A monthly communiqué
September 2018 No. 9
IAGB 2017-2019 Executive Committee's tenure is now exactly at its mid point. The team feels proud of the milestones reached over the last year but also realizes that there are more issues to be addressed and more opportunities to explore. The team is not only looking at expanding its footprint on more facets of Indian American lives in New England, but is also finding ways to make these imprints deeper on their psyche. The Executive Committee strongly encourages IAGB members to attend the General Body Meeting scheduled for October 13th, 2018 at Burlington Public Library. This meeting is a good opportunity for the members to communicate their feedback and advice on what improvements can be made. We are hoping to see most of you at the GBM. Please RSVP.
In this edition you will see:
- Note From the Director's Corner - Nilanjana Rakhit
- Guest Column - Japneet Kwatra
- Community Spotlight: Dr. Manju Sheth, Physician, Lahey Health; CEO at INE/India New England Multimedia.
- IAGB Upcoming Events
- IAGB Recent Events
- Community Calendar
- Our 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
if you wish to make community event announcements through this newsletter.
Please visit our
to sign up for annual family/single or life membership of IAGB.
if you are interested to volunteer at our upcoming events.
IAGB stands with the survivors of sexual assault!
#Metoo movement has opened up the dark underbelly of our contemporary culture. From the safety of our classrooms, sanctity of our prayer halls, steps of our Capitols, and the platforms of our law and justice are all shaken up by this movement for a good reason. Respect and human dignity towards each other is the foundation of any civilized society. No more excuses!
-- SANJAY KUDRIMOTI
FROM THE IAGB DIRECTOR'S CORNER
VOTE - Its your Civic Duty!
“Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” ----------Abraham Lincoln
Why do we need to vote?
We, Indian-Americans, need to vote so that our voices are heard when the lawmakers make decisions on the issues of importance that affect our lives like education, environment, jobs, healthcare, immigration, workplace prejudices and discrimination.
The right to vote is a fundamental right of a citizen. Voting gives a citizen the right to participate in an election in a democracy. With right comes responsibility. The enduring principle conveyed in John Kennedy’s inaugural address “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” serves as a guiding light when educating ourselves and our children about our civic duties and engagement.
The promises of democracy go unfulfilled when voters do not engage and participate in elections. As President Abraham Lincoln so eloquently reminded us, “Government of people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” Various segments of the society have a role to play in assuring that the rights and responsibilities of citizens are upheld.
What are the duties of voters?
As Indian-American citizens we need to remind ourselves of our duties to vote. As parents it is our duty to inculcate in children the awareness and obligations of good citizenship. Civic education versus passion for art, culture, dance, drama, music, yoga, any form of entertainment, sports or any scientific pursuits are not mutually exclusive. They are complementary pursuits to complete one’s education. As Rabindranath Tagore in
said, “having the right is not enough. True power lies in the exercise of the right”.
As Indian-Americans our votes are our voices that can make a huge difference in electing a qualified candidate. Voting matters in all elections, federal, state and local. Solidarity in voting assures positive outcome, there is no place for regionalism to achieve victory in an election.
What can a candidate and the voters do?
The Declaration of Independence proclaimed the right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Whether a candidate should compete in federal, state or local election is not the right question to ask. A more relevant question to ask is, whether the candidate is qualified and what can the candidate do to assure a successful campaign. It is not up to the voters to decide whether an aspiring, articulate and qualified candidate should run for the federal, state or local election. The voters’ duty is to participate in elections and vote so that the victory is assured for their voices to be recognized and heard in the corridors of power.
The candidate, on the other hand, has the most critical role to play. The candidate is the protagonist. It is his/her duty to articulate his/her vision, why he/she is running in the election, why the voters should vote for him/her. Then the candidate needs to have an effective strategy to disseminate his/her messages to the voter base with the help of news and social media, forge alliances with local political parties and leaders, main-stream Americans, and other minority groups, exchange ideas with the Indian-Americans in other states, local towns and cities where they campaigned successfully and won the elections. Learn from their experiences how to energize, inspire and mobilize the voter base. Make a deliberate effort to reach out, attend cultural, educational and social events of Indian-Americans, because personal touch matters to solidify the home base. Then the candidate has to assess the campaign’s strengths and weaknesses, funding needs and sources of funding, name recognition etc. It is easier said than done and requires incredible amount of time, human resources and strong financial and political backing.
