This past year was challenging for us – adapting to changes with our medium of storytelling, turnover of the editorial staff, and limited resources for our nonprofit media company. This is not unheard of in our industry – and yet we push forth!
Because we must. Because of the desire to tell our stories. Because of our many willing collaborators. Because of our readers. Because our voices MUST be heard!
As I reviewed the articles we had curated in 2019 I realized that, despite the challenges, we were able to produce insightful and meaningful stories. My work and the work of countless others was validated as I saw the results of the San Francisco Press Club Awards 2020.
Jaya Padmanabhan, former IC Editor, wrote this on social media:
And my favorite magazine India Currents and dear friends Vandana Kumar, Meera Kymal and Nirupama Vaidhyanathan among a whole host of other writers (Sarita Sarvate) have walked off once again with well-deserved awards this year.
Vandana Kumar once told me years ago, “we’re like the little engine that could” at these award ceremonies, competing against Goliaths like Bloomberg, the Chronicle, and Examiner. Every year, every single year, IC and its little engine does us proud! So happy!
A huge shout out to the writers who choose to share their voices on our platform. Thank you!!
The San Francisco Press Club’s Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards ceremony and dinner honor the outstanding work of Bay Area print, TV, radio, and digital media journalists, graphic designers, and photographers, as well as the work of documentary filmmakers and PR materials from nonprofits and corporations. The annual event is usually held in November but was hosted online this year. Find the video below!
Twenty two India Heritage award winners displayed plentiful talents with their stage performances and academic excellence at the 32nd India Heritage Awards event held on Sunday, April 1, 2018 at Cerritos Sheraton Hotel, Cerritos. Eight of the high and middle school scholarship winners showed their excellence in dance or music by solo performances. The spell-bound audience gave repeated thunderous and sustained applause to encourage the young performers. The very entertaining cultural program was emceed by Vasu Pawar and well known community leader Dilip Butani.
Versha Nair of Rancho Santa Margarita won the top award of $2500 and revolving trophy in the high school category. The scholarship award has been instituted by Sanjiv & Rajesh Chopra in memory of their parents Sarla & Kishan Gopal Chopra. Ashok Madan and his wife Manju presented the revolving trophy “Profiles in Excellence” instituted in memory of Ashok’s parents, Thakar Singh and Shanti Rani Madan. The second-place winner was Titash Biswas while the third-place winner was Bala Thenappan. The next seven winners were Suraj Srivats, Soumya Ravichandran, Sumedha Attanti, Amogha Koka, Sriram Kotta, Siddartha Sen, and Anvitha Soordelu. Interestingly, most of the winners were females.
Rhea Jethvani won the top award in the Middle school category. The award and revolving trophy has been instituted in memory of long time event sponsor Dr. Awtar Singh by his niece, Sonia Batra of Beverly Hills. The second-place winner was Debdeep Bandyopadhyay while the third-place winner was Abheerava Koka. The next five winners were Saachi Pavani, Deeksha Kasula, Komal Kaur, Monica Pal, and Saadhvi Narayanan. Harshini Mohan and Monica Palwon the Visual and Performing Arts awards instituted in honor of “Teachers, parents and family.”
Titash Biswas , second place winner in high school category, also won Outstanding Achievement Award and revolving trophy in Visual & Performing Arts funded by Uka Solanki in memory of his mother Kadviben. Fourth place winner Suraj Srivats shared Outstanding Achievement Award and revolving trophy in sports with Karishma Muthukumar. The award and trophy are funded by Jagdish Khangura in memory of his wife Rajinder Khangura. Fifth place winner Soumya Ravichandran shared Outstanding Achievement Award and revolving trophy in community service with Madhulika Shastry. The award and trophy is funded by Satpal Jandial in memory of his parents, Mani Ram and Gian Dai. Nitya Parthasarathy won Outstanding Achievement Award and revolving trophy in Math, Science and Technology instituted by Dr. Mani Bhaumik in recognition of the “most important numeral ZERO invented in India.”
