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Lokvani: ‘Voice’ of South Asians in New England

New America Media, NAM Profile, Zoneil Maharaj Posted: Jul 21, 2006

New England is home to a strong Indian community, with more than 40,000 residing in Massachusetts alone. But many were in the dark, unaware of what the community had to offer until Lokvani lit the torch in August of 2001.

The online magazine helped shine light on the South Asian community through its community-based journalism. Updated every night, Lokvani covers everything from local events such as Historic Hindu Day in Massachusetts to interviews with local politicians such as Raj Bhakta, a Pennsylvanian candidate for Congress, and community leaders and activists such as Monalisa Patnaik, founder of the non-profit To Help Rural Indian Villages Emerge (THRIVE), which provides Indian women and children with access to health care and education in India.

“There were lots of things happening around the city (Boston) and nobody knew what was going on,” says Anil Saigal, a mechanical engineering professor at Tufts University and one of the founders of the online magazine. “Lokvani was a way to bring the Indian American community together under one roof.”

Though predominantly serving Indian Americans in New England, the site attracts readers of all ages and backgrounds across the globe who possess an interest in the Indian subcontinent. Printing in English allows them to tap into a larger market. The 100,000 hits a month and 25,000 subscriptions to their e-magazine is a testament of their reach.

lokvani team

Lokvani was founded by a collective of five friends – Anil Saigal, Ranjani Saigal, Nirmala Garimella, Anoop Kumar, and the late Chitra Parayath who was killed in a road accident last year. The four remaining members play equal parts in the daily operations of the site including editing and generating content. Roughly 20 percent of the articles come from contributors, Saigal says.

The name Lokvani translated into English is “Voice of the people” – “Lok” derived from “Lok Sabha,” the Indian parliament, and “Vani” derived from “Akashvani,” the leading radio broadcast station in India.

“That’s what we are, we want to bring the voice of the people,” Saigal says. “Our goal is to present the Indian American community in a positive sense. We do not go after sensational news.”

Remaining true to their people and their community is Lokvani’s primary mission. And while many media outlets claim to represent their community, few actually do it.

Along with news coverage, Lokvani serves as a networking hub for Indian Americans in New England and works closely with local businesses, event organizers, and also with the Pakistani and Sri Lankan communities. Last year, when the Hindu temple wanted to meet with local organizations in Boston, Lokvani organized and hosted the event. When the devastating tsunami struck the Indian Ocean in 2004, Lokvani provided the community with local organizations to which readers could send donations.

While the site features everything of relevance to those of South Asian origin, spanning the spectrum from local artists to the latest in Bollywood news, a key focus for Lokvani is the promotion of youth culture.

“We are looking for things that promote the community in a positive sense and help the younger people to get up and make a mark, that’s what differentiates us,” Saigal says. “There are so many artists in the local scene. Our goal is to promote them and promote the youth. “

According to Saigal, there are plans to expand nationwide over the next couple of years to do what they’ve done in Boston in other cities, which is let out the voice of the people.

Visit Lokvani at www.lokvani.com.

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India Post Champions Indian America


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