate as ‘affordable’ and ensure that housing bubbles are not triggered, housing prices should not exceed three times gross annual household earnings. To allow this to occur, new starter housing of an acceptable quality to the purchasers, with associated commercial and industrial development, must be allowed to be provided on the urban fringes at 2.5 times the gross annual median household income of that urban market (refer Demographia Survey Schedules for guidance).”

“The critically important Development Ratios for this new fringe starter housing, should be 17 – 23% serviced lot / section cost – the balance the actual housing construction.”

“Ideally through a normal building cycle, the Median Multiple should move from a Floor Multiple of 2.3, through a Swing Multiple of 2.5 to a Ceiling Multiple of 2.7 – to ensure maximum stability and optimal medium and long term performance of the residential construction sector.”

Since the creation of the housing production industry by Bill and Alfred Levitt following World War 11 , when new starter suburban housing was put in place for about $US100 per square metre all up (serviced section and house construction … 80 square metre units on 700 square metre lots for $US8,000), there has been no mystery (other than for politicians and bureaucrats who find truth “inconvenient”) about how to supply affordable housing.

Starter housing on the fringes of the affordable North American metros costs all up about $US700 per square metre … refer Andrew Atkin’s superb … THE REAL DEAL POSTER ..

What is required to restore housing affordability is outlined within Section 4 of Christchurch: The Way Forward. It is simply about ALLOWING affordable land to be supplied and financing infrastructure properly.

Recently Australian Federal Senator – elect Bob Day (major Australian production house-builder and former President of the Housing Industry Association of Australia) explained the issue most eloquently, within a video interview with Business Spectator … Bob Day on affordable housing and jobs for young people … Business Spectator .

As explained recently within “China: Big Bubble Trouble”, new starter semi-detached housing was being supplied pre World War 11 in London for slightly over 2.0 times annual household incomes. They were building way more new housing on a population basis through the Depression years in the United Kingdom than they are today.

Through these eras too, it was normal for households to have just one income earner, as the male was seen as a “loser” if he was unable to financially provide for his family. The social pressures were quite significant.

As eminent Hoover Institution economist Thomas Sowell said “We have spent the past few decades replacing what works with what feels good”. In a 2009 interview (video) Mr Sowell described the causes of the 2007 Global Financial Crisis … Thomas Sowell on the Housing Boom and Bust – YouTube .

During early 2009 this writer explained why economists have such a poor understanding of housing bubbles with … Housing Bubbles And Market Sense . Most wouldn’t know a house market from a horse market internationally … although thankfully … Australian and New Zealand economists are generally now well informed. Importantly, they are constructive contributors to politically progressing this serious issue.

So what did this year’s Demographia Survey (data 3rd Qtr 2013) find with respect to New Zealand’s major urban markets ?

Auckland housing at 8.0 times annual household incomes; Tauranga 6.6; Christchurch near 6.0; Wellington 5.5; Napier-Hastings 5.4; Dunedin 5.2; Hamilton 4.8 and Palmeston North 4.5.

Another useful measure of housing affordability is the relationship between Total Housing Stock Value and Gross Domestic / State / Metropolitan Product, which should not exceed at “tops” 1.5 times … ideally 1.2 times.

September last year James Gruber writing for Forbes “3 Warning Signs Of A Bloodbath Ahead” , incorporated a graph (requires updating) illustrating the ratios of Total Housing Stock Value to GDP for Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States …


Not surprisingly, it mirrors the Demographia Survey.

As a further check, Greater Houston with its population of about 6.1 million has a Gross Metropolitan Product of near $500 billion (in contrast to New Zealand with a population of 4.5 million and a GDP PPP of about a paltry $US140 billion … some $NZ210 billion ).

In relative terms, this is due to a history of poor quality public policy and a seriously degenerate public service culture at central and local level (a further recent example of gross incompetence … Error Prone Bureaucracy ). Little wonder then, that New Zealanders had the highest GDP per capita in the world in 1920 (refer Angus Maddison Historical GDP Per Capita Tables ), but today, ranks about 46 … between Italy and Slovenia .

