A Big Shout Out to all the volunteers, program participants, judges, vendors, sponsors and patrons who all came together to celebrate India's 72nd Republic Day and make it the biggest ever IAGB Republic Day celebration on record. We sincerely extend our thanks and gratitude to our chief Guest CGNY Sandeep Chakravorty and to all the State legislators and State Senators from MA and NH for attending and participating in the event. While the planning for India Day celebration has begun in the background, IAGB EC team currently is focused on Civic Engagement and Community service activities over the next few weeks. We invite you all to attend the Civic Engagement Discussion on March 7th in Hopkinton (Details given below) and watch this space for details on the upcoming Visa Camp. IAGB is also conducting toiletry and food drives for various shelters and soup kitchens. Your contributions and participation is sincerely appreciated.

In this issue, you will find:
  • A note on Civic Engagement Forum - Prag Singh
  • A Note on Indian Consular Camp - Sanjay Gowda
  • From the Director's Corner – Prag Singh
  • Spotlight – Ramesh Dayalan (President) and Ramesh Kumar (Vice President) of Tamil Makkal Mandram (TMM); Shanthy Sundaramurthy (President) of New England Tamil Sangam (NETS)
  • Guest Column – Swasti Bhargava, BollyX Instructor, Owner/Choreographer at Swasti School of Dance.
  • IAGB Food Drive
  • OCI Updates – Published and verified by CGNY
  • IAGB Upcoming events
  • IAGB Recent events
  • IAGB Sponsors
  • Our Media Partners

Like always, we invite you to submit guest columns on diverse topics for inclusion in the newsletter. Your feedback and suggestions and welcome!! Please contact via Email if you wish to make community event announcements through this newsletter.

Please visit our Website to sign up for annual family/single or life membership of IAGB. Contact Us if you are interested to volunteer at our upcoming events.

  • March 7th, IAGB Civic Engagement Forum
  • Mar 21st, 2020: Visa Camp
  • May 2020: IAGB Run (Date and other details will be announced soon)
  • Jun 2020: IAGB SeniorFest (Date and other details will be announced soon)
  • Aug 15th, 2020: India Day

IAGB celebrates Black History Month The 1965 Immigration & Nationality Act that opened the door for large numbers of Asians, Africans and Latin Americans, was enacted against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement. Most Indian Americans living in United States today have immigrated to this 'land of opportunity' post 1965 and hence have benefited from the changes in attitude that this passage Act created. But this was result of a hard fought battle and many sacrifices by the Black African-Americans. One small way we as Indian-Americans can thank the trail blazers that made our lives secure and comfortable is by studying the African-American History.


-- Yogita Miharia & Sanjay Kudrimoti

IAGB Civic Engagement Forum on March 07, 2020
-- Prag Singh
Have you ever wondered that puzzle to solve global warming may start with having better commute system in your local town? Or the fact that issue of work permits to our talented H4 workforce may have its root in local bodies not bothering about such national issues?
So how do we keep our feet firmly on ground while shooting for stars (Read national and global issues)? By realizing that all movements start at the grass root levels. As Tip O'Neil famously said, "All politics is local". In this spirited political environment where the dreams are made of making a change at not just national (Read Democratic Primaries) but international level (Read Kashmir), everything starts at home.
Before you turn on CNN or Zee TV, spare a thought about the right usage of your taxes in your own town. Should you not be consulted about a new commercial development happening right across the corner in your town? Do you even wonder if your town school should give your child a day off on Diwali? Or in many case, can you play a big role while being on visa?
If you have ever wondered about similar issues, it's time to think about ways to get these questions answered and what kind of role you can play in getting this addressed. Come join IAGB in exploring local governance, learn the difference between open and representative governance and be a part of Indian American community that's consistently growing and becoming part of local town governance.
Join us in series of events we are conducting throughout this year. Our first Civic Engagement event of 2020 will be in Hopkinton on 7th March at 10:30 AM EST.

