The Consular Camp held on April 9th was a huge success! Over 600 applicants availed the consular services offered at this camp. A team from Consulate General of India, NY and VFS Global was present and offered their services for Indian passport renewal and renunciation, Visa, OCI, Life Certification, and other miscellaneous services. IAGB, in partnership with 13 other local organizations, presented this camp to the community. And the testimonials speak for themselves:
Jyotsna Mehta – Hats off to IAGB! It takes a lot to put something like this together.
Hetal Joshi – Congratulations IAGB and CGNY team for pulling this together so flawlessly and serving so many in the community!
Sayali Marathe – Thank you IAGB for organizing the event and giving me opportunity to volunteer as a Notary.
Aartee Deshpande – Thank you so much for arranging this!
Subhashini Raman – It was indeed a massive task and very aptly timed to help those in need of various consular and VFS services. Kudos to everyone and glad I could help as a part of TMM team.
For the first time, IAGB is bringing to its community members an ‘Indian Community Service Month’! Hundreds of community service hours have been made available for your generous volunteering work. The efforts to put together this initiative started in mid-February and the executive committee members worked in alignment with the partnering organizations – Sewa International, Dharma Center, and Being Volunteer Foundation – to create a schedule of the available volunteer opportunities. Most of the available volunteer hours are during the weekends.
Feed The Needy project by BV Foundation, Westford; The Wish Project, Lowell; Community Servings, Jamaica Plain; Cor Unum Meal Center, Lawrence; and Lowell Transitional Shelter in Lowell have been selected as the organizations to work with. Please click on https://bit.ly/IAGBMayGiving to find available slots and dates. Book today as the slots are filling up real fast!
IAGB Run4Veterans: 5K RUN/WALK
IAGB is excited that the funds raised from this year’s 5K Run/Walk will benefit two organizations with a noble cause. ‘Disabled American Veterans Organization’ (www.davma.org) and ‘Vision Aid’ (www.visionaid.org) are these organizations. The Run/Walk will be held on 14th May starting 8:30am at convenient locations. Please find all the logistical information in the below poster and REGISTER TODAY! Let’s start..
DAV has been working for the support of disabled veterans for more than nine decades. As an organization, DAV provides thousands of hours of voluntary services at five VA medical centers in Massachusetts, assisting hospitalized veterans; free rides between veterans’ homes and the VA medical centers for clinic appointments; services to veterans in their communities. They also provide counseling and assistance to homeless veterans, specialized services to women veterans and children of returning veterans.
Vision-Aid USA is a Lexington based nonprofit organization, established in 2004. Enabling, educating, and empowering the visually challenged (children and adults) to live with independence and dignity is their goal. How Your Support Helps:
$30 will enable a patient with low vision to get a low vision screening and optical assistive devices.
$50 will enable a blind student to get training in Orientation and Mobility.
$100 will provide a portable electronic magnifier to a low vision student.
$150 will provide a free smart-phone to a visually impaired student. Vision-Aid provides free training in mobile technologies.
$250 will educate a blind or low vision person with a certificate course in Introduction to Computers.
$350 will provide an AI-powered Smart Vision device to a blind person
$500 will provide 6 months comprehensive and individualized education leading to a Diploma in Computer Applications.
$1000 will provide a full residential scholarship for a Vision Impaired student which includes full coverage of their board and lodging, training and devices for the duration of the 6-month scholarshp. Training includes English, Computers, Mobile Technologies and Coaching for Competitive Exams.
$5000 will enable publication of a completely new course on the Vision-Aid Online Academy.
$10,000/year will help us establish a “named” scholarship in honor of your loved one, which will benefit ten visually impaired youth with a 6-month fully-paid, residential program that will change their lives
$10,000/year will help us establish a primary-level Vision-Aid resource center which offers a core set of services from the Vision-Aid model.
They say the best way to engage with a community is when you serve it steadily and silently. It is not when you only talk about it in theory but actually do it. And Avinash Patil – a technologist and a successful entrepreneur – has been doing it for around three decades.
For most of this time he has been closely associated with the New England Marathi Mandal, an organization of Marathi-speaking people within the New England region. Avinash started getting involved in the community activities in the early 1990’s and after serving on the executive committee as a member, vice-president, & the president, he has been operating as a trustee of the organization till date. During his tenure he has seen NEMM flourish from an almost informal group of a few families holding cultural activities together to a sustainable, registered not-for-profit and financially stable organization. NEMM has hosted big conventions for the Marathi speaking people all across North America twice and Avinash worked as a co-convener for one of those conventions. This experience led him to serve as a treasurer for the Bruhan Maharashtra Mandal of North America, a premier organization for the Marathi speaking community in this region, for four years.
