NEW YORK (TIP): Federation of India, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut announced with great fanfare on June 12 that it will celebrate India’s Independence Day on August 18 by organizing ‘India Day Parade’, which the organization claimed to be the ‘World’s largest India Day Parade outside of India’.
The announcement was made by Sanjay Amin, president, FIA in the presence of the newly appointed Consul-General of India in New York, Dnyaneshwar Mulay, and a ball room full of people at ‘India House’ in midtown Manhattan. ‘India House’ happens to be the head quarter of the Consulate General of India in New York as well as the official residence of the Consul-General.
The fact that FIA, an organization that has yet to prove its credentials for representing the culture and history of a country like India publicly, was allowed to use a Government of India facility for holding its kick-off meeting, gives it a legitimate status. Amused and bewildered by superlatives used by FIA officials while making exaggerated claims of achievements, Mr. Mulay nonchalantly highlighted some valid drawbacks in his scholarly speech, which were not fully understood by FIA authorities in appropriate contexts.
Mr. Mulay advised FIA leadership to ensure representation of women in the leadership positions in the organization as women represented ‘Shakti’ in Indian culture. FIA chairman Ramesh Patel, in his effort to sound humorous, didn’t take the advise seriously and went on making fun of the issue. In a foolish remark Patel said that he had been facing Shakti all his life, referring casually to his wife.
Taking the clue from their Chairman, other FIA functionaries also made similar out-of-the-context remarks about women, while none of them showed their concern or found it fit to explain why women were not included in the organizational hierarchy. Mulay also advised the organizers of ‘India Day’ parade to highlight India’s economic growth as a part of their celebration.
None of the officials reacted appropriately to this suggestion except asking the government of India for financial help so guests could fly from India in the first class cabin of Air India or Jet Airways. One wonders if FIA realizes the concept of representing India in an intellectual fashion! FIA president Sanjay Amin informed the audience that his organization was successful in getting the Empire Estate Building illuminated in the tri-color of orange, green and white, symbolizing the three colors of the Indian national flag.
He also said that FIA was honored to be invited by NASDAQ to ring the opening bell at NASDAQ. Of course these are great achievements but continue to remain symbolic in nature. There is nothing substantial that FIA could exhibit as India’s economic and cultural representations. The topmost priority of ‘India Day’ parade organizers’ remains working overtime to ensure presence of some Bollywood characters as Grand Marshall.
The question is how many New Yorkers care about a Salman Khan or a Saif Ali Khan? Does a Bollywood celebrity represent the economic or cultural power of India? The crowds that watch the parade comprise of large number of New Yorkers, many of whom don’t belong to Indian origin. They don’t have much idea about India. They want to watch and know about India’s tradition, its history and its grand monuments.
Unfortunately, FIA is entangled into an outdated notion of representing India with a Bollywood star who rides a float, which is nothing more than a crudely decorated publicity truck. It is absurd that FIA should claim that its parade is the biggest in the world because NYPD estimated that more than one hundred thousand people watched the India Day Parade on August 19, 2012 from the sidewalks of Madison Avenue.
The parade took place in Midtown Manhattan that overflows with people on a Sunday anyway. Though FIA is a non-profit organization, it is controlled by a group of people who claim to be truly representing India in glamorous, spectacular and grand fashion from a Bollywood yardstick. The audacity of FIA bosses is such that they asked Mule to advise the Government of India for financial assistance for flying its guests in first class cabins of India’s national carriers. One hopes that Government of India stops legitimatizing such organizations by allowing its facilities to meet their shortsighted goals.