Because of its degenerate public service, not surprisingly, New Zealand has the worst traffic congestion problems in the developed world too .. New Zealand Has Worst Traffic: International Data | Wendell Cox | Newgeography.com

Rather amusingly, at current exchange rates in $US terms, New Zealand’s generally poor quality housing stock is “worth” more than the stock of Greater Houston !

New Zealand is a country that has been bureaucratically buggered. A textbook case of “institutional failure” at central and local level. The “rock-star” label is clearly nonsense.

New Zealand’s current economic activity is being “juiced up” due to a China Bubble Boom and the excessive costs of the Christchurch earthquake recovery. Bureaucratic incompetence has meant this painfully long recovery will be a $NZ40 billion exercise, when it should have been in the order of $NZ15 billion.

Sadly it would appear, The Broken Window Fallacy is not understood by economic commentators, in that the Christchurch earthquake recovery (with some flooding problems due to Council incompetence with poorly maintained drainage infrastructure … in the main) is simply the replacement of the capital stock.

The latest figures from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand indicate the New Zealand housing stock has a “value” of some $NZ716 billion … roughly 3.4 times its GDP. It should not exceed 1.5 times ($NZ315 billion … ideally 1.2 times ($NZ252 billion). This suggests there is something in the order of $NZ401 and $NZ461 billions of bubble value in New Zealand housing. It takes about 25% of mortgages incorporated within this bubble value to fuel it … some$NZ100 billion through $NZ115 billion of at risk bubble mortgage value.

The problem is the New Zealand Banks only have a capital base of about $NZ29 billion (RBNZ figures).

Currently, the major international concern is China … and its transitioning from a panicked and manic investment frenzy following the 2007 Global Financial Crisis (triggered by the North American urban planners … no doubt the Chinese Communists are not grateful). China is slowing, as explained within a recent Financial Times article Do Chinas Qtr1 GDP Numbers Gloss Reality? .

Information from the Chinese National Statistics Bureau (comment on article thread) illustrate the extent of the massive residential overbuilding and abrupt falloff in sales and new construction so far this year …

” “In the first three months, the floor space under construction by the real estate development enterprises accounted for 5,470.30 million square meters, up by 14.2 percent year-on-year, decreased 2.1 percentage points over the first two months. Of which, the floor space of residential building construction area was 3,932.06 million square meters, up by 11.4 percent. The floor space started this year was 290.90 millions square meters, down by 25.2 percent, and the pace of decline narrowed 2.2 percentage points. Specifically, the floor space of residential buildings started in the year amounted to 212.38 million square meters, down by 27.2 percent. The floor space of buildings completed stood at 185.20 million square meters, went down by 4.9 percent, and the pace of decline narrowed 3.3 percentage points, of which, the floor space completed of residential buildings stood at 139.10 million square meters, went down by 7.3 percent.”
>Does it say ‘it has bottomed out’? Is this a soft landing? -25%(prior -27,4%)”

At say 60 to 80 square metres each (plus common area), in number of unit terms, how many have been put in place in China over recent years ? What is the build rate per 1,000 population per annum for the Chinese metros ?

It would appear China could be described as Ireland by 300 … or even 500 times … with much greater “multiple stretch” in the former. And that’s without considering the commercial and infrastructure over-spend and mal-investment.

The Irish bubble collapsed at much lower Median Multiples than those currently prevailing in China, New Zealand and Australia.

Ireland is no doubt an excellent “case study” for Australian and New Zealand policy makers, as they are assessing the consequences of the bubbles collapsing in their own countries. They will be well aware that there has been no sustainable bubble in history.

Mr Colombo assessed the New Zealand economy from a financial perspective. This “structural check” indicates Mr Colombo is correct.

Business Lifestyle News

NZ’s rabbit pizza sold out

Hell New Zealand pizza
Hell New Zealand pizza

Hell Pizza’s billboard in New Zealand, made of real rabbit fur, created outrage in the country.

