Overcoming Fear and Anxiety in These Trying Times!

Acting As a Catalyst for Reversing the Current Environment of Intolerance into Acceptance!!

Dear Esteemed Members of Our Community:

There is genuine and valid concern about the discriminatory actions of some who have been emboldened by the current political atmosphere. They have always been among us, but had not expressed their views as openly as they do now. However, America is still very welcoming and most people are good Samaritans keeping the American promise and its greatness alive. One such example is Mr. Ian Grillot, a 24-year-old from Olathe, Kansas who took a bullet in Kansas fatality of an Indian-American.

It is our responsibility to report any discriminatory behavior to appropriate authorities, but it is also our duty to appreciate our friends, colleagues, neighbors, school mates and others who love and respect us – it does not matter what the apparent differences are between us.

We, Indian-Americans need to be the catalyst for this change – reversing the current environment of intolerance into acceptance – and must continue to be inclusive and open-minded and get to know people from all communities around us. We are a fortunate people because we originate in a country that exemplifies the true meaning of unity in diversity. Inherently we know how it is done. Now we need to demonstrate it here.

We will continue to discuss our concerns with the various government bodies so they are aware of our concerns and our contributions. To that effect, I am sharing letters that IAALV Board Member and Legal Counsel Deepak Sharma, Esq. has just sent to Hon. Congressman Charlie Dent and Hon. Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Josh Shapiro regarding our concerns seeking a meeting and press conference.

Please ensure that our community members are aware of the actions IAALV has taken to make 7000 plus Lehigh Valley Americans of Indian Descent (irrespective of their affiliations) relevant and safe.

Let us all forge ahead together with a single unified voice as IAALV continually strives for the betterment of the community we serve, and the community at large.

Happy Navaratri, Easter, and Lailat al Miraj! May these Festivities Bring Us All Together Overcoming Bigotry, Intolerance and Hate thus Giving Us a Better Understanding of Our Shared Future and Making the World a Better Place to Live in Harmony!!

Please click on the following link to view the letters sent to our elected officials:

IAALV Letter to Congressman Dent (PDF)

IAALV Letter to Atty. General Shapiro (PDF)

 

Arun Kumar

IAALV President 2017

484-358-2335 (Mobile)

 

Ashim Bhowmick

IAALV Board Chair 2017-18

610-966-5057 (Home)

610-457-4205 (Mobile)

Happy Gandhi Jayanti (2015)

Happy Gandhi Jayanti!

On 2015 Bapu’s Birth Anniversary – An Important Message

BRIDGING RACE GAP THROUGH GOOD HUMAN RELATIONS ALTRUISTICALLY: An Undertaking That Is Self-Serving For Any Community!

 Dear Esteemed Members of our Community:

 Let us all choose to rise above our differences and live together – as citizens of this world.  We must promote good human relations where we live and bridge the gaps between people of different cultures, language, race, age, background and beliefs, so that all citizens may participate fully in the life. This applies not just in the Lehigh Valley, but the world we live in so we can leave future generations a world full of peace, acceptance and inclusiveness.

 I strongly believe, to leave a legacy of love and passion in the world, we must raise our future generations to belong to this adopted country of ours and to be able to succeed as global citizens (if we groom them that way and they so choose).

 Broadened horizons give a perspective that broadens the mind and creates visionaries out of ordinary people. Our children deserve the opportunity to be recognized not as belonging just to any one State of any one country but as individuals and communities that the world wants to welcome as their own no matter where they go geographically. We must have the ability to envision that our next generation will relate to themselves as Americans and as World Citizens of Indian Descent not the 36 states and union territories that their parents have migrated from to these United States. 

 These are simple ways we Indian-Americans can improve race relations in America for our current generation and the generations to come. A lot has been done and lot has to be done on race relations. This is particularly important in the context of what has been happening lately in the United States.

 Team IAALV is proud of the work put in towards our and the larger community and wants to see the work continue and keep getting better with each new committee. IAALV needs many good people with altruistic sentiments to join as it continues to represent ‘Composite India’ as an ‘UMBRELLA ORGANIZATION’ in the Lehigh Valley making 7000 plus Lehigh Valley Indian-Americans relevant.