--- Prag Singh

Indian Consular Camp
March 21, 2020
9 am to 3.30 pm
IAGB and Consul General of India, NY are organizing “Indian Consular Camp” on March 21, 2020, in partnership with New England Kannada Koota (NEKK), Kala Tarangini, New England Marathi Mandal (NEMM), New England Malayalee Association (NEMA), India Association of New Hampshire (IANH), Tamil Makkam Mandaram (TMM), Kerala Association of New England (KANE), New England Shirdi Sai Parivaar (NESSP), and Milan USA, Gurjar, and India Society of Worcester, and supported by many regional community organizations in the New England area.

CGI, NY Consulate and CKGS personnel will be onsite to review and approve the applications and the applicants can submit validated/approved applications for further processing, on the spot. Also CGI, NY consular officers will process all the miscellaneous services on the spot.

Please visit CGI, NY website (https://bit.ly/2UC8a5x) for a complete list of miscellaneous services. The community members can avoid the time-consuming and costly process of rejected applications. You will also avoid a trip to New York that some people make to submit applications. Any questions on Visa, OCI, Passport, Misc. services may also be addressed at the camp.

OCI reissue due to a new passport has been a massive inconvenience for a large number of OCI cardholders in the recent past. Although there is a temporary relief till June 30, it is time to apply for OCI renewal and take advantage of the Consular camp.

Visit www.iagb.org for more details on the Consular Camp and how to apply.

-- Sanjay Gowda, President IAGB

Coupling” …. A Grassroots movement for National Issues...
-- Prag Singh

In the world of psychology, there is a concept called “de-coupling”. Let me flip this a bit and call it “coupling” to make it easier to drive the conversation here. This phenomenon has played a major role in some historical contexts. At the core of it, it’s all about a “factor/environment” that influence the outcome of a certain activity and in the absence of that factor the activity can see a dramatic decline/increase in its occurrence. A well-known example is the Kansas City experiment of police control. A successful outcome where the power given to police force in a “well defined area” reduced the crime dramatically ( without understanding “coupling” scenario, expansion of power resulted into nationwide issue of increased police brutality ). Another example that can be force fit into the similar category is suicidal rate in 60s England. Having CO coming freely in homes as town gas resulted in major suicide rate and once the overhaul of gas pipelines took place, the suicide rate came down crashing. Last and a majorly controversial topic that we can think of is easy gun availability in US or unavailability of easy access in Australia and results of gun related deaths in last few decades in these two countries.
In summary, using police force strategy in a certain suburb of KS, cutting the direct gas pipeline in England’s homes or creating the hurdle in getting the guns, all resulted in a certain outcome or in another words, if we don’t act in a certain manor within certain context, the outcomes are difficult to get. If you want to take this “coupling” concept to the next level, think of massive “alcohol culture” in US college campuses and resulted rape cases. You can now probably see a clear answer here if you want to make college campuses safe for girls. Topic for another day….
Now how is this “coupling” process connected to a topic for Indian American diaspora here ? Think of all the helplessness that this diaspora goes through when one fine day a new law is enacted and it says that our talented spouses cannot work tomorrow onwards on H4 employment visa or reaction of this community to a congressional hearing on its beloved Kashmir and everyone sitting there seems like having anti India stand. Bring it home and you can see many towns in MA where Indian American population has reached in double digits but no political candidate is knocking on our door trying to lure these votes. Can you imagine the same if Latino Americans or African Americans hit those double digit numbers in a certain town?
We at IAGB have been giving it a lot of thoughts and do believe that there is a path to bring positive political changes for Indian Americans and make our voice heard across but to reach that higher ground, we need to change the fundamental at the grass root levels (“coupling”). And in that process, we are going out and putting efforts throughout the year to bring more awareness and more civic involvement of community at town levels. We had our first local governance session in 2019 in Burlington and this year we are going to start with Metro West (Hopkinton) in first week of March, followed by few more in 2020 across Greater Boston. We are also creating a dedicated page on IAGB web site ( www.iagb.org ) where one day you can get information about every Indian American involved in your town in any official capacity. This will also be our medium to reach out to any Indian American thinking of running for a local office and need community support.
We strongly believe that “coupling “of local governance movement with the strong political environment in country will result in much more civic involvement in Indian American community. We sincerely hope you decide not to sit on the sidelines and join this action. As Gandhi Ji famously said “ Be the Change that you want to see in the world/IAGB”. Please reach out to us if you have any suggestion, question or you want your town to be on our map for creating this grass root movement. 
To “ Coupling” …. In hope of “ getting to the stars with feet firmly on ground ”.….

