Letters from Readers
I commend you for your thought-provoking editorial in the August issue on the need for a strong umbrella organization for Indian-Americans. It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that our comm-unity needs such an organization. But do we, as a community, want one? That is the question we need to answer.
A friend of mine has often stated that we Indian-Americans are individually rich but collectively poor, not only in monetary terms. We are too fragmented. Hence we cannot be effective politically or socially. You have given perfect examples of our fragmentation due to minute religious, linguistic, and ethnic differences.
There are two reasons for IACA’s shortfalls: (1) We are busy identifying with our regional, linguistic, and narrowly defined religious affiliations. (2) As we are not suffering financially, we do not see any need to unite as a community.
I like the suggestion for having an organization that has a paid staff. If we want to be effective, if we want our voices heard locally and nationally, we have to have one effective organization that mainstream media and public can go to. The key ingredient is our community’s desire to have such an organization. I am sad to state that the community does not see any such need. The IACA has not been able to keep a paid staff because its membership dues have not been increased in more than 30 years for fear of losing support. The other troubling thought is that as much as many of us want an umbrella organization, within no time of forming this dream organization another umbrella organization(s) will pop up! And this will happen only because of our tendency of not working with any system by being part of it. We all want to be in control “now” and cannot wait our turn. As the saying goes, there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians!
I have been affiliated with IACA for more than 35 years. It has tried to fulfill the role of an umbrella organization but due to changing times and so-called realities on the ground, it has had limited success. This is because so many of us do not put our differences aside for the greater good. Many in our community have problems identifying themselves as Indian-Americans. I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong in going to a place of worship of your choice, belonging to a professional organization, belonging to a state- or language-based organization of your choice. One should belong to all of the entities mentioned above but one should also belong to an umbrella organization like the IACA. Let us not forget that the mainstream community, media, and politicians identify us as Indian-Americans.
I am afraid that even if we do form another umbrella organization, it will face the same hurdles as the IACA. I am saddened by this thought, but my 35 years of community involvement in Atlanta have brought me to this realization. Some have suggested having a federation of organizations. In reality this kind of organization cannot sustain itself, as it will not have its own base.
Someone, anyone, please prove me wrong! I want to be wrong.
Yogesh Joshi, M.D.
I appreciate the concerns expressed in your editorial on an umbrella organization. Actually we have too many organizations, local, national, and international, running our affairs. The lack of teamwork in India and Indian communities is obvious, and is borne out by our poor showing in sports and our numerous political parties. Bollywood, with its third-rate movies, should be another cause for concern. We bring those poor qualities of our culture to our adopted land(s). Honesty and brilliance need to be recognized, and nepotism, hypocrisy, and mediocrity should be shunned.
No wonder that with so much of talent and hard work, with so many resources, and with such an ancient and lofty culture, Indians were slaves for over 500 years, 300 under the Mughals and 200 under the British, and still need someone from Europe to rule them. Numerous umbrella organizations already exist in all corners of the globe for Indian communities, but they provide little value.Arun K. Misra, Ph.D.
Johns Creek, Georgia
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