The keynote speech was delivered by Deepi Singh, who, in India, was head, Foods and Nutrition department in Home Science College, Chandigarh, and in USA had held the position of director Food services in Kaiser hospital, Panorama city. In her speech she emphasized that one must have courage and determination to succeed in life. If someone has a handicap, he/she can conquer it with hard work, sincerity and will power. She did not let her handicap stand in her getting higher education or attaining other goals. She advised, “Make your handicap your strength.”
The Indian American Heritage Foundation has been recognizing the achievements of Indian Youth, graduating from High and Middle Schools in Southern California for the past 32 years. The Foundation is the leading Indian American organization to publicly recognize, reward and celebrate excellence of the community’s best and brightest graduating students in Southern California.
The Foundation started with eight scholarship awards in 1987, now gives twenty-four scholarships annually. The annual event has been made possible with the support of some well-meaning people from the community including Bhupinder Mac, Sanjiv & Renu Chopra, Dr. M.L. Bhaumik, BU Patel, Sonia Batra, Ashok & Manju Madan, Satpal Jandial, Bhupesh Parikh, Bob (Harbans) Bawa, Jagdish Khangura, VJ & Simi Singh, Dr. Satinder and Ranjit Bhatia, Dr. Asmath Noor, Uma-Avadesh Agarwal, Dr. M.C Gupta, Commerca Bank (Sangita Chauhan), Harbhajan Samra and Arun Bhumitra. Some of the sponsors present at the event included, Uka Solanki, V. J Singh, Bhupesh Parikh, Dr. M.C Gupta, Dr. Asmath Noor, and Harbhajan Samra. One by one, the sponsors were called upon to present the award check to the young winners.
Inder Singh, in welcoming the attendees, appreciated the support by the sponsors who provided necessary funding for the continuity of the awards program. He also thanked the judges who undertook the grueling task of evaluating the applicants, and praised his “working crew” — team of volunteers — who worked hard to make the event a success. He said, “An individual, howsoever brilliant, intelligent and smart, would find it difficult, if not impossible to match the collaborative efforts of an effective team and he is blessed with a team which has been providing selfless service for the cause of our youth.” His team included Ashok Madan, Kewal Kanda, Aparna Hande, Amrit Bhandari, Dilip Butani, Deepi Singh, Prof Keshav Patel, Manju Madan, Navin Gupta, Rajinder Dhunna, Simi Singh, Vasu Pawer, and V.J Singh.
Nishka Ayyar was named Daily Point of Light Award Number 6213 by Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service. Nishka Ayyar received this recognition for her ongoing commitment to working with elderly seniors and promoting inter-generational connections between youth and seniors in her community.
Music Buddies is a student run volunteer initiative founded by Nishka Ayyar of Saratoga, CA. Inspired by the relationship she shared with her own grandparents and their positive influence in her life, Nishka started Music Buddies to bring companionship and joy in the lives of elderly people who live alone or in senior communities, separated from their families. Her organization enlists student performers from middle and high schools across the Bay Area and puts together fun weekend entertainment programs for the senior citizens. The program typically runs for about an hour and includes music, dance, stand- up comedy etc.
“I am delighted to receive this award and honor. I feel very fortunate to live in a community where volunteerism and service are highly valued and many parents and kids participate enthusiastically. The Music Buddies experience reinforces my belief that by bringing our oldest and youngest citizens together, we can mitigate many social isolation issues of both the seniors and the youth alike, and build healthy and happy communities everywhere.”
Daily Point of Light Awards are given five days a week in the United States and the United Kingdom to honor individuals and groups creating meaningful change to meet community needs; efforts which often lead to long-term solutions and impact social problems in their local communities. President George H. W. Bush was the first president in American history to institute a daily presidential recognition program from the White House, conferring 1,020 Daily Point of Light Awards on citizens and organizations making a big difference in other people’s lives and solving community problems. Points of Light continues the recognition and honorees receive a signed certificate from President Bush. The 5000th award was presented at a special ceremony at the White House with President Barack Obama and President George H. W. Bush co-presenting. The nonpartisan award was adopted by former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron in 2014, and the tradition has continued with his successor Theresa May. More than 6,500 Daily Point of Light Award recipients have been recognized in the United States and the United Kingdom.