 Let us elect a new executive committee that represents diverse India and choose members with different backgrounds, perspectives and skills and a strong interest in serving our community. Diversity will make the committee stronger and continually improve our association.

 Ashim Bhowmick

President – IAALV 2014-15

Winner of 2003 Allentown Human Relations Award

610-966-5057 (Home); 610-457-4205 (Mobile)

 

New Milestone

AN IMPORTANT MILESTONE REACHED IN MORE THAN 50 YEARS OF OUR PRESENCE IN THE LEHIGH VALLEY! 

Dear Esteemed Members of Our Community:

Lehigh Valley Indian-Americans have reached an important milestone in more than 50 years of their presence in the Lehigh Valley and achieved a new momentum in reaching a goal for second generation and generations to come.

A sign – Indian American Assoc. of LV – at the intersection of Rt 33 & Wm Penn Highway – has been installed by Penndot. IAALV adopted this intersection in 2014 to be a part of Great American Clean-up of PA.DSC03614

This was possible because of the alliance IAALV recently formed with the LV Kannada Group and the volunteer support of LV Gujarati Brahmin Samaj. We owe it to Prof Balakrishna Rao for his tireless service to make this possible on behalf of 7000 plus Lehigh Valley Indian-Americans.

We have established ourselves in this adopted country and now our community’s presence in the local scene through simple acts of altruism thus living up to our Mission Statement – “We care for the Community We Live In”

This is a moment of reflection for all Americans – being an integral part of local society, bridging the gaps between people of different cultures, language, race, age, background and beliefs, so that all may participate fully in the life and welfare of our home -Lehigh Valley – thus building a secure future for us all.

Look forward to have fruitful and meaningful outcomes from the various alliances that IAALV has recently formed. Let us continue to forge ahead.

Next Great American Clean-Up of PA is on Sat Oct 3.

A BIG Thank You to our regular volunteers for their ongoing commitment for this twice a year clean-up project. Last clean-up was on Sat May 23 and next Clean-up is scheduled for Oct 3rd. Please volunteer your time!

Please contact Prof. Balakrishna Rao IAALV Coordinator – Road Clean-up Project —info@iaalv.org

Ashim Bhowmick

President-IAALV

 

INDIAN-AMERICANS IN NORTH AMERICA

INDIAN-AMERICANS IN NORTH AMERICA

Urgency for Social Integration and Political Assimilation

An Important Step Necessary for Their Future Generations

By

Ashim K. Bhowmick

To emerge out of the dominance of alien environment – and the barrage of non-akin western customs into something meaningful and tangible, the estranged Indian Diaspora celebrates a long repertoire of religious, cultural, and social activities every calendar year. These performances and functions organized by the Indian immigrant communities across the United States recreate a ‘homeland’ – a memory and identity.

This is important and it flows in abundance among the members of this uprooted Diaspora precisely because none of them can afford to take their roots for granted. The vitality is born of a marvelous communal potential even if the homeland’s nostalgia is awesome.

The vitality of these parents is often seen to derive from professional accomplishments and intimacy of interaction with the members of their ‘own’ community. They are drawn to each other by a spontaneous condition of affiliation and alienation from their ‘homeland’. It invokes a vaguely powerful relationship drenched in primordial passion, but this very passion that lends an imaginary character and a false sense of convictions, belonging, and a comforting identity to the Diaspora.

The magnificent Indian regional cultures and performing Indian arts, love of beauty and life, with a longing for something beyond, and deeper than the materialistic American milieu, epitomize the cultural traditional heritage that the Indian-American community is trying to maintain in order to pass on the same to their children effectively. But it also has a propensity to invent an imaginary culture of India in this adopted land, thereby, defeating the sole purpose, which is, appropriately passing on the heritage to their children. Many second-generation children strongly feel that these programs are geared towards their parents and offer very little for them to relate to. This leaves the second generation in disarray and, perhaps, forces them to search for an identity, which is different from what their parents envision.