Please do join us in series of events we are conducting throughout this year. Our first Civic Engagement event of 2020 will be in Hopkinton on 7 th March at 1030 AM EST.

-- Prag Singh
Our community spotlight this month is on the Tamil organizations in the New England Area – TMM (Tamil Makkal Mandram) and NETS (New England Tamil Sangam).

We spoke with TMM’s President Mr. Ramesh Dayalan (RD) and Vice-President Mr. Ramesh Kumar (RK).
IAGB: Tell us about your organization, its history, and its EC structure.
RD & RK : TMM was officially started in 2015 as a non-profit by eight people. The informal family gatherings started in 2010 in Nashua, and it grew into TMM because of the interest of the community. The board consists of nine members. The EC has no set number of members. Our term is two years and one has to be in the EC for 2 years to join the board and the president should serve one term in a board to be a president. 

IAGB: What is the mission of TMM? 
RD & RK : Our main goal is to enrich the Tamil language and culture and perform charity. 50% of our collections go to charity. With the goal of promoting the language, we promote all area Tamil schools so our next generations can keep the language alive. We do have a Literary Circle group, which conducts Tamil based event on a small scale once in two months.

IAGB: Tell us about your events. Which one is your flagship event?
RD & RK : We do multiple events every year. Our largest one, which is also our flagship event is Pongal, which happens in late January. We enforce the Tamil language in this event, so every item on stage is in Tamil only. In our other events, we do not enforce the language and are more open. Ours is an open organization and everyone is welcome to attend our events. Almost fifty non-Tamil families attended this year’s Pongal event. It is a huge cultural event where kid's and adults’ talent is showcased. We had about 270 Cultural participants, around 100 kids participated in drawing, coloring and painting competition. Overall we had about 900 attendees. The photo booth at this year’s event consisted of life-size cutouts of various Tamil scholars (Thiruvalluvar, Bharathiyar & Kamban ). People attend it for the grand experience. Some of our other events are Tamil New Year, Summer Olympics, Cricket Tournament, Volleyball / Throwball Tournament, Diwali, etc. For Diwali, we try to bring an artist or troupe from India. In between, we also conduct some workshops like events, for example, Rubik’s cube, Yoga, college preparation, etc. In this year’s New Year event, we are inviting all area Tamil Schools to keep up with our mission of enriching and preserving the language. We also did a Golu competition this year. We have another event coming up in 2 months, which will focus on drama, speech, and music. We are also in the process of planning a family camping trip this summer. TMM is all about bringing Tamil speaking people together and building lifelong friendships. Early once we screen 2 or 3 Tamil movies to our members for a discounted price. 

IAGB: Where do you see your organization in the next five years?
RD & RK : We want to continue spreading the language and our culture and keep up with our charity goals. Our goal is to bring Tamil and other community people closer and provide them many different unique events throughout the year. One of our important ones is to support the formation of Harvard Tamil Chair, which is for establishing a department of Tamil at Harvard University. 

IAGB: What are some of the other initiatives of your organization? 
RD & RK : Like we mentioned, charity is one of our core goals. In the last 5 years, we have donated $20,000. In the US, some of our beneficiaries have been Harvard Tamil Chair, Epilepsy foundation, local school districts, fire stations, and soup kitchens. In India, we work with Tamil Naidu Foundation to give back to charities there. 2 years ago, there was a major flood and we donated around $3500 towards building houses for impacted families. We also donate to VisionAid, which makes a direct impact on the people of India. We are currently looking at building classrooms for some schools in India. We also choose a school district in TamilNadu, and give an award to a top student and his/her teacher.
Our Youth wing is significantly active. They conduct the TMM Olympics themselves including fundraising.

