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2nd Annual Meeting Of “India Discovery Center” (IDC)

Praveen Sahay and Bijoy Misra
06/02/2016

The volunteers and guests of IDC met on a bright spring day in Lexington to take stock of their first year of journey.  The program consisted of a report and a showcase of some of the IDC research pertaining to the oldest era of India civilization. This report summarizes the first year update of IDC.

IDC – Goals and Status

The afternoon event began with an operational and financial summary of IDC by Dr. Bijoy Misra and Praveen Sahay. Dr. Misra reiterated the core values of IDC that emphasize education through scholarly research and social engagement.  Much of India’s cultural history needs analytic research particularly from an outsider’s point of view.  Whole host of contributions in mathematics, astronomy, engineering, health sciences, human speech and grammar, language, music, architecture and dance need to be scientifically understood.  India’s cosmological speculations on the origin of the universe also need serious investigation.  India Discovery Center wishes to make efforts to foster new research on the cultural contributions of India that could be carried out by the application of modern tools and techniques.

Most of the history of India has not been analytically evaluated and much has been written for the convenience of the rulers and the occupiers than to represent its dynamism and creativity. A great deal of misinformation exists in the telling of India and the only way to correct them is to question all assumptions and apply objective and comprehensive analyses, assimilating recent discoveries and cross-referencing them to weave a path of continuity.  This is particularly relevant for the children of the immigrants who need to explore their heritage built through thousands of years of evolution.  We believe there are important connections to be found, as the ancients did, between the nature of the mind, cognition, consciousness, life and the physics of the universe.

Following Dr. Misra, Praveen Sahay summarized the key accomplishments of the year.  During the year of operation, IDC was formally incorporated and applied for a non-profit 501(c)3 status for operation in the US.  The volunteers and the Executive Committee thank Attorney Siddhartha Pattanayak, who acts as the General Counsel for the organization. The final approval letter was received in March 2016, granting the approval effective December 14, 2014. 

India Heritage Weekend

In October 2015, IDC launched the first annual India Heritage Weekend program with a celebration of the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India. The two-day event held at Regis College, Weston, MA, featured a first ever public display of several rare photographs of Mahatma Gandhi taken by his grandson Kanu Gandhi.  Kanu Gandhi, who lived in Boston for a while, served as the personal photographer of Mahatma in his late years. The IHW event had a live charkha demonstration that was the eye-catcher for all visitors.  The first day capped with the showing of the Award-winning movie “Gandhi” done by late Richard Attenborough.  A report by Swati Dave summarized these events here.

http://www.lokvani.com/lokvani/article.php?article_id=11484.

The second day program included a musical concert on the theme of “Liberation” and included a public lecture by Prof. Rajmohan Gandhi, Mahatma’s grandson and Professor of History at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne.  Prof. Gandhi emphasized the role of Mahatama as a “fighter” and he coined the phrase “nonviolent fighter”.  A “fight” is not mere resistance, it is a strategic move towards the victory for the cause.  Mahatma’s cause was the freedom of India and to achieve the liberation of people from the foreign rule.  The lecture was followed by the award of prizes in the High School Students’ Essay Competition.  The topic for the competition was “Gandhi’s message and its influence in the world.  The winning essays are archived in http://www.indiadiscoverycenter.org. A brief report on the lecture was prepared by the local Gandhian Dr. Pramod Thaker http://www.lokvani.com/lokvani/article.php?article_id=11524.

Finance

During the year, IDC’s total expenditure totaled $15,365 against revenue of $9,533. That left a financial gap of $5,832, which has subsequently been closed through voluntary member contributions. A financial report was submitted to IRS in April, 2016. IDC Is looking forward to launching its formal website, conducting research in India’s cultural history and designing visuals that could act as milestones in chronicling India’s cultural development.  Presenting complex ideas for education through the application of technology is the creative challenge.  IDC welcomes volunteers and entrepreneurs who might have interest in organizing information to be used in High School and in the public areas.

South Asian Poets of New England (SAPNE)

The literary organization South Asian Poets of New England (SAPNE) has formally merged with the India Discovery Center and operates with the IDC sponsorship.  SAPNE has been in operation since 2008 and is an offshoot of the India Poetry Reading group at Harvard University that began operating in 1997.  IDC hosted two events of SAPNE in November, 2015 and in March 2016.  The program “Voice of the People” was hosted on November 21, 2015, at Lexington Public Library, Lexington, MA.  It featured the recitation of a classic poem followed by a self-composed poem on the similar theme.  Many new compositions emerged through the process.  It was a celebration of literature in multiple languages. A report has been published by Amandeep Singh http://www.lokvani.com/lokvani/article.php?article_id=11622. 