The industry of these parents and their relative affluence now seem to have turned against them making them a visible target for fanning latent hatred and jealousy. Indian residents are often taunted and harassed by white, black, and Hispanic youths who are intolerant of their apparent ‘foreignness’ and their obvious economic ‘success’.

This is where the foresight and aspirations of Indian-Americans, who are willing to overcome old cultural barriers and narrow perception of collective interest, are of significance. Such aspirations should not only be national but be also of ‘International’ in content. The foresight for their future resides in ‘internationalism’. The community has to play a greater role in the wider socio-cultural and welfare processes in the US and not is solely oriented toward national politics in India. The process should be ‘self serving’ and will provide for ‘acculturation’, thereby, gradually neutralizing the ‘misperception’ of those who object to their alleged ‘foreignness’.

The collective and shared community conscience is no longer based upon any narrow nationalism or group interest to hang together. It has developed out of interaction and a genuine willingness to relate to one another. Most immigrants in their adopted countries inevitably form different ethnic groups and collectively act for various purposes, in spite of their internal differences. However, some Indian-American communities, as I see them, are different in their identity and articulation.

As in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, the Indian-American community has wonderful accomplishments to its credit including a deep involvement with local welfare and community service activities such as: labor services to the well known ‘Habitat for Humanity’, provide food for homeless, raise funds for the Art’s Council, contribute funds toward renovation of an opera house, offer educational programs at institutions, donate funds toward local charity, develop and participate in “Adorning India” program for local art museum, participate in local Musikfest, Mayfair, multi-cultural activities, etc. The Indian-American Association of the Lehigh Valley thus involving in local welfare activities seeks to relate to their American neighbors in way that can impress any observer.

Many parents, here in the Lehigh Valley, encourage their children to relate to others, in order to learn from and understand people better. I think, this might not only shift gainfully the perception of Indian-American community and its future but also will equip our children with hybridized talents, which will be necessary for their survival in the 21st century. This will empower them with a unique sense of belonging and interaction, even though many of their parents struggle between returning ‘home’ and ‘staying-on’.

For many Indians, internationalism and multiculturalism are not in the air without roots or anchorage. It can well be traced from their own multicultural composite tradition. It is that tradition of multiethnic understanding, which the leaders may seek to bring forth, not just as skilled immigrant professionals or entrepreneurs, but also as an integral cultural vanguard of multicultural American citizenry.

An association representing Indian-Americans should provide the best nexus for ‘acculturation’, ‘mainstreaming’, and ‘social integration’ by adopting appropriate missions and by engaging themselves in a suitable range of activities, from positive political influence to social and cultural involvement. For instance, Indian-American Association of the Lehigh Valley strives for and has accomplished good success in the acculturation process by adopting the following mission:

“TO BE AN ORGANIZATION THAT BEST MEETS THE INDIAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY’S NEEDS AND EXPECTATIONS THROUGH VARIOUS CULTURAL, EDUCATIONAL, SOCIAL, AND COMMUNITY SERVICE PROGRAMS.

TO APPROPRIATELY PASS ON THE HERITAGE TO OUR CHILDREN AND PREPARE OUR FUTURE GENERATIONS WELL TO BECOME GOOD CITIZENS OF THIS ADOPTED COUNTRY OF OURS.

TO DEVELOP AND EXECUTE APPOPRIATE ASSOCIATION ACTIVITES THAT ENABLES US AS WELL AS OUR CHILDREN TO DEVELOP A GOOD UNDERSTANDING OF OURSELVES AND AS WELL AS OTHERS; RESPECT FOR OTHER CULTURES; AND AN OVERALL APPRECIATION OF THE PHYSICAL, NATURAL, SOCIAL, POLITICAL, AND ECONOMIC WORLD IN WHICH WE LIVE.

TO ESTABLISH AND MAINTAIN GOOD RELATIONSHIPS WITH VARIOUS ETHNIC ORGANIZATIONS, AND THE LOCAL COMMUNITY IN GENERAL INCLUDING THE LOCAL ADMINISTRATIONS AND THE MEDIA.

