Saturday, July 11, 2009

Associations

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com


A group of people with common ideas or aspirations form associations. We have 100’s or 1000’s of associations of Indian origin in the USA, and all of them successfully funded by the associates. We have several decades of history with Indian associations in the USA and most of the older ones have been quite purposeful in their activities.

As it happens with most successful enterprises each of our historical associations have helped fund temples, medical and educational organizations and multitude of wonderful non-for-profit enterprises with generosity and genuine goodness.

The bigger associations also have annual or semi-annual gatherings on a very grand scale that showcases the wealth factor of the NRI community, and draw thousands of like minded families to be together for a few days. They spend vast amount of resources for collective show of camaraderie of their associations, and make these gathering very successful in size and showmanship. As the years go by they have become more then just gatherings of like minded people, and have drawn large scale business, religion, literature, entertainment, food, social and time pass activities, marriages, dating and meeting and political connotations to the gatherings.

I for one enjoy the entertainment and food at these events. They are at most times fantastic in their appeal and cost is included in the ticket pricing. They are great value to the event goers. These shows also bring a lot of comedy and humor and the audience genuinely seem to be involved and entertained. The audience doesn’t really worry too much about the stature of the person entertaining them, but enjoy what is presented to them. Even the local singers and dancers who perform in any of these shows along with local associations are appreciated for their performances. It is great fun to see someone sing or dance or do a skit in your own language while you watch with thousand odd folks you associate with.

These gatherings are also great occasions to be with relatives and friends for a couple of days and relish the entertainment and food, along with the company of near and dear ones. A lot of people are from same town, same college and same caste and same sects, along with many similar affiliations which bring them together and bind them together. This is a natural way of life for Indians and people of our state. It’s nice to be with your own folks, and it is historically natural behavior.

Many of the original associations have become enormous in size and have split into multiple associations further identifying either ideological perspective or intergroup associations based on people’s preferences of who they would like to be with. There is nothing extraordinary about this type of separation when people of various perspective identifying with only a part of the larger association and define their own associates. It a natural behavioral progression of people in our society to group with their own kind as it satisfies personal and ideological tendencies that are a part of our make.

When separation happens it is difficult to the associates as they are being segregated from their long term likings and relationships. Their new association is desirable due to the choices they have made, and the old associates become distant in communication and perspective. Natural disagreements while separating become issues of debate and start to create community tensions. Each one of us have at least a few family members and friends and when we gather with them it is 100% agreement on that the other group is the one at fault for whatever they have done to cause the commotion. Once the groups of people start to justify what they are doing is correct, it becomes difficult to see the point of view of the other group of people they just separated from.

With each of the newly created associations we are simply reiterating the principals of what we did with the original associations; their principals and traditions, the values of our people, food and entertainment and above all our oneness. We form new associations and restate our commitment to our people, culture, traditions and working for social causes. We redraft the articles of association; we develop new literature and new communications for a smaller group of people. As travel is cheap, availability of celebrities and politicians abundant and disposable income to pay for the extravagances, it is simple to put together an event for a few thousand people.

Only the negatives of the splits with each community are given prominence in discussions and coverage, and nothing notable gets publicized on accomplishments of the associates. The greater good of big and small associations gets very small print and the differences a great deal of mileage. The people who come as guests from India be it political or other leaders have no sense of the way of life outside of India and will make utterances that are for their Indian audiences, which cause emotional responses from the local folks who paid for witnessing these inappropriate utterances, and fuel the feelings of decent and normally well behaved citizens who are leaders in their community and businesses.

We like having people from India come and speak to us and entertain us in the USA, and they like to speak to us as they are doing to the public in India. It is ironic that no specific and organized effort from the state or central government in India offers benefits to the causes of NRI. We have no offices that can handle the death, unemployment, resettlement and facilities that are without difficulties beyond comprehension, and yet we feel that a single unplanned discussion with personal comments with a visiting politician or entertainer should be given our personal support. Any outburst to such comments is an emotional reaction to the moment when we are in a large group of people rather then our normal daily behavior. We live here and have lived here for a long time and with our own community of people and prospered away from politics and personal prejudices of the current crop of people who come to see us and speak to us. We will sometimes get emotional when we hear inappropriate words from a stranger who might be making self-preserving comments. This should not be a cause for alarm as when we walk out such gatherings we will go back to being civil and professional, and live normal NRI lives worrying about our life and living and families and friends.

The associations we have today will continue to multiple and will continue to foster as long as the associates are willing to fund the activities and entertainers. All for being together with our own people and for a few days every year be in a gathering that is paid for by our checkbooks and with each year become grander in scale, and when they get large enough split into new associations. God bless all of them as they belong to us.

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