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India Day 2020 - A Virtual Event

Thirty One years that’s how long we’ve been hosting India day at India Society of Worcester or ISW. What started back in 1989 in the halls of Worcester auditorium, no one could have imagined that one day it would be streaming live from someone’s home office, being watched by hundreds of people on their devices, enjoying amazing dancers perform in their living rooms, backyards, parks or sometime on the roads. The year 2020 has shown us a new normal, in which ISW has broken all barriers to bring to the community not 1 or 2 but multiple live online events from Antakshri to art night to yoga and now a 3 day, 5 session virtual India Day event . So once again from bottom of my heart thank you to all my fellow ISWers who made this event possible & to all the dancers, singers and teachers, to our community and above all to all of you the audience who boost our spirits by liking, sharing and commenting on our posts and videos and encouraging us to make ISW a home away from home for many of us. So with that I invite you to Please watch all the videos we are sharing in this special edition and share, comment and like us on FB. Happy Independence Day Jai Hind...... Puneet Kohli (VP ISW, Chair India Day)

India Day Session Highlights

Opening Session - Friday, August 7th

The theme for ISW India Day 2020 was Navarasa or the nine emotions in dance. The session opened with a Ganesha Vandana and followed with dances embodying Shringar, Shanta, and Bhayanak Rasas expressed in Bollywood, Khatak, Odissi and other dance styles. A special treat was the Best Dress Contest to raise funds for Covid-19 Relief. Check out the video on facebook

Saturday, August 8th - Afternoon Session

The fun continued on Saturday with dances that took you across India expressing a range of emotions, from tender love to a sense of wonderment, from courage to joy and laughter. The dances highlighted the range of talent and the diverse regions within the country. Check out the live video on facebook

Saturday, August 8th - Evening Session

The evening session included a collage of dances by talented choreographers from across New England. with productions in a range of styles from classical, hiphop, folk, Bollywood and a lot more. The surprise item was a special treat from the ISW Cultural Group. You don't want to miss that, click on the video link to find out.

Sunday, August 9th - Afternoon Session

Melodies and dances for every age and dances from all the corners of India filled the afternoon. Our Navarasa theme came to life by the talented choreographers. From energetic tiny tots, to graceful ladies, these performances were sure to keep you engaged. Take a look at the session in the video

Sunday August 9th - Closing Session

The celebration of India Day closed with a finale of dances that included retrospective dances from prior India Days in addition to fresh new performances. The winners of the Best Dress Competition were announced with an appearance by Mrs. India New England 2020. We hope you enjoyed this recap of the India Day and it gave you a chance to catch up in case you missed anything. Check out the video on facebook.

National Anthem Singers

By Shiamin Melville

When ISW school is in session, we begin with a rendition of both the Indian and US National Anthems, and every year for India Day celebrations the ISW Cultural and Language School students and teachers inaugurate the event with both the national anthems. This year we were fortunate to do the same for our virtual India Day 2020 with ten separate videos for each of our 5 virtual sessions

Thanks to the following singers of  Indian National Anthem

  1. Dhruv, Arush, Uruvi, Snehalata Kadam & Jagan Srinivasan
  2. Ramya & Srujana Tammisetti
  3. Ria, Atharv, Atul & Sarita Deshpande
  4. Safalta, Samvriddhi & Anju Shukla
  5. Shivangi, Aayushi,,Anu Debroy & Soumen Das Gupta 

Thanks to the following singers of  US National Anthem

  1. Aarshiya Sachdeva
  2. Aarushi Pant
  3. Keerthana Balakrishnan
  4. Mitali Biswas
  5. Sakshi & Surabhi Dindore

Thank you to Shivangi , who put two videos together.

India Day Bollywood Quiz & Panel Discussions

The Great Bollywood Movie Quiz – Lockdown Edition

"Relive old classics...recollect old memories...relax yourself". That was the theme of the Bollywood Quiz event as part of the ISW India Day celebrations. A passionate and very knowledgeable group of contestants made it a fun and engaging event. Click on the video link to join the fun and find out who were the winners.

Panel on '"Racial Solidarity as South Asians"

As part of India Day, a committee of young adults hosted a panel discussion on '"Racial Solidarity as South Asians". The group, called SAYAAA, are part of the second generation of ISW community members who on their own have raised their voices by organizing vigils, posting on FB and hosting podcasts and writing articles. They discussed how they educated themselves, strategies to combat racism and how to get more involved in the future. Click here to read more about the session, watch the panel video and take the survey if your would like to learn more and join. 

Navigating jobs in the age of COVID-19

While the COVID-19 pandemic is upon us, many are grappled by the fear of losing a job and finding a new one. In the past six months, a whopping 40 million have lost jobs and claimed benefits from the government. Even though the future looks bleak, experts believe that there is hope for everyone. At the virtual India Day organized by India Society of Worcester, six experts from various walks of life sat together to discuss what to expect, what to change, and how to approach a professional journey during COVID times.