TO DISPLAY THE INDIAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY’S GENUINE CONCERN ABOUT THE COMMUNITY IN WHICH THEY LIVE.”

The community received spontaneous commendations on their unique but prudent approach. The associations’ new activities did not go unnoticed by the media. Clearly, this new direction was considered unique and a trendsetter by many. The local administrations here in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, wished that other ethnic organization would emulate similar objectives for their associations.

Associations should strive for the Indian-American community’s presence in the local scene in a bigger and more positive way through altruism. We, as an Indian-American community across the United States, need to send a positive message to the larger community that ‘We Care for the Community We Live In.’

Many amongst us argue, implicitly and explicitly, that because of the Indian-Americans’ special attachment to their homeland, culture, etc., many Indian-Americans residing here have been somewhat reluctant to make what seems to them to be a final break from their past and culture, etc. and become US citizens.

No one can exist in a vacuum. Everyone is affected by the pulls of various centrifugal forces. The total complexities of relations between human beings and the society are known as politics. Recognizing this as a reality, a community will do extremely well by playing a positive role. ‘Politicalization’ is a necessity Indian-Americans cannot afford to deny any longer. It seems appropriate that an organization devoted to just this aspect, striving for the Indian-Americans ‘political assimilation’ has become an urgency – a sine qua non.

By understanding and participating in the process we will enrich ourselves, help others to understand us, and through that interaction, we will understand others better. I am certain that this will help alleviate misinformation and misperception. By adopting appropriate steps and conducting suitably, any ‘first generation’ immigrant can shift the perception of those who object to their ‘foreignness’.

Here in the Lehigh Valley, a newly formed organization, known as the Indo-American Political Action Committee is dealing with political issues ably by engaging in: raising campaign funds for candidates, sponsoring election debates, providing political education, installing Indian-Americans to serve in the local administration/boards, encouraging voter registration, etc.

I think of India – how her beloved multicultural legacy is enriching local culture and ‘acculturating’, when I observe the Indian-American children in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, staging hybrid performing arts to large local audience and engaging in the local welfare process with great vigor. Their empressment toward everyone gives them identities related to the ‘mainstream’ America, and see the bright future of the Indian-American community flowering before me. This holds many promises for US.

About the author:

Ashim K. Bhowmick, President, Indian-American Association of the Lehigh Valley (1992 Part Year, 1993, 1996, & 1997 Part Year); Founding Member (1994) Indo-American Political Action Committee of the Greater Lehigh Valley; Member, Board of Trustees, Hindu Temple Society of Lehigh Valley (1996-98); and Chairperson, Planning Committee, Proposed Lehigh Valley Multicultural Center (1992-94), was instrumental in providing new direction to the Indian-American community. He changed the name of the association from India Association of the Lehigh Valley (IALV) founded in 1972 to Indian-American Association of the Lehigh Valley (IAALV) in 1996 and gave it a new logo, and wrote association mission/goal/promise/slogan and developed and implemented suitable programs toward that end.

Pennsylvania State Senate with a citation and Allentown Human Relations Commission with a Human Relations Award recognized his efforts in 2003. The citation reads like this –

“Ashim Bhowmick was the primary driver to change the course of 20 year old India Association of the Lehigh Valley from its primary focus to service its own community to one of interaction with other ethnic organizations in the Lehigh Valley. He offered programs to other ethnic organizations, media, and elected officials benefiting all people of the Lehigh Valley. Through his efforts, a lot more people now know about India and Indian-Americans in the Lehigh Valley.”

He strongly suggests that the Indian-American community must rise beyond their exclusive ethnic activities to do their share of community services including serving in the local boards to reach-out to the larger community and to pass on these traits to the second generation appropriately. Thus, this will not only help dispel misperception and misinformation about but will also provide an appropriate ‘mainstream’ identity and character to the Indian-American Diaspora.

Article has been widely published from 1997 until 2013 by almost all

leading Indian-American News Papers, as well as Indian Observer, New Delhi, India. Article was well received by the readership who relate well with the exigent message it puts forth.