ICA celebrated its 51st year with its annual event on December 10, 2019 at Villa Ragusa in Campbell with a successful conference and banquet. More than 200 people participated in the event, the energy and enthusiasm generated was an unforgettable experience for all.

event.jpgClick here to see photos and videos of the event

Reshma Nigam, President of ICA welcomed the gathering and introduced the theme of the event, "How to Be An Agent of Change. She encouraged the audience to participate in the conference and listen to the inspirational speakers and decide to be the change you want to see in the world, either by starting or reenergizing your efforts. The engaging conference and inspiring speeches from the visiting luminaries made the evening memorable.

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Marco Mohlenhoff, SJSU

ICA sponsored its first local charity, Spartan Food Pantry of San Jose State University which works to alleviate student hunger. San Jose State University representative Marco Mohlenhoff spoke on behalf of SJSU and received a donation of $10,000 from ICA President, Reshma Nigam.

The SJSU food pantry served 10,000 students since March 2019, and 8000 students in the fall semester alone. They partner with the Second Harvest Food Bank.

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Women's Leadership Chair, Lata Patil, crafted the conference model to be participatory in the form of roundtable discussions. Join the Conversation was the objective of the conference and the goal was to engage the audience, increase their philanthropic aspirations, invite the audience to play an active part in shaping ICAs future objectives, and offer a channel to promote social development in India.

The sessions were structured around 4 broad focus areas of ICA - Education, Environment, Health and Womens Empowerment and participants were directed to choose their areas of interest.  Three social entrepreneurs - Vinayak Lohani, founder of Parivaar, Dr. Anagha Amte of Lok Biradari Prakalp and Satyajit Bhatkal, founder of Paani Foundation also participated in the roundtable discussions and related accounts of their own challenges and successes.

The three NGO leaders present were asked what they expected from the Indian diaspora. Some of the topics of discussion included

  • water crisis facing Indian cities
  • reflecting on the work of the NGOs
  • what is real empowerment of women
  • using technology to solve some of critical problems
  • questioning the credibility of the many laws and projects currently in place

In the Education panel, attendees were already involved in education, supporting or engaged in, for example, AIM for Seva, FEA, Asha for Education.

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Participants said that education is the key to breaking class barriers and a path for overcoming economic inequality and for providing social mobility.

Other participants said there was not sufficient emphasis in the US or India on education for elders and on education for girls. On the latter point, Vinayak Lohani said the Right to Education law greatly expanded the access to education for girls, but only at the primary school level.

Underscoring the impact of education, a participant commented that a $200 investment in a young adults education doubles their income. An ICA-supported program, (Ruchika), teaches kids on railway platforms. ICA role was acknowledged for how it keeps young NGOs from reinventing the wheel by connecting new organizations with established ones.

At the Environment panel, it was emphasized that the cost-benefit of changing behaviors must be clearly defined, because unless this is done, people will continue doing what theyre doing.

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Baby steps for concrete actions should be taken with like-minded NGOs and government help to research and eradicate these environment related issues using technology from the Indian diaspora. The results must be measured. Sources of help such as the Bajaj Foundation and Corporate Social Responsibility Funding were named.

At the Womens Initiative session, the essential involvement of men was emphasized. Empowering women is important, and you also have to educate men so women have supportive partners.

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The discussion at the Womens panel started with trying to understand the roots of gender inequality and the diverse approaches to empowerment. Dr Anagha Amte gave an inspiring talk, sharing her own experience. If our goal is to ensure an exponential change for women s future in India, she cautioned, there is a need for a sustained approach to supporting NGO activities including collaborating among organizations, even in the face of collective challenges.

Discussions touched on the Sabarimala lawsuit and the grave danger the two women activists were in following their efforts.

Session chair Lata Patil said, Feminism is not about leaving men behind, its about equity. Its up to all of us especially mothers of boys to not teach boys to grow up thinking they are entitled and grow up with unrealistic expectations.

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Honorees, SJSU, Lohani and Bhatkal

The 2nd half of the event was held over dinner, where ICA founder P.K. Mehta was remembered with affection, respect and gratitude by Dr. Girish Vyas.

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Attendees then heard from two leaders from India honored by ICA, Vinayak Lohani and Satyajit Bhatkal.

Vinayak Lohani started his first school, the Parivaar Foundation with three children.

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Parivaar now has over 2000 resident children in West Bengal and about 10,000 day students in Madhya Pradesh in hundreds of schools. MP had the highest percent of malnourished children in India, in some cases 8% higher than in sub-Saharan Africa. Inspired by the humanistic ideals of Swami Vivekananda, he remarked, that if we remain pure and serviceful, we become an instrument of the divine. In response to a question about legal guardianship of the children who are at Parivaars schools, Lohani referred to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) and Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

Satyajit Bhatkal of Paani Foundation said the problem they are solving is not the problem of water, it is a problem of social unity.

