A Thirtieth Birthday Celebration!
A Thirtieth Birthday Celebration!

The immigrant experience is a transformative one that binds person with place wherein a hyphenated identity emerges. Like the narrative arc in a novel, there is a personal map in the mind that one can recall at will: the initial days of isolation, and displacement, to acceptance, and a sure sense of self.

It is marked by a story of personal growth and transformation where the unfamiliar becomes familiar; where the fragments of being, though disparate and riddled with contradictions, fuse into a wholeness that starts to make sense within. Through this period of personal transformation, the shared written word builds a sense of identity.

When words jump from a page and resonate with a sense of clarity in a way that is sometimes startling, meaning is born. When ideas jump from that same page helping coalesce loose strands of thought in one’s mind, meaning is again born. Looking at words and seeing a part of oneself reflected in them is a process that is most magical.

When clarity is achieved on a page, the page is akin to a clear pool that helps the reader stare at his or her own reflection. Guided by words, the reflection that flutters upward from the page is an authentic one. Authentic words reveal the radiance and the dullness; the worry lines intersecting with the upward smile and show the years lived along with the gaze into the future. Our pages reveal the warts, the pimples and the rosy cheeks of our entire community.

When India Currents was born in 1987, Indian restaurants did not dot the length and breadth of Artesia and El Camino Real. Bollywood shows were not held in sold-out 1000-seat theaters. The Indian Prime Minister did not speak at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

The community was small then, but the desire to connect was palpable and real. In the early years, there was a desire that drove the founders—Vandana Kumar, Arvind Kumar and Ashok Jethanandani—a desire to publicize Indian cultural events. India Currents started with an 8-page broadsheet and has since grown in size and scope, fueled by the growth of the community over three decades. As a community magazine, our pages have chronicled the weaknesses, strengths, and challenges faced by Indian-Americans.

We have always strived hard to be the collective conscience of the community.  Indeed, this is our singular accomplishment. It was just as important to praise the Indian-American work ethic, as it was to censure their apathy. We chronicled the tech revolution while revealing the domestic abuse that happened within our homes. Our pages chronicled the concerns of elderly parents and youngsters caught in the cross-currents of two cultures.

The most powerful words that have graced our pages have always involved our empathy for questions of identity. And, perhaps serendipitously, Kalpana Mohan will be starting a new column this month with the tagline—The Brown View, delving into issues of brownness, a brownness that is being thrust into the spotlight now.

Our proudest accomplishment is not the fact that our readership has grown to over 200, 000, but that we have never compromised on editorial integrity. We have consistently been recognized for excellence over the years. In fact, most recently, under the helm of Jaya Padmanabhan, India Currents won awards for overall excellence for the past three years in a row.

We have received our share of hate mail just as we have received bouquets, but the quest for truth has always remained at the core. We express editorial opinions, but have never hesitated to carry a viewpoint that is totally contrary to ours. After all, it is this diversity of opinion and thought that have shaped America, and in our own way, we aim to be a microcosm of everything that this great country stands for.

So, as we blow out the birthday candles, we are poised to look inward and onward with you!

Nirupama Vaidhyanathan is a multifaceted artist - a dancer, writer, storyteller, and educator. She founded the Sankalpa School of dance, where she trains the next generation of committed dancers to pursue...