What is the role of media in an election?
In a democracy, media plays a crucial role in creating and influencing public opinion especially during the election years. Indian-American media’s role is not any different especially when there are Indian-Americans campaigning for election. Indian-American media must give Indian-American candidates a platform to transmit their messages through written and video interviews. This must be done indiscriminately, regardless of the candidates’ political affiliation or the state of the candidate’s family origin in India.
The media has the ethical and social responsibility of covering the events of election with important facts and without judgement and prejudice both in reporting and in analysis.
A Case Study
case in point is from the recent primary election in the 3rd District where an Indian-American candidate ran for the U.S. Congress. Of the 11,000 registered India-American voters actual participation in voting was barely adequate. If this is the case in all elections, the voter inertia will be crippling for our Indian-American community in the long run
The Indian-American candidates and voters can take a lesson from the 7
district in Massachusetts. The unseating of the 10-term incumbent Congressman by Ayanna Presley was long time in the making. A combination of the Presley campaign having been” heavily backed by the political establishment “, the candidate’s leadership and ability to motivate and mobilize her home base and the voters’ solidarity is illustrative to Indian American candidates.
For decades the Indian-Americans in the New England area have made significant advances and impact in education, entrepreneurship, non-profit, high technology, bio-technology, medicine and other fields, but are lagging behind in their pursuit of progress in the legislative arena on issues of importance affecting all members of the Indian-American community. The question is why? The voter inertia is crippling for our Indian-American community in the long run.
In the future, there is an opportunity for all things Indian-American in the New England area to be united and to strive to provide a platform for aspiring and qualified candidates to solidify issues affecting our community. Provide support to disseminate the candidate’s messages, help raise funds, help forge alliances with local and state influencers, volunteer, provide any other support needed to win the elections.
Most importantly, the Indian-American voters need to go to the polls and support eligible Indian-American candidate. Vote matters, and solidarity matters even more to get a seat at the table where decisions of importance are made that affect not only this generation, but also the future generations of Indian-Americans to come.
-- NILANJANA RAKHIT
NEW GIRL IN THE CITY
Day 1: As Emirates Flight 237 was about to land Logan International Airport at 08:50 pm on a warm summer evening, my very paranoid self looked out of the airplane window, saw the Boston skyline and thought “Have I come to the most breathtaking view or what!”. The grueling admission process, the weight of my education loan and the emotional roller coaster of leaving my hometown and my family felt so light as I was up in the air.
Day 2: Next morning, I wake up to the sound of my local guardian asking me if I would like to have
for breakfast. Thank you Aunty, for curtailing the intangible distance between my Swades and Pardes. She gave me her laptop so I could Skype with my family back home. Thank you Skype for reducing the tangible distance.
One master’s degree, two-part time jobs, three India trips later, on my fourth visit to India, me and my sister go to our local grocery store to shop.
The uncle greets us with pleasantry chitchat. While we bid him goodbye he asks me, "B
eta, where do you live?"
I thought he wants to give us a ride as we bought a lot of heavy weight stuff. I tell him, "
Uncle, we live just two blocks down the road."
He says, "Y
es, I know very well where your family lives, but I think you moved to America or Australia, no?"
A very petite comment, but deep enough to make me realize that I have moved! Away from my hometown! Model Town Jalandhar is not my home anymore. America is where I live now. Boston is my home!
Day 1000: Somehow, all the friends that I made in Boston leave for personal or professional reasons. One fine day, I call up one of those, tell him how lonely I feel and he says, "
Wait, let me introduce you to an Indian theater group in Boston. You can volunteer in their upcoming shows, will make new friends, it will be fun!"
