Tag Archives: Indians for Collective Action

Indian Led Bay Area Nonprofits Respond

The world as we knew it a few weeks ago has been turned on its head by the invasion of the alien virus we call COVID-19.  Normal activity has ceased over much of our globe; for a very large majority, being told to stay in place where they are and off the streets is tantamount to taking away their livelihood – it’s a sentence to starve. Many of our elderly need help to obtain food, medicine, and other essentials. The emotional impact has spared no one.  Mother Earth, it seems, has stopped processing, stopped spinning, and stopped orbiting; she is free-falling through space, trying to escape the bonds of gravity.

In any crisis, our humanity and community spirit take over. People jump in to help in any way they can.  Inventing new and creative solutions. Checking on each other. Making masks. Generating optimism and goodwill. Showing gratitude by banging pots and pans and cheering on the frontline medical workers as they put their own lives on the line to try and save others. Three Bay Area nonprofits exemplify this spirit. 

Sukham is an all-volunteer organization that advocates for healthy aging, living well and being prepared for life’s transitions in the Bay Area.  Under the leadership of one of its members Saroj Pathak, Sukham is pairing seniors with a younger volunteer living in the same area who could assist in shopping for groceries, picking up medicines or run other essential errands on a mutually agreed-upon schedule. They can also be that friendly voice that calls up to check in and say hello. If you or someon you know could use this service, inform Sukham or send them an email to sukhaminfo@gmail.com. Provide the name, address and phone number of the senior citizen needing assistance.

The Hindu Community Institute (HCI)  is a service-learning organization dedicated to serving the community by integrating contemporary knowledge, technologies and Hindu wisdom and traditions. Under the banner “Community for Immunity,” HCI – led by Board member Gaurav Rastogi – is now offering free daily online sessions for yoga and meditation via Zoom.  If social distancing is getting you down, or you are struggling to deal with self-isolation, do try out these sessions led by seasoned practitioners. Register at https://www.hinduci.org/online-yoga.  Special yoga sessions catering to seniors and kids are also available.

On a more somber note, HCI has prepared a Hindu last rites process checklist to assist those dealing with a death in the family to handle all the formalities in the current COVID-19 environment. They also offer families the option of talking to knowledgeable individuals who can offer guidance and counsel in their time of loss.  The checklist, as well as contact information for counselors, can be found at  https://www.hinduci.org/last-rites.

Indians for Collective Action (ICA) is a Bay Area nonprofit founded in 1968  to support sustainable development in India by partnering with dedicated non-government organizations (NGO’s) and individuals.  A core mission of ICA has been to help victims of natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and drought. Now, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, ICA has organized the Forum initiative, a webinar and video-conference series that connects and enables nonprofits, partners, and interested individuals in India and the US to exchange ideas and share best practices as they bring help to India during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Forum is moderated by ICA’s Dr. Anju Sahay who can be reached at anjusahay@gmail.com. In the first webinar late last month, Snehalaya shared their approach to mobilize and distribute food and supplies to the needy slum dwellers and their plan to distribute food packages to 45000 people. Other projects being prioritized by ICA are listed on their website: https://icaonline.org/donation-for-covid-19/. The next webinar with other project leaders sharing their approach to fight COVID-19 is on April 17. 

Let’s support each other and do all we can. Together we can – and will – put these dark days behind us!

Mukund Acharya is a co-founder of Sukham, an all-volunteer non-profit organization in the Bay Area established to advocate for healthy aging within the South Asian community. 

Indians Take Collective Action

In a Gentle Way, You Can Shake the World — Gandhi

Prakash Jha works as an engineer at a Silicon Valley startup. He came here from a small village in Bihar, where students still walk miles to get to school. His father has turned blind with diabetes. Prakash wants to help not just his family but also his village. Caught in 14-hour-work days, he cannot himself open a school in India. He wants to give the children of his village the same chance for a better life that he has had.

Kalki has been traveling from United States to India with her parents since she was little. She has seen young children begging at traffic spots. A blessing by a beggar woman, “May God give you sons” leads to a transformative moment. “How terrible is it being a girl in India?” asked the ten-year-old. When she was twenty-five, Kalki and her friends set up a non-profit to take back underage girls from sex slavery.

Prakash has found the answer. If he can’t go to India himself, he can empower individuals and organizations who are working in the field and help them succeed. He looks for and finds a non-profit he can support with the help of Indians for Collective Action (ICA), the same organization that helps social entrepreneurs like Kalki.

Indians for Collective Action (ICA), a non-profit that would allow donors like Prakash and social entrepreneurs like Kalki to partner, was formed over fifty years ago. In 1965, Berkeley students along with their Professor P.K. Mehta, got together with the aim to aid India’s rapid economic advancement. At about the same time, professionals working in San Francisco, like Mahendra Mehta, were thinking along the same lines. The two groups got together to form ICA.

Over the last four decades, ICA has helped fund over 30 organizations with upwards of 8 million dollars impacting 10 million lives.

Going forward, in the new global world, ICA wants to nurture cross-fertilization of ideas amongst social entrepreneurs in the US and India. This interaction will help social entrepreneurs across the globe share solutions to social problems like homelessness and education.

“Additionally, high net-worth donors, both in the US and India, can leverage ICA’s network to achieve their social impact goals. We can all work together to make the world a better place,” says Reshma Nigam, the President of ICA and CEO and Founder of Markable Solutions.

Celebrations of its 50th anniversary are dedicated to this meeting of the minds. A Conference and Expo for NGOs in India and the US is giving them an opportunity to make new connections with donors, volunteers and sister organizations. On October 20th, leading social entrepreneurs of India, including Anand Kumar of Super30, Suhani Jalota of the Myna Mahila Foundation, Dr. Anagha and Dr. Digant Amte of Lok Biradari Prakalp, will share the stage with prestigious Ashoka fellows Hasina Kharbhih and Victoria Hale, as well as Padmashree awardees Janak Palta McGilligan and Dr. Pankaj Shah.

Radha Basu, BV Jagdeesh, Suresh Bazaj, Talat Hasan and Maya Vishwakarma, among others, will be representing the bay area.

“ICA gives people an opportunity to select from carefully vetted Indian charities to fund and to volunteer. Passion to serve, love and care is nurtured,” says Abhay Bhushan, Vice President of ICA

Reshma Nigam, President of ICA

The Golden Jubilee conference event on October 20th is at Santa Clara Convention Center. Bring your children to this worthwhile event. The conference opens at 12:30 p.m. with a keynote from Ramon Magsaysay Award winner Dr. Bharat Vatwani. It ends with a keynote by Padma Shri recipient Janak Palta McGilligan. The gala dinner is from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Recognized for their work will be Lata Krishnan of America India Foundation, Girish Kulkarni of Snehalaya and Naginbhai Jagada of Arpan Foundation.

Click here for The agenda of the conference.

Ritu Marwah is a Business Executive who writes for India Currents.

This article is edited by Geetika Pathania Jain.

Also read