IAGB: What are some of your challenges?
RD & RK : Like most organizations, our challenge is also to bring people to events sometimes. The bigger one is selling tickets when we bring any talent/troupe from India since the costs are high. 

IAGB: How are you different from NETS?
RD & RK : TMM started as a family gathering that eventually grew big enough for us to host our first Pongal event in a church auditorium. 325 people showed up and that is when we realized the need for another Tamil organization. NETS do it in their style and we have our own style. Whenever we conduct an event, we always make sure that we are slightly doing it on a bigger scale than our last year's event. NETS is more active in the Southern part of the region, and TMM more in the Northside area. We worked with NETS during the Harvard Tamil Chair Fundraising and we will always work together if there is any need to enrich Tamil Language. 

IAGB: Tell us about your experience as President and Vice President of TMM.
RD & RK : Our team is a very hardworking team, which makes our jobs easier. 
We always work together as one team. We always listen to other's input, innovative ideas, and feedback. The great thing about our team is that everyone has the same frequency and wavelength. After every event, the team gets together in a restaurant to unwind and have a fun and positive postmortem. We truly enjoy being part of such an amazing team. We would like to add that we are very appreciative of IAGB’s work of bringing all regional organizations together. Thank you.

IAGB : Tell us about yourself.
Ramesh Dayalan : I live in Nashua with my wife Sivasakthi Thirunavukkarasu and 2 2 kids - Sruthi Ramesh (15) and Karthik Ramesh (8). I work in a Financial Company in Boston area. I have 20+ years of work experience in various IT and Financial sectors. I love to be part of the community and do service as much as I can. I have been a part of TMM for last 10 years and am one of the founding members.
Ramesh Kumar : I have over 23 years of experience in the IT field and have led numerous software engineering teams at an array of major Boston based organizations like Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, StateStreet Financial Corporation, Hachette Book Group, Digitas, EnerNOC, Massachusetts General Hospital & SDL. I have an unquenchable thirst for learning new technologies and like to lead from the front. Outside of work, I like to play all type of sports, but cricket is my front runner. I like to spend time with family and friends, watch Pats all season and watch Celtics, Bruins, and Red Sox if they go to playoff :). Apart from being a part of the TMM team, I am also part of a few other non-profits. I live in Lexington, MA with my wife Thilaka and two boys, Arkesh Kumar (13) & Krithesh Kumar (8). As part of TMM, my ultimate goal is simple "Every single Tamil family in MA and NH should be aware of the name "TMM" and every one of them should step into some TMM Events in the future.

Visit  https://www.tmm-usa.org/ to learn more about TMM.

We spoke with NETS President Ms. Shanthy Sundaramurthy.

IAGB : Tell us about your organization, its history and its EC structure.
Shanthy : New England Tamil Sangam (NETS) is a non-profit 501 (C)(3) organization providing the full range of Tamil Cultural activities and Community Service to the New England region primarily Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. The members of the NETS are the residents of the New England region and have an interest in Tamil cultural and social events. That's why Dr. Sivamani named New England Tamil Sangam. He is the founder of this organization. It was started by 3-4 people in the early 1970s Siva Mani, Lalitha Mani, K.K. Sankaran, and Krishnan Iyer. Its EC Structure consists of President, Secretary, and Treasurer.
When the need arises we fill Vice-President, Joint-Secretary and Join-Treasurer roles.

IAGB : Where do you see your organization in the next five years?
Shanthy : NETS is marching towards our 50th year soon. In the next five years: 
a) We will be enhancing more cultural events involving more and more talented kids who want to portrait Tamil Heritage and Culture.
b) Bring more aids for the benefit of NETS Members in case of emergency, help, and support needed. 
c) NETS, as of today, has more than 1500 members and is expected to grow further in the coming years.

IAGB : What is the mission of NETS? 
Shanthy : Our Sangam provides means and mechanisms for many talent displays. It also provides a great place to have some social contacts. We help our members build new friendships and foster our unity. To help facilitate these, we organize a lot of Social Events. We do conduct Learning Sessions and Speeches by various Tamil Scholars. Our motive is to spread our old and ancient Indian Language as much we can. 