It took me some time, but today I am one of the core members of the group, can act, dance, organize events, help backstage, and not to mention have made friends for life!
I can act funny, can make the audience cry, can act like a school girl, like a young boy, like a princess and like a king. This past weekend we staged an ancient periodic drama where all the male characters were enacted by females. Now may be the boy and the king reference will make more sense!
Today: Six plus years, yet each season, I look forward to doing my Boston favorites: lying on Revere beach sand to watch the spectacular fireworks at sandcastle festival, taking a stroll along Boston Commons after the Christmas Tree Lighting to witness the magnificence of the city, walking along Beacon Hill on the eve of Halloween to experience the true horror, wandering through Mount Auburn cemetery to see the beautiful fall colors (also a very informative place to look for baby names if you are expecting!)
Day: India in me is springing day by day. I celebrate Holi, Diwali, Garba like I have never celebrated in India. Boston in me is going “strong” as ever. I have yelled
in a cinema hall in India showing
Tiger Zinda Hai
when I saw the protagonist’s son wearing a Boston hoodie. I watch cricket with same interest as a Red Sox game. I enjoy Mike's Cannoli as much as hot gulab jamun. And the perfect blend is Boston Bhangra competition, every year in November that I never miss. Now, even the sound of Bostonian feels like an amalgamation of Boston and Indian!
I have learnt a lot of lessons and made a lot of errors in judgement. I believe three reasons why people like/dislike you are:
1. your personality
So don’t try to overthink or read between the lines. And just for fun, follow Elaine Benes’ (Seinfeld) mantra for success and survival “Cheers to those who wish us well, and those who don’t can go to hell!”
Members interested in submitting a guest column in our newsletter can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
shines SPOTLIGHT on
Dr. Manju Sheth, Physician, Lahey Health; CEO at INE/India New England Multimedia; C
reator – Chai With Manju and New England Choice Awards.
Welcome to IAGB SPOTLIGHT. What’s your life’s journey been so far? Give us an insight into your family and your early years.
I was born in a Sindhi family in New Delhi where I spent all my school years. I later moved to Kolkata and studied at
National Medical college. I met my husband Dipak
in college (he was few years senior to me). He is a Gujrati who was born in Kolkata. We both also consider ourselves honorary Bengalis and speak fluent Bengali language. I also learnt Gujrati and speak fluent Punjabi and Sindhi as well.
We got married after my graduation from medical college and then trained in England and
subsequently moved to USA
. I feel very blessed that my college sweetheart is not only my husband, but my best friend and my rock. His support and complete faith has been
invaluable for me
. We have anadorable daughter Shaleen, who is
20 years old
. She is a Junior at Babson College.
What are some beliefs that are close to your heart?
I am a deeply religious person. I pray a lot and I believe in
Bhakti ki Shakti
. I believe in having faith in the supreme power. Faith channelizes your energy in a positive way. To this day no one in our family leaves the house or sleeps without saying their prayers. I am also a great believer in karma.
What prepared you to be the media personality of India New England?
I am not sure if I am the media personality of New England but whatever I have done has been quite by chance and totally unplanned. I always loved to write. I was also the editor of our school magazine. My writing took a backseat once I joined the medical school and after a long gap I took up writing again ten years ago for local media outlets and the rest just followed. It was perhaps my destiny.
What activities would you highlight including community service in and around New England community that were precursor to your role with India New England (INE)?
I joined Indian Medical Association of New England (IMANE) in 2008. During my tenure with IMANE, I co-chaired Indian Women Physicians Forum after being encouraged by Dr.
who later became a close friend. This was one of my first leadership role in the community. Until then I always was more of a foot soldier, plus my focus was on my then very young daughter so I tried to stay away from leadership roles. In 2009 I Co-chaired a fund raiser for Saheli (an organization that helps in empowering women in leading safe and healthy family life).