History of India Day by Dr. S Passey

After 3 years of discussion, the first India Day Festival was held at the Worcester Auditorium in 1989. It was so windy and rained so hard that the rain literally came down sideways. The Executive Committee took invitations and sent them out to all the politicians of Worcester and personal family and friends. We ended up having a good amount in attendance and decided the rain was a good luck charm for us. (Since that year, it has rained on most of our India Day celebrations!) Unfortunately, we had to pay a large amount for the rental and union charges and the parking was terrible so the following year we looked for a more suitable place.

For the next few years we held it at Holy Name High School in Worcester. The cost was much better and we had plenty of room. We also had a large parking lot. One year we even had Dr. Deepak Chopra as our guest speaker. 

When ISW member, Dr. Kalyan Ghosh, became President of Worcester State University, he offered us use of the entire Student Center for the complete weekend. We paid a nominal fee and had use of his staff to help us with the setup. We were there for about 10 years until Dr. Ghosh retired.

Since the Student Center was no longer available to us, we were again on the move. The City of Worcester was celebrating a summer of Diversity and invited several organizations to set up cultural displays at the Italian Center at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church for a week, ending with a day of festivities...for us, India Day. From then on we continued to use the Italian Center for our yearly India Day Festival until 2015, the 26th India Day.

And as they say in bollywood movie continues....

  • 9 Aug 2020 5:32 PM | Anonymous

    By Arun Radhakrishnan

    "Relive old classics...recollect old memories...relax yourself". That was the theme of the Bollywood Quiz event as part of the ISW India Day celebrations. Hopefully, that is what the contestants and the audience were able to do. The event was split into 2 individual sessions spread across two days and each one had all the "masala" that makes for a blockbuster Bollywood movie. Each session consisted of 5 rounds of rapid-fire questions and the categories ranged from famous movie dialogues to clips of yesteryear chartbusters, celebrity eyes, acronyms of movie names and song lyrics. We had an amazing group of contestants for each session who were not only passionate, but also extremely knowledgeable about our movies. Their speed at hitting the buzzer along with an engaging audience made this fast paced event so much more fun. Congratulations to our winners - Anisha Bhadauria (Session 1) and Puneet Gupta (Session 2) and a big THANK YOU to all the participants and our audience for an engaging event. Thank you to ISW volunteers, ISW Cultural Committee and Bollywood Quiz organizers (Amita and Sarita) for your support. Also thanks to the quizmaster Arun for coming up with such a fun concept and an amazing set of questions.

  • 8 Aug 2020 5:36 PM | Anonymous

    By Keerthana Balakrishnan 

    As part of India Day 2020 on Saturday August 8th a committee of young adults came together to discuss the current issues playing out in the USA today. This group is called SAYAA, which stands for the South Asian Youth Activists and Allies. We are part of the second generation of ISW community members who on their own have raised their voices by organizing vigils, posting on FB and hosting podcasts and writing articles .  With the support of the Executive Board of India Society of Worcester,  we came  together  under the 'ISW Young Professionals Group' initiative.

    During this panel, the committee members discussed the history of race in America, microaggressions against minorities, and how to combat unfair stereotypes. The event started off with speaker Kavya Balaji on “Racial Solidarity as South Asians''. Kavya had written an eloquent letter to “Uncles and Aunties' ' about why South Asians should be concerned about Black Lives Matter movement and was profiled on CNN and other news channels. Following the speech, the committee members (Shubh Agrawal, Keerthana Balakrishnan,  Danush Chelladurai, Tanvi Jain, Aditya Khanna, Kavya Raghunathan, Aarshiya Sachdeva) answered questions on how they educated themselves, strategies to combat racism in a professional environment, and even how to get more involved in the future. This event was streaming on Facebook live which allowed for the audience to submit questions and engage with the conversation at hand. With audience questions, the committee was also able to look at how to combat colorism and the caste system within the Indian culture. 

    This may have just been the start for the SAYAA committee, but they hope to have panel discussions on a variety of other topics about human rights in the near future. This is only the beginning, but they hope to change the world one conversation at a time.  Share your opinions in the survey. Click here to take it.

  • 7 Aug 2020 5:38 PM | Anonymous

    By Dr. Ruchi Jhonsa, Scientific Editor, GeneOnline

    While the COVID-19 pandemic is upon us, many are grappled by the fear of losing a job and finding a new one. In the past six months, a whopping 40 million have lost jobs and claimed benefits from the government. Even though the future looks bleak, experts believe that there is hope for everyone. At the virtual India Day organized by India Society of Worcester, six experts from various walks of life sat together to discuss what to expect, what to change, and how to approach a professional journey during COVID times.
    The panel comprised of: 

    1. Dr. Ragoo Raghunathan, Business Development, Biotech (Moderator)
    2. Balki Chandrakasan, Program Manager, Charles River Laboratories (Moderator)
    3. Chella Palaniappan, Vice President- Client Services, Trigent Software
    4. Dr. Sudhi Agrawal, Founder and President, Arnay Sciences
    5. Dr. Venkat Kolluri, CEO, Cidewalk.com
    6. Dr. Krithika Vaidyanathan, Gene Therapy Scientist

    What to expect?

