Keeping the spirit of “All Politics Is Local”, IAGB conducted the forum on local Civic Engagement on May 18th. Panelists included Indian community members from town governance of Burlington, Ashland and Lexington. The panelists were chosen to represent the two key forms of town governance, namely open and close. The overall theme represented how community can successfully collaborate internally first and externally later to form a cohesive bond of people and make its presence felt. Following is an overview of the panelists and their accomplishments:
Ms. Jayashree Voruganti: An IAGB Past President (2015-2017), she is currently serving as a member of the Burlington Town's Ways and Means (W&M) Committee, also known as Finance Committee, whose responsibility is to approve Town's budget involving town affairs. She also represents W&M Committee on the School subcommittee. She recently contested for the Town Meeting Member for precinct 1.
Mr. K G Naryanan: He has been a very active member of local community in Ashland and Metro West Area. He is currently an elected member of the Board of Health serving in that capacity for 5 years. He is also an appointed member of Conservation commission serving in that capacity in 5th year and recently has become a part of member of Dementia friendly committee for over a year.
Mr. Ravish Kumar: Ravish is a Town Meeting Member- Precinct 7 for Town of Lexington since 2015. Ravish has also been actively involved with structuring and strengthening iGIG (Indian Americans Getting Involved Group) and currently serves as the First Vice- President of iGIG. He is also the Co-president of IAL (Indian Americans of Lexington) and part of the prestigious Lions White Tricorne Hat 2019 Selection Committee.
The discussion covered topics ranging from how best to participate in your own town governance to getting tax payers of Indian origins with no current voting rights (people on visa). Attendees were also keen to know more about how their tax dollars were put to use by town and how can they actively be involved in those decision makings. A lot of enthusiasm was shared across topics like how school committees’ budget is decided and how commercial taxes help town keep personal taxes low. How much time will a person need to take out to be actively involved in town garnered lot of response and interest both from panelists and participants.
An obvious reference was also made and discussed to the fact that as a community, Indian Americans, are clearly lacking in bringing their strength to the table. This has been a recurring them whether it is a local election or an election for State or Federal government. A grass root movement at local town level was picked up as a best stepping stone to create a larger and cohesive presence of community.
IAGB strives to engage in a delicate balancing act. On one hand, we recognize the need to provide opportunities to our members to treasure and celebrate the native traditions and cultures while simultaneously encouraging them to blend in to become a single larger community with common goals and objectives in pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. To that end, be it honoring the Indian Americans in Civic Services or getting the visa camp to our area or taking the voice of first ever Indian American primary congressional candidate to community, IAGB has worked diligently to create a visible presence for community in state and give the platform to Indian American community in Civic Services area.