Director: Krutin Patel
Aasra (Asian American Support and Resource Agency), is a group dedicated to its mission: to empower and enrich the lives of women. Founded in 2001, Aasra has struck a chord in the South Asian community in Greater Boston area. Aasra screened Krutin Patel's film 'ABCD' at the Burlington Public Library on the 13th of April. This was an open event, free to the public, with the screening followed by a discussion. Those present included Anu Bandhopadhya, Kamal Mishra, Geetha Ramamurthy, Shri, Archana Singhal, Vibha Goyal, Pritam Singh, Mausami Sengupta, Arsh Mehrothra, Anil Mehrothra, Rama Palriwala, Vibha Goyal, Neel Vora, Monika Garg, Taruna Garg, Moki Goyal and Pushpa Agarwal .
Anu Bandopadhay at the outset of the afternoon's event introduced Aasra's agenda and its goals. The organization will provide opportunities for women to get together, share ideas and support those in need. Aaasra will work with the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence and Waltham's Support Committee Against Battered Women. Aiming to build a strong foundation of support and the infrastructure to assist women in need, Aasra intends to support its activities through membership drives, fundraising events, private grants and donations. Aasra also plans to provide information and advice on various issues such as health, nutrition, immigration and finance. Future plans include panel discussions, workshops and social events such as book readings. AASRA is an incorporated nonprofit organization, and has filed for tax-exempt status.
Checking prejudice and pre-conceived notions in at the door, panelists and participants sat down to discuss and analyze the film 'ABCD' .
Arsh Mehrotra, stated that all parents have expect their children to succeed and do well in life, it was these expectations that helped children reach for excellence in whatever they attempted. While not agreeing with her totally, panelist Neel opined that parents everywhere tended to expect for their kids, the successes that eluded them. He implied that parents wanted their children to have all that they themselves never had. A member of the audience, Vibha, said that parents guide their children through life hoping to help them and not harm them. Panelist Shipra observed that the line between guiding and pressuring is thin and very rarely is a comfortable balance in place. With members of the audience chiming in with their opinions, there were some very interesting observations concerning the divide between attitudes of first and second generation Americans.
Taruna Garg, a young lady from the audience, very articulately tried to put some of the issues in perspective. She implied that Indian parents have the notion that only certain careers are acceptable. Kids are forced to choose between a career in Medicine, Engineering or Law. Here, in this country one can choose any career and make a successful living, she said. Kids growing up here realize the hardships their parents faced back home in India with job insecurity and such, but they should understand that it is very different in this country.
Archana Singhal noted that in India parents often made decisions on behalf of their children's education and career choices, but Indian parents here are learning to let the children decide for themselves. Vibha Goyal said that things are changing in India, as children now have more options to choose their career path. All agreed with Anil Mehrotra, from the audience, who opined that communication was paramount, parents and children had to establish a relationship of openness and trust.
More provocative and engaging was the next issue put to the panelists and the audience. In the film ABCD, the immigrant mother mirroring a pattern of behavior common to most Indians, seeks happiness for her children, which translates to an arranged marriage with a suitable Indian boy for the daughter, and a promotion at work for her son. Noting this disparity in thinking Anu Bandhopadhya raised the question of why Indian parents everywhere tend to have such double standards when rearing their children. She asked the panelists and the audience to ponder the issue and discuss it keeping in mind personal experiences as parents and children.
Arsh Mehrotra , at the offset admitted to no such partiality. "The rules in my house were the same for both my children, I worried more about my son than my daughter when it came to driving home at night," she said, with her husband, Anil, backing her up.
Neel observed that he noticed this pattern among his American friends as well. Parents, he said, all over the world tend to be more protective of their daughters than their sons. Shipra, an only child of her parents, said that she was lucky in that aspect that her parents had raised her with the right priorities. Her mother, Rama Palriwala, jokingly, offered to leave the room when a member of the audience wondered if her presence had, in any way, prompted her daughters' response.
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