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In India there is no problem that has not been solved: it has just not been solved to scale. He gave an example from the highly popular television show he directed, Satyamev Jayate. One of the shows was about alcoholism. In 70 years an organization to combat alcoholism had a membership of 30,000. In 2 to 3 months after the show was aired, the membership rose to 3.5 lakhs. Can communication help to take a proven solution to scale, he asked.

Bhatkal spoke passionately about his fight against drought in rural Maharashtra. He said water scarcity is a man-made condition, and only peoples efforts can solve the crisis. He emphasized the power of communication to mobilize, motivate and train people in this mission to eradicate drought.

Spotlight

Featured Non-Profit Organizations

Lok Biradari Prakalp of Dr Amte

Lok Biradari Prakalp is a social project started in 1973 by the social worker Baba Amte for integrated development of the Madia Gond, a primitive tribe inhabiting the Dandakaranya forests in Maharashtra. A phenomenal race, the tribes have been in existence for centuries. However, this gentle race was completely cut-off from civilization, knowing no clothing, education or health care until Lok Biradari Prakalp was established.

Snehalaya of Dr. Girish Kulkarni

Based in Maharashtra, Snehalaya's services are primarily for women, children and LGBT communities affected by poverty and the commercial sex industry. We help to fight HIV and AIDS and to end human trafficking, improve education for deprived children and campaign for justice to bring rescue, rights and rehabilitation to those that need it.

Sewa Rural of Dr. Srey and Dr Gayatri

SEWA Rural is a voluntary development organization involved in health & development activities in rural tribal area of South Gujarat since 1980. The activities were initiated by a group of young professionals having education & experience in India & abroad and based upon the ideals & ideas of Swami Vivekananda & Mahatma Gandhi.

Mountain Childrens Foundation

Based in the Indian mountain state of Uttarakhand, The Mountain Childrens Foundation (MCF) works to help children become agents for change and development in their communities since 2002.

Our unique approach seeks to invert the top-down, outside-in model of traditional development activities. Our objective is to empower children through knowledge, training, and the power of collective action, to change their communities from the ground up.

News

From the world of Philanthropy

India Philanthropy Alliance formed by eleven non-profit bodies.

These organizations collectively raise USD 125 million annually in philanthropic donations, including more than USD 50 million in the United States, a media release said. Their most generous donors are Indian-American entrepreneurs and professionals as well as companies doing business in both the United States and India.

ICMR Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to 3 game changers of Indian Healthcare by Bill Gates.

Dr Cyrus S. Poonawalla, Chairman and Managing Director, Serum Institute of India; Dr Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairman and Managing Director, Biocon India and Dr Prakash Baba Amte, Director, Lok Biradari Prakalp were the recipients. Mr. Gates said, Dr. Prakash Amte has served in remote tribal villages doing amazing research and clinical services for under-served populations. This example is very inspiring as it helps us understand what we need to do to improve health equity worldwide.

Watch this ~8-minute video on women in Vellore and their essential role in the Naganadhi rejuvenation project.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCNvcs3fVkg&feature=youtu.be

Eco India: How an army of women in Vellore resurrected a river that once served as their lifeline

Photojournalism on India's Ominous Future: Too Little Water, or Far Too Much

Decades of short-sighted government policies are leaving millions defenseless in the age of climate disruptions especially the countrys poor.

Vidnyanvahini (which means knowledge on wheels) is a nonprofit organization that teaches science to rural schoolchildren through experiments in its Mobile Science Lab.

Many rural students in India are behind in science. So Sharad Godse and other volunteers have visited more than 2,600 schools to make science concepts fun and comprehensible for high-schoolers.

Leila Janah, Entrepreneur Who Hired the Poor, Dies at 37

A child of Indian immigrants, she created digital jobs that pay a living wage to thousands in Africa and India, believing that the intellect of the poor was the biggest untapped resource in the world.

Leadership

2018-19 Executive Committee
  • President: Reshma Nigam
  • Vice-President and Sponsorship Chair: Abhay Bhushan
  • Treasurer: Jayashree Desale
  • Secretary: Smita Patel
  • Project Committee Chair: Govind Desale
  • Partnership Chair: Bhupen Mehta
  • Golden Jubilee Chair: Kirit Shah
  • Content Chair: Mayuranki Almaula
  • Marketing Chair: Sharmila Kumar
  • Women's Leadership Chair: Lata Patil
  • Strategy and ICA 3.0: Prakash Agarwal
  • NGO Community Chair: Anju Sahay
  • Infrastructure Chair: Padma Chari
Founders
  • Late Jagat Dalal
  • Late Pankaj Lalaji
  • Late Mahendra Mehta (1941-2018)
  • Girish Shah
  • Sharad Pandya
  • Krishan Jindal
  • Late Dr. P. Kumar Mehta
  • Shailesh Shah
  • Natwar Chauhan

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Indians for Collective Action (ICA)
3838 Mumford Pl, Palo Alto
CA 94306-4565

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