IAGB : Tell us about your events. Which one is your flagship event?
Shanthy : We do four events in a year and when the opportunity rises we do more than four. We celebrate Pongal Vizhaa, Chithirai Vizha, Annual Summer Picnic & Children's Vizha.
Our flagship event is our famous PONGAL VIZHA with a unique theme every year. We attract 1000 people every year who participate in our cultural event which includes Dancing, Singing, Drama, and Instrumental. We make all kids are given equal opportunity to display their unique talents. We make sure all our events are only in TAMIL.

IAGB : What are some of the other initiatives of your organization? 
Shanthy : NETS is so proud to be the main backbone of the Harvard Tamil Chair in the New England Region. We supported bringing Harvard Tamil Chair in the prestigious Harvard University by involving and organizing various fundraiser events. Our Team of 2015-2017 had made this possible. Some of the notable fundraisers involved celebrities from India (Mr. Y.G. Mahendra from Drama Genre, Mr. Karthick Iyer from Instrumental Genre, Karthikeya Sivasenapathy - Socialist and Reformist). NETS supported TNF Walkathon Fundraiser held in NH during 2017 which helped to bring more support to underprivileged kids in India for their studies.

IAGB : What are some of the challenges?
Shanthy : Being united all the time is always a challenge for mankind. We face different challenges in different events. Some of them are easy to overcome while some of them take time. But we overcome all challenges with our integrity and our experience. 

IAGB : Tell us about your experience as a President of NETS.
Shanthy : In the beginning, I was naturally nervous. My being a woman as the president of NETS was a challenge. I had to face all the challenges as they came. I had great expectations that our team members to be the pillar for NETS. I have learned a lot in these past few months. They have always supported me and stood by my side. As a woman, I want to encourage and support all other women who work so hard for their families and for their community. It is never easy for a person to remain balanced. The great Dr. APJ Kalam once said that the great leadership quality should be to ask ourselves, "What can we give?" As a president of NETS, I ask the same question. What can we give to the NETS community? I took an oath of this office to do as much as possible for the welfare of our NETS community.
IAGB : Tell us about yourself, Shanthy.
Shanthy Sundaramurthy : I grew up in Thiruchirapalli, Tamilnadu, India. It is a beautiful city where the great rivers Cauvery and Kollidam split. I graduated from college majoring in Accounting and Marketing. I am married to Dr. Sundaramurthy. He is an Electrical Engineer. He showed me how to love people. I moved to the USA in the early 90s. I am the mother of seven beautiful children. I have worked as an Accountant for the last 17 years. Lately, I own a business. We are blessed and are happy as a family. I love people in general. I have a special love for Tamil in my heart.

Visit http://new.netamilsangam.org/ to learn more about NETS.

--  Yogita Miharia & Sanjay Kudrimoti

Discovery of (hidden) passion
-- Swasti Bhargava
“I wonder”, “I wish”, “… if only” are some of the expressions that come up in our minds when we flashback our life. But one doesn’t need a time-machine to go back and reset our life. In previous few years I have realized that I can still take charge and redirect my life so it aligns with my interests and passion.

I was blessed to grow up in an upper middle class family in India. I had all the love of my parents and siblings and was fortunate to get great “education”. The issue was never with opportunity but with the academic tracks and hence the career choices that follow. In my case too, like in the case of many millions of other Indian kids growing up was - Doctor or Engineer. So, I became a Telecommunication Engineer but I knew even then that I was not destined to be the next Nikola Tesla or Graham Bell. In spite of that my journey continued on auto pilot mode, and I earned my Master’s degree in Information Management from University of Maryland.

On a parallel track my personal life was in high gear – got married to a wonderful guy and as years rolled by our family expanded to four. My husband’s job took me to Maryland, Reno and California. I tried different odd jobs like Technical recruiter and even real estate agent while being a mom of two kids but career wise nothing really connected with me.