Subsequently I was also on the board of Asian Task Force against Domestic Violence. I have also been in Executive Committee and later trustee of IAFPE. I was recognized for my efforts as the New England Woman of the Year in 2011. This was also my introduction to India New England (INE). In the same year I co-chaired Lokvani anniversary gala with Anu Chitrapu who also became a good friend. I was also IMANE president in 2013 which taught me a lot.
I was always interested in the human aspect of success and wondered what made certain individuals successful. This led to my starting a column called
Movers and Shakers
It gave me an opportunity to meet and talk with some of the amazing
such as Dr. Dinesh Patel, Dr. Sanjeev Chopra to name a few from the Indian community. This column became very popular and Upendra Mishra, publisher of INE, then invited me to join India New England News and we came up with an idea to start celebrity interview series called
Chai with Manju
which began in 2012. With God’s grace it has been one of the most popular series in South Asian community of New England.
Dr. Manju Sheth
has become synonymous with events such as – Woman of the Year (WOY), New England Choice Awards (NECA) and of course
Chai with Manju
has your name. What were the efforts behind the branding of your name at INE?
I pride myself on the fact that I am very meticulous with my work and
working in any task I take up; I give more than 100% of myself to it. I am a
. I totally believe in the quote
“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars". I
have had good guidance from our community leaders and from Upendraji from INE.
What other public events you helped start at INE?
I organized the MEGA Health Expo with INE during my term as the president of IMANE. I continued to be at the helm with the expos for couple of years but as my vision for the NECA awards started to crystallize I realized that this huge project needed more attention. NECA has been enormously successful since we started in 2016. I also started a show called Dream Catchers where we showcase our community achievers. Health Talk is a another video series that we created based on important health topics.
Chai with Manju
has brought well know celebrities to Indian American households through your interviews. What is your preparation for interviewing the celebrities?
I love to do lot of research so I can feel that I know the person that I am interviewing already. My goal is that everyone should know the real person behind the celebrity after watching my interview.
Do you watch your own interviews?
Yes, I do but I am always looking for things that I can do better. I am very critical of myself and have an OCD to some extent. I pick the content, will watch zillion videos in YouTube to pick the best intro videos for the Chai interview then sit with the video editor at INE(Malvika) and go over the interview carefully. I do not like some of my earliest interviews, but also realize that I have come a long way. I am always looking to improve and evolve.
Media spotlight can be rewarding as well as harsh at times. How has being in limelight changed you over the years? Also social media has helped build our Indian American Community but it has also been used as a playground to settle some scores. As a media personality what is your take on these issues?
When I first started in this line of work, my husband use to say – I had no skin. I was very sensitive and vulnerable and had a tough time dealing with harsh criticisms, many a times I use to take them hard as some people got very personal. However, slowly but surely, I have evolved, gotten tougher and nowadays I only care about the opinion of people that I respect and my conscience is my best guide. My simple rule is, do the right thing and let your work do the talking.
As for expressing my vulnerabilities especially via social media, I see it as a double edge sword. While one hand it creates its own challenges, I have also seen and heard back from many individuals who strongly identify with me and have had similar experiences. It's okay to feel what you feel and it's okay to express that if it is from your heart. Pretense never gets you far. You have to be true to yourself and brutally honest. People only accept genuine people. No one likes fake people, even on Facebook. Trying to fit inside of anyone else’s image is never a good thing. In today’s world there is an expectation set that a ‘successful woman’ has to be a very strong woman. This can be mis-characterizing because a strong individual can also be vulnerable and niceness does not mean weakness.
What advice would you give to the other women who may choose to tread the same path in future?
One should have an honest conversation with oneself. They should realistically know their strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly you should enjoy whatever you are doing.
What are your future plans and what do you enjoy most about your work?
I use to be a very good planner, but I have realized that life throws at you some challenges that were not part of the plan. So sometimes it is best to take life as it comes. Nowadays I do not plan much except for few important timelines. I have worked on so many forums and organizations and chaired/helped put together hundreds of events over the past ten plus years varying from music shows to political events has made me realize that what I enjoy most is giving a platform for others to shine. My biggest talent is discovering talent in others and showcasing it beautifully. This is very instinctive for me. I get to see wide variety of spectrum of talent through my interviews on Chai with Manju, Dream Catchers, and and getting to know the award nominees and winners at both the WOY and NECA awards so my mind is always working on a format to present talent in the community. I want to showcase what a spectacularly rich and vibrant community we are. This will perhaps be my legacy.