One step leads to another. National and international exposure through the BMM led Avinash Patil to work as a treasurer with another important charitable organization aiming to improve quality of life among the under-privileged sections of the society, the Maharashtra Foundation, for six years. Working with these organizations, especially with Maharashtra Foundation, was a big learning experience for him. He says, “Raising and sending funds to Maharashtra, India was the simplest part. More critical part was choosing the right grass roots organizations which can make a meaningful change in the lives of intended beneficiaries.” He himself visited and observed the initiatives run on the ground in India. But all this was later in the 2010’s.
Before that and closer to home, he got involved with the activities of Indian American Forum for Political Education in the early 2000’s for a couple of years. This organization worked to enhance political awareness and to encourage civic engagement among the Indian American community. Informing and encouraging the youth to join the political arena was his favorite part of the experience. However it appears that that didn’t stop there. He has been involved for a long time with the Acton Diwali committee and this year he has been selected to Acton Town Finance Committee. It is a board of nine members overseeing the town’s finances.
Avinash Patil is no stranger to our IAGB family. He has served the organization from 2015 to 2017 as its secretary. He believes that IAGB can and does unitize different community organizations in our area to address shared community issues. He is happy to see that the community organizations, including IAGB are changing their focus towards better assimilation with the local communities. And therefore he appeals to everyone to get involved and do their part, “You can’t get the experience without getting in there.”
We wish Avinashji the best for all his community work!
An integral part of India’s legacy and heritage (dharohar) are its cities, towns, and villages. History awaits at every corner of India, whether it’s a lost legend, a well-preserved palace, or a village bazaar. Through our ‘Dharohar’ section we bring to you some of India’s treasured places.
This month we showcase Yercaud, a hill station in Salem District, in Tamil Nadu, India. Yercaud is known for orange groves, coffee and spice plantations. The name Yercaud in Tamil means Lake (Yeri) and Forests (Kadu), and is said to be named after the lake amidst wooded trees in the center of the town.
As the summer season approaches us, Yercaud gears up for a summer festival held every year during the second week of May. One of the major attractions is a flower show where lakhs of flowers are on display and several floral structures are set by the horticulture department. In addition to the flower shows, boat races, dog shows, folk dance performances, cooking, and rangoli competitions are some of the other prime highlights of the festival. The idea of organizing the summer festival is to draw attention to the importance of nature and conservation.
As you traverse through Yercaud, Yercaud Lake is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit. Providing stunning, panoramic views of the hills and lush green lawns of the hill station, this Lake also barges out as one of the most sought-after destinations in Yercaud. Surrounded by some wonderful cloud-peaked hills and a well persevered garden on its banks, this lake is a feast for the eyes. One of the other special places is a 32-Km Loop Road, which begins from the Yercaud Lake and takes one through the much-appreciated roads and agricultural plantations of Yercaud. This is among the most visited places, as it offers the taste of culture, the essence of lives, imprints of the heritage and the varied developments of the hill station. Away from the bustling life of Yercaud, the Pagoda Point is a perfect place to embrace the mind with solace and tranquility. It is named Pyramid Point as it is shaped by four piles of stones. Bestowed with captivating and scenic views of the hill station, the Pagoda Point offers the most sprawling outlook of Yercaud and its enchanting essence. Another great area to visit is the Kiliyur Waterfall. Considered as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in India, the enchanting and fascinating beauty of this 300 ft high waterfall will leave an indelible imprint on your mind and heart. The serene location of the waterfall serves as a secluded getaway for those, who wish to feel invigorated and beat the stresses of daily life.
Yercaud is accessible by air, by train and by road. The nearest railway station is in Salem. The nearest airport is Salem Airport, as well as Tiruchirappalli Airport. Yercaud is well connected by road as well.
Nestled in the southern region Yercaud is definitely a beautiful place, with verdant peaks, waterfalls, lakes, and gardens. Tourist places in Yercaud are not only enticing but intriguing as well, right from the hill to lake to the woods, and together they make Yercaud a perfect travel destination.
This month, we will be taking a look at some of the environmental impacts of carbon pollution. Through our carbon emissions, we have such a strong effect on the environment, and we hope that this small preview into a couple of the main climate issues will truly resonate with you, our readers.
In order to easily calculate your environmental impact, you can go to this website: https://www.onoraglobal.com/get-started. With Onora Global, you can also learn ways to reduce your environmental impact as well as fund verified climate repair projects that work to restore the planet.
We’d also like to encourage all the youth to take a look around this month. Where do you see areas for improvement in your school, town, or extracurricular activities in terms of environmental impact? We’ve come up with a five-step process to help you all pursue climate projects of your own.
Step 1: Pick an area to look into and spend time researching the topic.