“The Daily Point of Light Award recognizes exceptional individuals who are using their time, talent, voice and treasure to improve the lives of others,” said Jaqueline Innocent, Vice President, Recognition Programs of Points of Light. “These points of light, like Nishka Ayyar, make an impact on individuals while also helping build resilient communities.”
“We have a lot of requests from senior centers all over the San Francisco Bay Area and we are constantly looking for student performers to join us. We invite student performers from all over the Bay Area who are interested in participating, to join and help us celebrate our senior citizens and bring joy in their lives through these interactions and performances. Interested performers can join by submitting the student performers form on the website.”
To learn more about Nishka Ayyar’s work, visit www.musicbuddies.org or write to email@example.com.
About Points of Light
Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, mobilizes millions of people to take action that is changing the world. Through affiliates in 250 cities and partnerships with thousands of nonprofits and corporations, Points of Light engages four million volunteers in 30 million hours of service each year. We bring the power of people where it’s needed most. For more information, visit www.pointsoflight.org
It’s Grammys-time again and as has been for a few years now, there are a few desi names on the nominee list:
Best Dance Recording,
Dance/ Electronic Music Field
“Don’t Let Me Down”—The Chainsmokers featuring Daya
It would be hard to miss or not notice the edgy “Don’t Let Me Down, down, down” song when you turn on your local hit-music radio station. Well you’re in for a surprise: that edgy voice belongs to Grace Tandon, who goes by her middle name Daya. Daya means “mercy” in Hindi, and she probably got the name, in part, because her grandfather is of Indian origin.
Daya’s start in music was unintentional; her first piano lessons were at age three, and she started only because her older sister Rachel insisted on taking her along to her lessons. Her involvement in music was constant, and she has just graduated from high school last year. In a recent interview she shared that she got on a plane the day after her prom to record her first extended play. Her hit track “Hide Away” was a part of that extended play. One version of how she got together with The Chainsmokers is that they had reached out to her after they heard, “Hide Away.”
Daya believes it’s important to write her own songs because then the music is truly, “authentic.” One of the videos starts with a few DADDs, Dads Against Daughters Dating, with Daya belting out,
“Boys seem to like girls who laugh at anything,
The ones who get undressed before the second date,
Girls seem to like the boys who don’t appreciate,
All the money and the time that it takes, To be fly as a mother.”
Daya is multi-talented; she also plays the guitar, saxophone, ukulele, and flute.
“Sing your song with ease and pride,
I’ll be there not far behind,
Find the kind heart, rest your feet and soul,
May your kind heart find the land of gold.”
Beginning with compelling sitar playing to stark words sung by Alev Lenz, Land of Gold gives voice and stirring sound to the international refugee crisis. Speaking of its making, Anoushka said in an interview, “My experience was that of a human being viewing the world. I think becoming a parent has made me feel impacted by what’s going on in the world around me. It makes one so much more vulnerable to things—having children. And so it just feels like I can’t hide from what I imagine other parents must be going through. That was kind of the central impetus for making this album.” Alev Lenz is a London-based German artist born to a Turkish mother.
Sing Me Home—Yo-Yo Ma & The Silk Road Ensemble
Their website says, “Silk Road has been guided by two principles: that we cannot afford not to know our neighbors, and that music can help us connect.” World renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma was inspired to found this ensemble by the historic Silk Road that connected Asia with Europe through trade routes
Affiliated with Harvard University since 2005, The Silk Road Project is made up of artists from more than 20 countries (including Grammy-nominated Sandeep Das from the Benaras gharana) and the group has produced six albums. Sing Me Home is a collection that explores “the ever-changing idea of home,” and includes pieces by Ustad Shujaat Khan on the sitar and singer Sarah Jarosz. Incidentally, Jarosz’s album Undercurrent is a Grammy-nominee in another category.
Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical (Production, Non-Classical Field)
Undercurrent—Shani Gandhi & Gary Paczosa, engineers; Paul Blakemore, mastering engineer (Sarah Jarosz)
Gandhi is a rare breed among music engineers, there aren’t too many women mixing sound. A music engineer is tasked with making sure the sound of the music—instruments, vocals, effects sound the best that it can. Gandhi has been described as superlative at her work by both Paczosa and Jarosz, among other artists. n
The Grammys award ceremony will be televised by CBS on February 12, 2017 from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Priya Das is an enthusiastic follower of world music, and avidly tracks inbtersecting points between folk, classical, jazz and other genres.