How did the nonprofit organization – INE/India New England Multimedia came into being?
After some years of working with INE, I wanted to start of something new. I have had a lot of experience with nonprofits. Upendraji and I made a good team so we started this nonprofit organization – INE/India New England Multi Media. Through this platform we hosted Health Expo as a service to the community. Since Chai with Manju focused more on the celebrities, under the INE-Multimedia banner we started a new project called
where we presented our superb local talent. The biggest project under this banner has been instituting New England Choice Awards.
How did NECA Awards come into existence?
We had experience of doing successful WOY awards so we thought about creation of a platform to recognize the contributions of a wider diversity of people. The very
first awards honored some of the major New England luminaries such as Desh Deshpande
and Jayshree Deshpande. The categories are well crafted and include opportunity to recognize organizations as well as individuals. This year's list includes the Dean of Harvard Business School, great artists and successful individuals. Our chief guest for the event is Robert Kraft – the owner of New England Patriots. I always work with a small and carefully handpicked team. Anu Chitrapu, Anupendra Sharma, Mandy Pant and Aditi Taylor are in our core team for NECA awards.
Is there a saturation as far as these events (award ceremonies) are considered?
Everybody’s journey is their own and in the end your work will speak for itself. There is room for everyone as our talents and styles are so unique.
You have always said that gratitude is one of your most important core values . Who are you most grateful to in your life ?
There is always a circle of love and good will around you . In recent years , it has to be the most brilliant and kind Orthopedic surgeon at Children’s Hospital . His name is Dr John Emans . He did back surgery on our daughter. I will always owe him so much gratitude because our life got better in every way possible . His work is a gift not just to the kids but also their parents as our first priority in life is always our children.
How do you chill?
I love to read and I am a big fan of masterpiece theater on PBS. When it comes to reading I mostly like British books, especially the mystery genre. Bollywood's music/dance is another favorite and I love binge watching Netflix with Dipak. Cooking is my passion and of course nothing beats spending time with our daughter, Shaleen.
Who are your role models in the community?
Two couples come to my mind instantly. Desh and Jayasree Deshpande; Raj and Nalini Sharma. Both these couples have made enormous contributions in our community and in India. The simplicity and humility of these great achievers makes them perfect role models.
Dr. Manju Sheth is a physician at Lahey Health. She is past president of Indian Medical Association of New England and also serves on the board of Patient care action committee at Harvard Pilgrim. She is the CEO of India New England Multimedia and creator and host of popular celebrity interview series called 'Chai with Manju'. She is also the creator and Co-Producer of 'New England Choice Awards'. She was Woman of the year in 2011 and has been named as 150 most influential women by YWCA of Boston.
IAGB interviewing team:
IAGB GENERAL BODY MEETING 2018
In accordance with the IAGB by-laws (available for review on the IAGB website), we will be holding an annual General Body Meeting (GBM) on
October 13, 2018
Burlington, MA. All valid members are invited to attend the GBM. However, due to space restrictions, we kindly request RSVP. All members should have received the invitation details.
- Overview of the prior year and accomplishments
- Financial overview
- Upcoming activities
- Your feedback on what else/better IAGB can do
VISA CAMP: CONSULATE@YourDoorstep
In working with Consulate of India, NY, IAGB will organize a camp wherein applicants for Indian passports/visa/OCI cards can get their applications pre-approved before submitting to CKGS.
November 3, 2018
To be announced soon
IAGB will once again organize the Antakshari event - bringing it back on popular demand. Prelims will occur in Q4 of 2018. Stay tuned for details. Finale will be held as part of Republic Day 2019.
REPUBLIC DAY MELA 2019
IAGB's annual Republic Day Mela celebrations will be organized on January 26, 2019 at the Burlington High School, Burlington, MA. Details will be published soon.
