Where is My Community? (Update)

By Kul Bhushan Uppal

When was the last time you asked yourself this question – why can’t we do this event as a community?
Overall, the community at large never stood behind any organization in achieving all goals towards unifying the community. Even living in USA, we as a community always struggle, in giving up our old ways of fighting with each other and undermining all efforts by others.

Our community has never learned to come together even politically. This fact was confirmed by one of the senior Senator from Texas at one of the Indian functions. The Senator said that Indian origin people donate lots of money to the various campaigns, but have never asked for any kind of favors in return. In general, the community members are happy to get their pictures taken with the politicians as mementos for their donations. This is not helping us unite for a common cause as a community.

After all what is community? The word, “community” is derived from the old French word comunete – which in turn is derived from the Latin communitas (from Latin communis – things held in common), a broad term for fellowship or organized community. A community is a unit of large number of people that shares common values. In any typical communities – intent, belief, preferences, needs, risks, resources and number of other conditions may be present, affecting the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness.

One Indian organization started raising funds for a new community center but soon realized that not every member of the community at large was committed to this goal. It was also around this time that Indian Consulate opened their doors in Houston under the direction of our first Consul General Mr. Swash Pawan Singh. After being in the city for few months, Mr. Swash Pawan Singh called (Early 1996) the committee handling the details of new community center that he would like to get involved in establishing the basic parameters around establishing details of the community center. By the way Mr. Swash Pawan Singh was responsible in coming up with the name, “India House”, for this community center. The committee had a list of 6 different names but he was instrumental in steering the committee in the direction of the current name for this building. It was indeed a pleasure to be working so closely with our Consul General as he was totally committed to the concept of community center.

India House (Community center) was a dream of the first few Indian American immigrants to Houston which started taking shape in June 2000, when a parcel of little over 10-acre land was purchased by India Culture Center in Southwest Houston. After a few challenges, it became obvious that a separate entity will have to take charge if we were to succeed in building a true community center to serve our own Indian American community as well as the mainstream community. That is when India House Inc. was born in 2003 and the entire community got behind the project. Here are the basic goals of this community center.

India House provides the “facility and infrastructure to support the broad needs of the Indian community” and the disconnected organizations providing services to this community. Recognizing these facts and to provide most essential services and participate with the American community at large, it was the desire of the Indo-American community to build a facility to receive and share values among all who wish to participate. The new facility is located in the Southwest part of Houston at 8888 West Bellfort Avenue, Houston, TX 77031. As of now the following programs and services catering to the needs of the community are being offered.

Free Food Distribution
Virendra Mathur Medical Clinic
Family and Immigration Law Consultation
Relationship Clinic
Parai Music Classes
Sareen Harris Health Clinic
BollyX Fitness
Programming Classes for Beginners
Art & Craft Classes
Soccer Classes
Personality Development Classes
Technology Classes
English Learning
Shabdh Yog
Sanskrit Classes
Dance Classes
Table Tennis
Taped Ball Cricket at India House Cricket Ground
Youth Taped Ball Cricket Clinic
India House Library
In order to provide these programs and services, India House decided to build these facilities in phases.

Phase – I India House Addresses immediate need for a facility providing assistance to seniors, families, adults, recent immigrant populations and medical clinic. Phase 1 was completed in 2008 and the building has been in full usage serving the needs of the community. I would like to urge every person within our community at large to get involved with India House activities and make full use of this facility. As a community, we need a cultural change within our thinking to come together as a community and be responsive to our surroundings. In order to achieve this goal, let me conclude with these famous words from Swami Vivekananda – Take up one idea – our community. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to bring the entire community together under one roof and a future power house to be reckoned with. One more thing, always end the day with a positive thought. No matter how hard things were, tomorrows a fresh opportunity to make it better.

Phase – 2 India House planned for a future date consists of the construction of a Cultural Center to conduct additional community activities. This will provide adequate additional space to host all community events by all organizations with well-planned infrastructure to match the needs.