Over the last few decades, slokas, bhajans, and ghazals, even tabla and mridangam bols and kannakols (enunciated beats), instead of being practiced by the learned few Indians, have become a global interpretive art, finding a spot in trance, jazz, new age, world music, and Hollywood, of course.
This inclusion has led to growing recognition of the music and musicians. And so it is, that David Vito Gregoli and Mala Ganguly’s Mahadeva has been nominated for The Hollywood Music In Media Awards® (HMMA) in the World music genre. The HMMA recognizes and honors the music of visual mediums (film, TV, movie trailers, video games, commercials, etc.); the talented individuals responsible for creating, producing and placing it; and the music of artists, both mainstream and independent, from around the globe.
The winners will be announced in November 2015.
You will have heard Ganguly’s voice in movies such as Eat Pray Love, Mission Impossible 4, An American Affair, and The Man from Elysian Field. And also perhaps, from recordings such as Prana and Bhajan (Re)Beats, of which Mahadeva is a part.
“It was yog (preordained) that I live in the United States,” Ganguly reminisces. “I came to learn from Ustad Ali Akbar Khan in the 80s. I was in the middle of a talented pool of people-my bar was high, since Kolkata in those days was the hub of all music activity. I performed a few times here and was inspired by the appreciation and respect I received. The Sengupta family of Covina was generous enough to host me. So I just stayed!”
Ganguly’s mom was a gifted singer herself, so her childhood was spent receiving classical training in music and the performing arts. By 12, Ganguly was already singing on the radio and performing at concerts; as well as dabbling in dancing and acting.
Around that time, she was offered a role in the Bengali movie Parineeta, but it was time to make a choice about where to focus her energies; music was it. The famous film director Hemant Kumar chose her as the playback singer for many of his Bengali movies, such as Bandhan, which was later made in Hindi as well.
Ganguly is well-versed in many genres-ghazals, classical, Rabindra Sangeet, Nazrul Geeti, etc. This talent and her voice wins over skeptics, “The L.A. Punjabi audiences at first rejected a Bengali singer, ‘Bengalis cannot possibly correctly pronounce Urdu words!’-but then, the first event lasted for hours, ending at 4 a.m. the next day.” For Ganguly, that was an omen of the trajectory her career would take. “I never had a business card, [still] the invitations were endless, just through word of mouth. I am grateful to supporters such as the late Ranjan Guha, a family friend.”
Ganguly expanded her repertoire by singing for Anjani Ambegaonkar’s Kathak ensembles, which took her, over the next three decades, to prestigious stages such as at the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival, the Hollywood Bowl, and New York’s Lincoln Center.
In 1995, she was approached by Ustad Zakir Hussain for lending her voice to a film called Saaz. Many will remember that the movie was about music and musicians.
However, Ganguly had green card issues and had to decline. That same year, she found herself doing a Nike commercial during the basketball season. The commercial won an award and her relationship with mainstream U.S. media was cemented.
There were other commercials such as with Ameritrade and eBay, her voice was cast in Hollywood movies, the first being Hallmark’s Christmas Box, which was aired repeatedly. She was also approached by other musicians to collaborate on recordings, such as Gregoli. Gregoli is a multi-instrumentalist with a deep connection to Asian spirituality, as is evidenced in the name of his recording label “Dharmapala” (keeper of dharma or true way of life).
Ganguly is also a spiritual person, elaborating that “Music is my strength, my inspiration. I worship Lata Mangeshkar, Mehdi Hassan, Pratima Bannerji, Ustad Amir Khan … When Ustad Ali Akbar Khan used to perform, he would be one with God. That is what I seek, too, that caliber is what I hold as my goal.” Her current projects include forming and creating music for a fusion band called Butterflies, which she has “dreamed of for many years.”
Incidentally, Ganguly is also a visual artist, the album cover art for Bhajan Rebeats/ Mahadeva was designed by her.
Priya Das is an enthusiastic follower of world music and avidly tracks intersecting points between folk, classical, jazz and other genres.