    In Chella Palaniappan’s opinion, the pandemic has certainly brought changes to the IT industry. However, in the last six months, industries have accepted the new situation and are now trying to figure out how to stabilize. One of the ways they are trying to cope with the situation is by automating work. When asked how all this impacted his employees, he said, “Software industry was less impacted by the pandemic, as the culture of working remote was already there from the very beginning.” But several significant changes are now being made to help employees cope with the situation. The companies are thinking about investing more in the health of employees and in their comfort while they work from home.Dr. Sudhir Agrawal opines that a lot more opportunities have opened up during pandemic, especially in the biotech field. In the past few months, many big and small pharma companies have started developing vaccines and medications for combating the virus. As they are going forward with this herculean task, the companies are looking for additional talents to support their programs. “Certainly there is a shift,but there is more of a re-calibration of talent. Scientists that were developing drugs or other diseases are now being approached to use their skills to support
    treatments for COVID,” said Dr. Agrawal.

    Venkat Kolluri talked about his experience in the field of marketing following the COVID outbreak. His area of work was greatly affected by the pandemic. Nevertheless, he managed to adapt and bring the business back on track. To capture the lost customers, he developed an online communication service with his team to help enterprises to continue growing. Additionally, he started giving free services, tips, and tricks to his customers to adapt to the new normal. Slowly but steadily, his business recovered. When asked how his employees adapted to this new change, he says one-word “Flexibility.” His employees are quite flexible, and that worked for them well. He and his team developed a routine for regular communication with each other, which kept them in touch with other employees and company’s developments.

    What to change?
    In the current situation finding a job in the field where one has expertise is not easy. Thus, it has become necessary for job seekers to adapt and approach different disciplines in biotechnology. When asked how students and scientists should widen their opportunities in the current times, Dr. Agrawal mentions the need to identify one’s passion. Job seekers should first identify their interests and then approach the job search systematically by identifying research areas, technology and companies that attract them the most. There are also many avenues for job seekers who are not particularly interested in a bench job. Depending upon their skills, people can apply for writing and communication, project manager, patenting, or business development jobs. Additionally, “During the process of job search, students and scientists should pick up skills that can help diversify them into various disciplines,” said Dr. Raghunathan. There are plenty of certificate courses and resources available online which students can take. For instance, a biology student interested in programming can take data analysis courses and transition into data science companies. 

    Krithika Vaidyanathan added to this discussion by sharing her experience with the job search. While looking for jobs, she picked up many skills, including project management and data analysis. Through the process of elimination, she realized her true passion. She recommends that people looking for jobs should take courses to broaden their skill sets and talk to people who have had more than one job path to understand what the job entails. Venkat Kolluri, however, urges job seekers who take online courses and certifications to not restrict themselves to the projects pertaining to the course. Rather, he asks them to think outside the box and broaden their experience by working with different projects. Dr. Ragoo added to this discussion and asked job seekers to approach the job in a problem solver kind of way. “Look at the problem the company is facing by looking at the job description and present yourself as someone who can solve that problem. That will distinguish you from others.” Krithika has been doing precisely that while approaching hiring managers. 

    How to approach a professional journey?

    The expert panelists gave three suggestions for the job seekers to approach a professional journey.

    1. “Get on LinkedIn” said Venkat Kalluri. “Gone are the days when you can reach out to someone and say ‘Lets talk about the job over coffee’. In the pandemic. it is difficult to approach people face to face. So to let the world know that you exist, you must start contacting people through LinkedIn. On LinkedIn, recruiters look for what job seekers are currently doing, what kind of posts they are commenting on, and how they are making connections.“ To get the attention of your skill sets, make them visible on LinkedIn through articles and posts.

    2. “Don’t wait for the esteemed job,” said Chella Palaniappan. “In the current situation, it is important to be active. People don’t care about what kind of jobs you were you doing. What they care about is that you were doing something while  looking for those esteemed jobs.” 

    3. “Before applying to a job, study the company,” said Dr. Agrawal. “It's important for the new candidates to start studying each company who they are, what they are publishing or they're publishing with other people and follow their tracks record learn about the company and then start engaging them. Companies might not be looking for candidate immediately, but when they see someone researching about them they might think that this person is worth talking to” 

    As a final piece of advice by Dr. Raghunathan also resonated with all the experts “Focus has always been on ‘built to last’, it is time to change it to ‘built to adapt’.”

    Check out the Video of the panel

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