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India Currents: Converging Perspectives in Indian Communities

NCM Profile

NCM, Elena Shore Posted: Jun 27, 2003

India Currents aims to bring its readers "everything Indian in America," from calendars of spiritual and cultural events to debates on social and political issues, from fiction and youth voices to recipes for traditional Indian foods.

Vandana Kumar , Publisher of India Currents

When Arvind Kumar went to San Francisco's Festival of India in 1987, he was so inspired by the wealth of world-class Indian musicians, artists and dancers in the Bay Area that he wanted to create a magazine to showcase their talents. India Currents, a free monthly magazine based in San Jose, was founded as a forum where people could find out where all these events were happening, as a way "to bring the Festival of India to town every month."

"As the Indian community in California has grown, so has our focus," says publisher Vandana Kumar, citing the 300,000 Indians in the state, half of whom live in the Bay Area.

Today India Currents––with 28,800 copies distributed in two editions in Northern and Southern California–– focuses on the social issues facing first generation Indians that are rarely addressed in mainstream media. The magazine features stories on the "sandwich generation," the generation of immigrants caught between looking after their children and their parents. The publication also debunks the "model minority" myth of Indian Americans by exposing the numbers of Indians who work on shop floors producing chips in the underside of Silicon Valley. It also tackles topics such as domestic violence, civil liberties, and gender roles in Indian communities.

The range of voices represented in the publication appeals to a diverse audience of a variety of ages, religions and political perspectives. The magazine also prides itself on its wider appeal: according to a recent study, 15 percent of its readers are not Indian.

India Currents' variety of perspectives is reflected in the magazine's Forum, where two writers with opposing views sound off on a political issue, such as New Hampshire's resolution calling for U.S. Congressional hearings on the Jammu and Kashmir issue. In Desi Voices, one young Indian American professional reflects on the erosion of civil liberties since 9/11 after an Indian restaurant he is eating in is raided by Homeland Security officers. Young people voice their concerns in the magazine's Youth page, where a teen discusses the correlation between music types and teen social classification.

The magazine features news and commentaries about Indian society, including an article on a young woman who called off her marriage after the groom's family demanded a huge dowry; a debate on the caste system in Hindu society; an article on peace efforts with Pakistan; and a commentary by a writer who reflects on his American and Muslim identity after witnessing anti-Muslim violence in India.

Traditional and modern cultures converge on the pages of India Currents, where writers analyze American society from traditional Indian perspectives and vice versa. In one recent letter to the editor, a reader justifies the war in Iraq by comparing President Bush's decision to take action to Arjuna's decision in the Mahabharata. In Desi Voices, a writer raised on Hollywood movies describes her first experience watching a Bollywood movie and finds that it breaks all the rules of American masculinity.

India Currents also provides advice columns that address the immediate concerns of the Indian community. A lawyer specializing in immigration issues answers readers' questions about visas and changes at the INS. A psychologist specializing in integrating Eastern and Western perspectives gives advice to the mother of a young Pakistani Muslim who has just returned to the United States after fighting in the Iraq war and is upset by his role in the violence.

The magazine, of course, continues to follow its original mission to keep the community informed of news in arts and entertainment. A recent cover story focuses on a ruling by a Delhi High Court that dancers over 45 years of age should retire. Reviews keep people up to date with the latest Indian books, films and movies; and its spiritual, yoga, and cultural events calendars continue to bring Indian arts, music and dance to a diverse community of Californians.

India Currents is online at www.indiacurrents.com.

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