Once New Zealanders got over the shock of Hell Pizza’s billboard made of rabbit fur, they were so quick to grab a bite of the new rabbit pizza, that the outlet  sold out the product within three weeks of the launch.

On the back of the rabbit pizza, Hell recorded the highest ever week sales in the store’s 18-year history.

Wellington-based Hell tried to source more wild rabbit from its Southland suppliers; however, weather conditions defied the professional hunters.

Rabbits were first released in New Zealand by Captain Cook in 1777. They are considered a pest and can be hunted all year.

“We initially thought that 600kg would suffice, but soon realised that demand for the product was far greater than we forecast,” says Hell general manager Ben Cumming.

In the short time, Hell sold 6,562 pizzas which the restaurant equates to around 13,000 Kiwis trying the rabbit pizza.

Set up in 1996 by  Callum Davies, Hell has branches in the UK, Korea, Canada and India. In 2006 it was sold to the franchise Tasman Pacific Foods which owns Burger King.

Hell Pizza is known for its controversial marketing campaign – in 2006, the pizza outlet marketed their Lust Pizza with 170,000 free condoms.

Rabbit Food Facts

  • The USDA has stated that rabbit is the most nutritious meat known to man. It has about half the amount of cholesterol of chicken, turkey, beef, pork, or lamb and 33% less sodium than chicken.
  • Rabbits will produce 6 pounds of meat on the same feed and water as a cow will produce 1 pound of meat on the same feed and water.
  • Two rabbits can produce nine million kittens in three years
  • “Easter Bunny Syndrome” is a phrase used to describe people that happily eat other meats but have an aversion to rabbit due to the “cute” factor. (Source: Yahoo News)

 

Lifestyle News Study Abroad

NZ launches online tool for depression

Depression among youth

Depression among youth

New Zealand has launched SPARX – a clinically tested self-help tool developed especially for young New Zealanders.

The online game-style tool developed by Auckland University will help young people develop skills to deal with feeling down, depressed or stressed.

An initiative of the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project, SPARX is a welcome tool in a country with 20% depressed youth.

“We know mental health is a big issue for teenagers with around one in five young people experiencing some form of problem during adolescence,” says Prime Minister John Key.

“It’s important that they can get help when they need it,” says John.

SPARX is designed to fill a treatment gap with young people who may not currently be seeking help. Users can access, register and start using SPARX independently and anonymously in their own time – making help available to more young people around New Zealand.

As an e-therapy SPARX has been widely tested with young people in New Zealand and has been found to be an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression.

A study in the British Medical Journal in 2012 found use of SPARX resulted in a ‘clinically significant’ reduction in depression, anxiety and an improvement in quality of life.

SPARX is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which teaches skills to cope with negative thoughts and feelings, including behaviours important in protecting against depression – problem solving, being active, positive cognition, social skills, and relaxation.

It is also designed to fit alongside other forms of mental health treatment including face to face therapy, medication, family therapy and working on other issues in the young person’s life, like dealing with bullying, and addressing alcohol or drug abuse.

Recording artist Stan Walker is supporting the launch by allowing his latest single ‘Bully’ to be used to get the SPARX message out to young people.

The Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project was launched in April 2012 and is investing $62 million over four years in a range of initiatives to improve youth mental health, delivered in schools, online, through communities and health services.

(Photo credit: Deviant Art)

Bollywood Entertainment News

IIFA photos: John Travolta shakes leg with Hrithik

HrithikTravolta

HrithikTravolta

For those generations raised on Hollywood as well as Bollywood movies, this would probably be the most unforgettable moment – watching John Travolta share the dance floor with Hrithik Roshan.

When the two of the biggest dancing stars in the world took to the stage at the 15th IIFA Awards (India’s Oscars), fireworks were in the offing.

And pictures tell a story of thousand words. So when Hrithik tweeted his picture on the floor with Travolta, the tweet went viral.

Here’s our selection of some of the exciting pictures from IIFA 2014, which was hosted in the United States for the first time.