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Pulling Back the Curtain: Q&A With Our Assistant Editor

At India Currents, we believe that the most important news stories leave a lasting impact and also elevate local and regional issues to a national platform. 

We’re pulling back the curtain on one such piece, Will My Culture Survive the Pandemic, by conducting a Q&A with the writer and IC Assistant Editor, Srishti Prabha.

VK: How did this story come about?

SP: India Currents is fortunate to collaborate with local, diverse, community organizations. One such organization is SF-based nonprofit, Ethnic Media Services, which aims to inform minority media on issues relevant to them. At one of their media briefings, the topic discussed was Arts and Culture on Life Support Because of COVID-19 and panelists relayed their personal experiences, as artists impacted by the pandemic. I began to reflect on my own connection with my culture and art. Despite not relying on the arts as a source of income, I would be devoid of my identity without art. That is how I began to frame my article. Indians in America grasp at sources for identity and performing arts are the magical bridge that can teleport us to our motherland. 

VK: What was the most surprising discovery you made while reporting it?

SP: The performing arts were the first industry to shut down as a response to COVID and will be the last to reopen. This sounds intuitive and may not be surprising for people to hear, but the sheer breadth of what that means – the economic loss, individuals with no foreseeable income, and possibly, the erasure of culture – is something that wasn’t being addressed in mainstream media. Subsequently, it wasn’t where resources were being allocated. Since the Great Depression, federal funding hasn’t been given to the Arts. I became fixated on the potential loss of minority arts. 

VK: What was the message of your article?

SP: My hope was to reinvigorate interest in minority-run cultural arts, even in those that meander away from the South Asian culture. My article had a three-fold purpose: first, to shed light on South Asian arts and artists that were undergoing a strenuous time; second, to have the reader actualize their relationship with the arts and its connection to cultural identity; and third, I wanted the article to be a poignant reminder for those that take interest in the arts, to sustain it.

VK: Why do you think this article resonated with readers?

SP: One can never be sure of what resonates with a reader, but I write from a place of empathy and advocacy for culture and minority voices. I can only speak to my own experience, as a first-generation Indian American, yet I find cross-cultural narratives on identity humanizes what people consider an “other”. As Americans, we benefit from exposure to multiculturalism and can create inclusive spaces. India Currents facilitates such discourse. I write for the readers – I write for myself. You are all on the journey with me, of self-exploration and pandemic pursuits. 

Reporters like Srishti Prabha work hard on stories like these in order to present the complete picture for our readers. It’s the kind of in-depth reporting that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else—the kind that takes time and money to produce. 

Will you support India Currents and ensure our reporters have the resources they need to do their jobs well? 

Give today and double your investment, before the NewsMatch challenge ends on December 31. 


Vandana Kumar has been the Editor for India Currents and is serving as the Publisher. 

After Twenty Years I Was In India For Holi And I Wished I Was Back In The Bay

Time traveling back to the water balloon exploding streets of childhood: Every Holi I would turn into a general, training my own army in water balloon strategy. Every spring my sons and their friends would be taken to a different local Holi celebration in the Bay Area – Sunnyvale temple, Fremont temple, Asha, RANA.

Strategic use of color ensure a prolonged victory. As the day progresses only traces of color remain in the little plastic pouches in the hand. Wily teenagers “borrow” color from little ones who clutch, rather than use their color stash. While adults strategize on conquering the food line, my boys and I unroll our holi war strategy. Hapless individuals who could be gheraoed and smothered with color are targeted. Spotless entrants into the field of war are the most fun to color. Using the victim’s powder to color them is a flag signaling ultimate victory.

One year a teenage girl approached a 4-year-old lieutenant, “Can I have some color?” she asked while her friends looked on hopefully. “Sure,” said my warrior, “Here you go!” as a cloud of red green and yellow rose around her. He made me proud.

Compare this to Holi in India: deserted streets, girls cowering inside, and children on a nearby balcony with a tub full of water balloons waiting in vain for a hapless victim. Bay Area holi celebrations promise an explosive street party with blasts of music, color-intoxicated dancers, food, and laughter. Twenty years ago as we left the Holi grounds and rolled into the nearest Burger King quizzical stares from customers followed us. Now when they see green, yellow, red and blue faces framed in car windows, the other cars on the road roll down their windows and shout “Holi !!” and nod their heads excitedly..

Featured Image by Snap Yourself! Photo Booth 2015

Ritu Marwah is the features editor at India Currents magazine. Her love for Holi is matched by her enthusiasm for life.