Water: drinking water, sprinklers for the grass, plumbing
Waste: recycling/compost/trash bins, what is often thrown away, littering, etc.
Energy: heat in the winter, A/C in the summer, lighting systems, charging outlets, etc.
Food: at home, at school, packaging, local vs. non local, red meats, etc.
Travel: car, plane, train, bike, etc
Consumer products: clothing (fast fashion), electronics, notebooks, etc.
Step 2: Consider at least 1 benefit or positive effect of the current state of the area that you picked. In other words, if someone were to make a change in this area, what should you not lose sight of? (i.e. in the process of improving food at school, we can’t lose sight of the fact that you appreciate how easy it is to grab a quick snack in between classes)
Step 3: Have an open discussion with someone local who is involved in organizing whichever topic you chose to look into. Consider what you could ask them about how it works in your area, the impact it is having on the people carrying out any related tasks and all other local people, and the impact it is having on the environment.
Step 4: Continue researching your topic on a local level. What can be changed to improve the climate impacts? How will you implement this? Who else will you need help from?
Step 5: Reach out to the person involved in organizing the topic and propose your solution! Be sure to detail your plan for implementation.
~ IAGB Youth Editorial Director, Aarushi Pant
MELTING ICE CAPS
Melting ice caps is a significant issue because ice is vital for our world. Ice, in general, acts as a protective shield for the Earth and its oceans. Excess heat is reflected back into space by them, keeping the Earth cold. Because more heat from the sun is bounced off the ice and back into space, the Arctic remains cooler than the equator in theory.
In addition to taking away the habitats of walruses and polar bears, melting glaciers also contribute to rising sea levels, which increases coastal erosion and leads to more intense and frequent storms such as hurricanes and typhoons as well as an increase in flooding in coastal areas. This in turn leads to expensive disaster recovery costs.
Glaciers in particular provide scientists with a record of how climate has changed over time. Glacial ice covers around 10% of the Earth’s geographical surface now. Nearly 90% of it is in Antarctica, with the remaining 10% in the Greenland ice cap. Ocean currents are influenced by rapid glacial melt in Antarctica and Greenland when vast amounts of frigid glacial-melt water join warmer ocean waters, slowing ocean currents. Sea levels will continue to increase as land ice melts.
Many glaciers throughout the world have been melting quickly since the early 1900s. Human actions cause this phenomenon. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions have elevated temperatures since the industrial revolution, even higher in the poles, and as a result, glaciers are rapidly melting, calving off into the sea, and retreating on land.
What can we do? Even if we dramatically reduce emissions over the next several decades, more than a third of the world’s remaining glaciers will melt by 2100. When it comes to sea ice, 95 percent of the Arctic’s oldest and thickest ice has already disappeared. Furthermore, scientists predict that if emissions continue to rise uncontrollably, the Arctic might be ice-free in the summer as early as 2040, owing to rising ocean and air temperatures.
This is a significant problem in our world right now, so it is crucial that we all unite to take action before it is too late!
As we get closer and closer to summer, I’m sure we all can’t wait for grueling hot days during a heat wave where the air conditioning doesn’t work, and towns advising us not to wash cars or water lawns frequently to save water while in a drought. Not all of summer is like this, but it might be if carbon emission levels continue to increase. Especially in Southwest America and in the Great Plains, Nasa reports that there is an 80 percent likelihood of a decades-long megadrought in future years. This leads to reduced soil moisture, ultimately causing a decrease in agriculture.
Unfortunately, carbon emissions and greenhouse gasses contribute to the likelihood of having droughts and heat waves in the United States. Shown below are the predicted soil moisture distributions of North America in 70 years. On the left is a projection if we reduce current emissions, and on the right is the projection if we continue to increase emissions every year as we are now.
But firstly, what is classified as a drought and heat wave?
Heat waves can be classified as a series of unusually hot days, and can cause agricultural loss, wildfires, and droughts. A drought is a period of time when an area or region receives below normal precipitation. Droughts can last as short as 15 days, or decades as it’s hard to pinpoint when a drought has started or ended. The effects of a drought may take months or years to actually affect wildlife, vegetation, or people, thus causing the vagueness.
Increased carbon emissions contribute to longer heat waves and drought periods. As carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses heat up the planet, more water evaporates into the atmosphere, which in turn raises the temperature further and decreases the amount of groundwater used for agriculture and human consumption. Additionally, when more carbon is present in the atmosphere, the atmosphere is able to trap more heat in, resulting in higher temperatures. The effects of carbon emissions can already be seen all across the country. For example, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average number of heat waves that occurred in a city in the 1960s was 2, while it’s now 6. The average duration of a heat wave has also increased from 3 days to 6.