India Day 2018 was celebrated in the heart of Boston at City Hall Plaza. After a week of thunder storms and pouring rain, magically Sunday August 19th turned into a beautiful late summer New England day with mild temperatures, and almost no humidity. A thin cloud cover and a gentle breeze kept the attendees, participants and volunteers happy and energetic all day long.
Yoga and Meditation kick started the day. Dhanashree Ramachandran led Yoga and Dev Lingadevaru helped with meditation. This was immediately followed by some simple yet interesting field games organized by the IAGB executive board members and this activity caught fire right away. From toddlers to grandmas, and everyone in between gathered together to challenge each other in lemon and spoon race, water balloon toss and a game of musical quadrants.
IAGB Directors Lata Rao and Umesh Rao (no relation) had painstakingly selected and sequenced the cultural program crossing every t and dotting every i and the execution was equally perfect.
The cultural program opened to the beat of Dhols and the jingle of lezim followed by beautiful rendition of American and Indian National Anthems. The pace of the program was kept strong and up beat by dances, songs and instrumentals all through the day. The programming included a wide variety ranging from traditional Indian dance styles, vocals, upbeat dance to bollywood numbers, mime performance and even a surprise flashmob dance.
This year the executive board did not just stay busy with organizing the event from behind the scenes but were out there as participants too entertaining the crowds. The Executive Board got involved with choreographing, dancing and emceeing in various performances/segments. Emceeing was not just announcements of programs but included constant interaction and interactive pop quiz with attendees.
IAGB honored Judge Neil Sherring, and Mr. Girish Mehta by inducting them into New England Hall of Fame for their accomplishments in fields of civic service and community engagement respectively. IAGB also awarded two rising seniors Varun Lingadal and Rianna Mukherjee for Youth Excellence.
Finally, as the curtain call was coming up, the crowd burst into full on dance mode, dancing away to the latest bollywood numbers, a mark of true desi celebration.
Apart from programming the vendor booths, food stalls and even a photo booth designed by Rohini Pola added to the festive atmosphere.
Image 1: Ganesh Davluri
Image 2: Ganesh Davluri
Image 3: Thomas Arul
Image 4: Neil Pandit
Image 5: Neil Pandit
Image 6: Neil Pandit
Image 7: Neil Pandit
Fay School’s Ideas&Insights Speaker Series presents
Sports Psychologist Dr. Richard Ginsburg: “Youth Sports Specialization: What Parents Need to Know”
Monday, October 1 at 7:00 p.m.
23 Middle Road, Southborough
Fay School is delighted to welcome sports psychologist Dr. Richard Ginsburg on Monday, October 1, at 7:00 p.m. for a special presentation about how to navigate the complex world of youth sports specialization. Dr. Ginsburg is the Co-Director of the MGH PACES Institute of Sport Psychology and a faculty member of Harvard Medical School. He has served as a sports psychology consultant for the Harvard Men’s Lacrosse, Women’s Soccer, Men’s and Women’s Water Polo, and Women’s Ice Hockey Teams, as well as the Women’s National Soccer Team. This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required
Classroom Visit Day -
Thursday, October 4, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
54 Main Street, Southborough
Now’s your chance to see Fay School in action! At Classroom Visit Day, you and your child can see Fay School at its best as you tour campus, talk with teachers and lead administrators, and observe students and teachers in action on a typical school day. Classroom Visit Day begins in Fay’s Admission Office. Parking is available behind the Admission Office, accessed via the main entrance at
54 Main Street, Southborough
MIT Bhangra is a competitive bhangra team in Cambridge that has been working to spread Indian culture through dance since 1991. They recently won 2nd place at the 2016 Boston Bhangra Competition, and have been performing locally and around the country since then. They are holding auditions for this year on September 8th and 9th from 12 pm - 2 pm, and would like to invite anyone regardless of age, experience, or school affiliations to join them for a 2-hour workshop! More details can be found
, and any questions can be directed to