A follow-up program “Voice of the Mothers and the Youth” was featured on March 5, 2016, at Burlington Public Library, Burlington, MA.  Many young children participated in the program expressing their creativity and the command of the language.  The program was a celebration of maternity and love.  A report by Amandeep Singh has been published by Lokvani at http://www.lokvani.com/lokvani/article.php?article_id=11931.  We thank IDC volunteer Dr Krishna Gazula with help in organizing the events.

SAPNE events are coordinated by Dr Bijoy Misra and Chandu Shah.  Poets in all languages are encouraged to participate in the SAPNE activities.  

IDC Research and Update

IDC activity concentrates on the analytic study of the India’s cultural history. The first phase of research activity comprising the basic topical layout of one hundred exhibition rooms of the IDC museum building that is expected to be a representation of the depth and diversity of India to be used for education.  The volunteers meet every two weeks on Saturdays to discuss a sequential topic of interest.  Starting with the modern time, the team has reached the two- thirds mark and is currently considering the Buddhist period.  The task is expected to complete by the end of 2017.  Parallel work on the design and display is being undertaken.  Interested individuals can join the team by joining the Google group “IndiaDiscoveryCenter” or sending mail to Dr. Misra at Misra.bijoy@gmail.com.

IDC and Virtual Museum

As discussed before, India Discovery Center is planned to consist of five floors of exhibition rooms, twenty on each floor, which will present the unfolding narrative of history, geography, polity, economy, trade, language, literature, philosophy and other cultural aspects of the Indic civilization from the Vedic times to the modern era. The center will also contain library, conference rooms, auditoriums and food courts that will enable the center to provide a modern venue to various other cultural organizations around Boston.  The indoor space is expected to be at least 150,000 square feet, with ancillary spaces sized to accommodate a peak capacity of 1,000 visitors.

The planned activities during 2017 include the launch of a new “Virtual Museum,” an online discovery center that will present IDC’s research as well as references and recommendations to other vetted resources, with a view to eventually becoming a go-to site for all people interested in knowing the cultural heritage of India.  Please contact Praveen Sahay at praveen@waveep.com if you wish to support the financial or technology activities of IDC.

Next Events

The next India Heritage Weekend event is scheduled to be held on September 25th at Cary Hall, 1605 Massachusetts Ave, Lexington, MA 02420.  Recognizing the contribution of India to the field of study of human body, the theme for the year is chosen to be “Ayurveda,” the science of health and longevity.  Experts in the field will participate in the panel discussions, answering questions and creating a path for the future towards the prevention of diseases and sufferings in the old age.  

On May 15, the 20th India Poetry Reading was jointly hosted by the South Asia Institute and the Department of South Asian Studies at Harvard University.  The topic was “Environment.” http://southasiainstitute.harvard.edu/event/20th-annual-harvard-india-poetry-reading/

On July 23, IDC will sponsor a full day symposium on the cultural history of Indus Civilization to be held at Lexington Community Center, 39 Marrett Road, Lexington, MA.  Dr Richard Meadow, the Harappa Archaeologist and the Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at Harvard University will present the latest findings from the excavations In India and Pakistan.  IDC researchers will follow with their individual presentations.  Those wishing to attend can register for the event at http://www.idiadiscoverycenter.org. 

Indus Presentations

The update was followed by technical presentations on the reconstruction of the Indus Civilization research through six tracks.  The tracks are : (i) Geography and People, (ii) Art and Culture, (iii) Language and Literature, (iv) Philosophy and Religion, (v) Science and Technology, and (vi) Economy and Politics.  Swati Dave, Srabonti Bandyopadhyay, Jaspal Singh, Chandrika Govardhan, Krishna Gazula, and Sanjeev Tripathy currently lead the tracks.  A larger team is being built.  Srabonti Bandyopadhyay, Jaspal Singh, Krishna Gazula, and Sanjeev Tripathy made the presentations.  The presentations elicited excellent questions from the audience.  The quality of work was applauded by all, and generated a stronger sense of commitment and shared passion from all present.  These presentations have been summarized by an accompanying report written by Dr. R. Balachandra.

http://www.lokvani.com/lokvani/article.php?article_id=12118

Vote of Thanks

IDC is thankful to many volunteers who have committed their time and resources for the cause.  Janmejay “Jjay” Shishupal has been the record keeper with the photographs and helps maintain the website.  Chandrika Govardhan helped raise the funds to offset the IDC deficit.  Radha Jalan, Jaspal Singh, Hardeep Mann, Sajeev Tripathi, Prem Nagar, Swati Dave, Pallavi Gandhi and Krishna Gazula have been consistent in contributing to the IDC bi-weekly discussion meetings.  Many other individuals have helped IDC in multiple ways through timely help, courtesy and assistance.

We acknowledge all help on behalf of the Executive Committee of India Discovery Center.

We hope to see you in our next event. 



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