To summarize, reducing your carbon footprint and limiting your own emissions can help decrease the probability of long-term droughts that many areas of the US are already facing and help limit the duration of heat waves.
When the topic of climate change is discussed, many people divert their thinking to the burning of fossil fuels as a result of industrial processes. However, there are many other types of pollution that are also heavily affecting our Earth, like eutrophication.
Eutrophication is the process of uncontrolled and rapid algae growth. It is mainly caused by harmful algal blooms (HABs). An HAB is an algal bloom that causes negative impacts to other organisms via the production of natural algae-produced toxins, mechanical damage to other organisms, or by other means. They are caused by three main factors: external and internal nutrients, warm temperatures, and water stability. Algae can prosper off nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers and can thrive in warm waters. When more algae is produced, more cyanotoxins, toxins produced by cyanobacteria, are produced, and there are three main types that can be harmful to animal life: microcystis, anabaena, and cylindrospermopsin. Overall, these cyanotoxins produce deadly chemicals and when consumed, they can cause fever, vomit, nausea, headache, and liver and kidney toxicity.
With the increased number of HABs, the surface of the body of water is covered, blocking sunlight from going into the water. This stops photosynthesis in plants in the water, leading to less oxygen in the water. The algae die due to the low oxygen levels, so they float to the bottom of the body of water and are decomposed by microorganisms and bacteria. The decomposers use oxygen in the process, reducing oxygen levels in the lake, putting the lake in a state of hypoxia. This leads to the death of marine life, converting the body of water into a dead zone. This can lead to many problems, including recreational purposes, food, economic value, biodiversity, and the water supply all being affected.
Currently, this is a major problem in the United States and needs to be taken into consideration until it’s too late.
~ IAGB Youth Member, Kishan Angadi
What is ocean acidification?
Ocean acidification is the lowering of ocean pH over time due to an intake of CO2 from the atmosphere. When carbon dioxide dissolves in water, carbonic acid is produced. This carbonic acid then dissociates, producing free hydrogen ions which “steal” free carbonate ions from the water. These carbonate ions are important as they are used to make calcium carbonate, which is used to make the shells and skeletons of many marine animals.
Coral bleaching is when the algae that live within the corals leave due to environmental stressors such as increasing ocean temperatures and ocean acidification. Without the algae, the corals cannot survive, destroying the reefs. As coral reefs are home to thousands of species, this affects the ocean food chain on a large scale.
Approximately 20 percent of the world’s population derives at least one-fifth of its animal protein intake from fish.1 Much of the seafood we eat is affected by ocean acidification. Crabs, oysters, clams, mussels, and shrimp will have difficulty creating strong shells and exoskeletons, making it more difficult for them to survive. When their population diminishes, the population of the fish that eat them also decreases, disrupting the whole ocean food chain.
Many jobs and economies around the world also depend on seafood. Decreasing harvests could hurt the developing nations that have few agricultural alternatives.
Humans also depend on coral reefs for storm protection and tourism opportunities. Coral reef plants and animals are important sources of new medicines being developed to treat cancer, arthritis, human bacterial infections, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, viruses, and other diseases.2
Ocean acidification is one of the many detrimental impacts of the increased amounts of CO2 in our atmosphere, and it demonstrates just how important it is that we each do all that we can to reduce our collective carbon footprint!
In the past two years, the term diseases has been prevalent in the lives of everyone around the globe. Headlines about the coronavirus disease and its progression seem almost non-stop. Infectious diseases can spread respiratorily (like COVID-19) as well as through food, insect bites, or direct contact.
With temperatures substantially increasing each year, diseases are spreading significantly more than ever before. The National Library of Medicine warns that the issue of water-borne and vector-borne infectious diseases will be exacerbated by the increase in temperatures and changes to precipitation caused by climate change1. For water-borne diseases, extreme climate events that have been linked to climate change, such as heavy precipitation and floods2 may increase the risks for infectious diseases spreading through water systems. Warmer temperatures also have been linked to illnesses from pathogens such as Salmonella and Campylobacter2. Vector-borne diseases are those that are spread through blood-feeding carriers such as mosquitoes or ticks. Mosquitoes breed in warmer areas and Earth’s rising temperatures create a better environment for them to thrive in, facilitating the spread of the diseases they carry. Examples of vector-borne diseases include dengue fever or malaria.
Inviting nominations for the next IAGB Youth Spotlights! The IAGB youth initiative spotlights talented local youth who have demonstrated outstanding contributions to art, sports, or the community. Nominees must be 25 years of age or younger, and they must have lived in the New England area.
Founded in 2002, Cradles to Crayons provides children from birth through age 12, living in homeless or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive – at home, at school, and at play. We supply these items free of charge by engaging and connecting communities that have with communities that need.