Our community spotlight this month is on IANH (India Association of New Hampshire). Yogita Miharia of IAGB spoke to Mr. Balaji Krishnan, the current President of IANH.
Yogita: Thank you Mr. Balaji for talking to IAGB. Please tell us about your journey with IANH
Balaji: I have been associated with IANH since 2000. It started when my kids were in elementary school and they participated in the educational activities conducted by IANH. When they were in 2nd and 3rd grade, they participated in the spelling bee for the first time. From there, they went to the National spelling bee for 5 consecutive years. When my kids graduated from middle school, I took the role of the education chair in IANH, and when the then president stepped down subsequently, I was elected to that position. I have been the President for last 6 years.
Yogita: Tell us more about the history and mission of IANH
Balaji: IANH started in 1989 by 10 people with three goals in mind – foster well-being of Indian community by organizing cultural, charitable, and educational activities, bring political awareness and goodwill between India and US. Prithvi Kumar, Dr. Tej Dhakar and others were the pioneers in founding IANH. We have various committees to handle activities like education, youth, cultural, public services, public relations, multimedia, and membership. Our mission is to connect the local Indian community and promote public & charitable services. IANH is apolitical but we give platform to political candidates to increase awareness. As of today, IANH has about 400 family members and 125 life members.
Yogita Tell us about IANH events. Which one is your flagship event?
Balaji: We host a variety of events. On the cultural side, we have a Spring festival in May and Diwali celebration in Oct/Nov timeframe. The Spring festival is our flagship event, and it consists of various cultural dance/music competitions.
My personal favorite is the education related events. Through educational contests only, I learned about IANH almost 20 years ago. Most of our youth group is also involved in the educational & public service initiatives. We have an education chair, whose primary responsibility is to organize all education contests, which happens in March/April timeframe. About 300 to 400 kids participate in various bees – math, science, spelling etc. The preparation for this event starts in January. We also run workshops to help parents and kids prepare for them.
In addition to these events, we also conduct various workshops for social awareness, visa camps, fundraisers etc.
IANH also has some regular public service initiatives. Once a month, we serve the soup kitchens in Manchester, Derry and Nashua.
This year our Diwali event is going to be virtual, spread over 2 days. One day for dance and the other for music.
Yogita: Any other initiatives that you would like to tell us about?
Balaji: IANH’s youth group does several events on their own. They bring a variety of speakers to talk about youth matters. I would like to encourage young parents to attend these so that they can be better prepared when their kids go to high school and college.
Yogita: Tell us about yourself and your family
Balaji: I am originally from Chennai, yes where Kamala Harris’ mother is from ☺ Nowadays everyone knows more about Chennai because of her ☺ I came to the US in 1989. I did my under graduation and graduation from the City university of NY, after which I worked there for 4 years, then moved to the Boston area. I was part of the first wave of Fidelity’s migration to Merrimack, NH. Since then, I have started my own business, with employees all over the US.
Most of my siblings live in the US. My wife and I live in Nashua. We have a son and a daughter, both live in Los Angeles. Our daughter finished her MD and is a resident doctor in UCLA, and our son is an entrepreneur.
Yogita: Would you like to share with us some fun memories or moments from your IANH journey?
Balaji: Honestly, every Exec meeting is a lot of fun and we all look forward to it. It is like one big family gathering that we do at various members’ homes. Everything has changed with COVID, but the last one was in a park so we could see each other and maintain social distance as well. Because of the platform IANH provided, my kids had a lot of success with the spelling bees. So obviously those are some of my favorite moments in IANH. I am very grateful to IANH and hope all young parents take advantage of this platform.
Yogita: What message would you like to give our readers?
Balaji: My message is mainly for parents of young kids. Please engage with IANH & other community service organizations when your children are young & impressionable. The public service, education & cultural activities will provide a strong foundation for your children. Along with that, IANH also organizes many talks, etc. for parents during the two days of various bees, where they can learn a lot about high school and college prep along with other IANH initiatives.