I moved to Boston 6 years ago and this is where I discovered my true passion..... Dance

My life took a turn when I went for a BollyX (Bollywood dance fitness program) training in 2015 just for fun. I had stumbled across it while looking for a Bollywood class. To my amazement, I not only got certified but also got a job offer as an instructor at YMCA, Charlestown through my mentor. In my mind, to be an instructor meant to have a perfectly toned/sculpted body along with tons of confidence which I was clearly lacking. I was such an introvert with low self-esteem that I almost said no. After gathering a lot of courage (even with anxiety issues) I faced my first demo class. To my surprise, I got such positive feedback that I was offered to teach 2 classes a week at the same location.

There was no looking back for me after that. Since then, in addition to BollyX, I have been teaching Bollywood classes to kids, teens and adults. I do corporate events, Bollywood dance parties and also choreograph for weddings and special occasions.

Following my passion for dance has given me a sense of purpose. Nothing makes me happier when I am able to get people rid of their inhibitions, make them forget about their worries and feel good about themselves.
Dance has helped me form friendships that are unique and unbreakable. I have a sense of belonging now and feel part of the community.
I am able to accept my body the way it is in-spite of its scars, birthmarks and jiggles and choose to take care of it.
I really do hope that can I be part of a world where my daughters’ self-esteem is not defined by what she looks like and where we all can redefine our own goals to simply be happy, and simply be healthy.
Swasti Bhargava
BollyX Instructor at  BollyX - The Bollywood Workout
Owner/Choreographer at Swasti School of Dance

IAGB Food Drive for Burlington PHP
IAGB upcoming Events
Republic Day Celebrations in Pictures
Hotstar (Star TV India) which is now part of The Walt Disney Company. Hotstar is the biggest streaming destination in India with 300 Mn users and the leading South Asian platform in the US. We have the best of Indian Entertainment,MoviesWeb Series, regional content and Sports including the IPL and Cricket World Cup. The purpose of this email was to reach out to understand how we could work with the Indian community at your workplace. We have built our reach in the US through community connects such as Cricket fests, match screenings, comedy fest etc.
Currently Streaming
Live Cricket Match INDIA V Newzeland
Hotstar Specials- Out of Love
Showing Master Chef India
Movies- Housefull 4 and Arjun Reddy
Everything in one Platform Don’t Miss the Excitement.
Now Subscribe Using Promo Code IAGBSTAR for special discount.
Newyork Life Insurance Company
At the heart of New York Life is a commitment to be there for the customers when they need -whether today or decades into the future. NY Life has delivered on that promise for nearly 175 years by investing wisely, growing a diversified mix of businesses, and remaining true to the mission as a mutual company, accountable only to their customers, not to outside investors.
People come to work at New York Life to contribute to the financial goals of millions of families and businesses each day. NY Life has a diverse, nationwide workforce that allows them to support the communities where we work. New York Life has a dedicated South Asian Unit for the past 20 years.
At BMW of Sudbury, a Herb Chambers Company, we don't believe in providing the same old dealership experience, and we aren't interested in sticking to the status quo. We are committed to satisfying our customers' every automotive need, and we strive to create the kind of environment that they'll want to share with others. Come to this Massachusetts BMW dealer and you will find a wealth of chic and well-designed vehicles for your consideration. Browse our new 2018-2019 inventory and you'll find a large selection of  new BMW  models, including the ever-popular BMW X5 SAV®, BMW 3 Series sedan and BMW i8 coupe. We also have plenty of well-kept  used BMW  models for budget-conscious shoppers to browse, as well as trustworthy Certified Pre-Owned BMW vehicles. 
Indian Circle for Caring USA Inc., (ICC) is a volunteer non-profit organization focused on providing urgent or emergency guidance and support for our fellow community members and their families as they may encounter unplanned and unexpected events such as serious sickness, hospitalization, accidents, family crisis, and death / bereavement of a loved one. Started in August 2007, ICC has been actively building awareness in the community by working with existing social, religious, professional, services, media and other organizations as well as participation at various events. ICC has over 5,500 members and has received support of over sixty (60) organizations. In order to provide needed support to its clients ICC has built a bank of over 250 volunteers and established strategic partnership with several organizations.
Editors: Sanjay Kudrimoti & Yogita Miharia
IAGB Communications