Iagb Spotlight – TMM


Our community spotlight this month is on the Tamil organizations in the New England Area – TMM (Tamil Makkal Mandram) and NETS (New England Tamil Sangam).

We spoke with TMM’s President Mr. Ramesh Dayalan (RD) and Vice-President Mr. Ramesh Kumar (RK).

IAGB: Tell us about your organization, its history, and its EC structure.

RD & RK: TMM was officially started in 2015 as a non-profit by eight people. The informal family gatherings started in 2010 in Nashua, and it grew into TMM because of the interest of the community. The board consists of nine members. The EC has no set number of members. Our term is two years and one has to be in the EC for 2 years to join the board and the president should serve one term in a board to be a president. 

IAGB: What is the mission of TMM? 

RD & RK: Our main goal is to enrich the Tamil language and culture and perform charity. 50% of our collections go to charity. With the goal of promoting the language, we promote all area Tamil schools so our next generations can keep the language alive. We do have a Literary Circle group, which conducts Tamil based event on a small scale once in two months.

IAGB: Tell us about your events. Which one is your flagship event?

RD & RK: We do multiple events every year. Our largest one, which is also our flagship event is Pongal, which happens in late January. We enforce the Tamil language in this event, so every item on stage is in Tamil only. In our other events, we do not enforce the language and are more open. Ours is an open organization and everyone is welcome to attend our events. Almost fifty non-Tamil families attended this year’s Pongal event. It is a huge cultural event where kid’s and adults’ talent is showcased. We had about 270 Cultural participants, around 100 kids participated in drawing, coloring and painting competition. Overall we had about 900 attendees. The photo booth at this year’s event consisted of life-size cutouts of various Tamil scholars (Thiruvalluvar, Bharathiyar & Kamban ). People attend it for the grand experience. Some of our other events are Tamil New Year, Summer Olympics, Cricket Tournament, Volleyball / Throwball Tournament, Diwali, etc. For Diwali, we try to bring an artist or troupe from India. In between, we also conduct some workshops like events, for example, Rubik’s cube, Yoga, college preparation, etc. In this year’s New Year event, we are inviting all area Tamil Schools to keep up with our mission of enriching and preserving the language. We also did a Golu competition this year. We have another event coming up in 2 months, which will focus on drama, speech, and music. We are also in the process of planning a family camping trip this summer. TMM is all about bringing Tamil speaking people together and building lifelong friendships. Early once we screen 2 or 3 Tamil movies to our members for a discounted price. 

IAGB: Where do you see your organization in the next five years?

RD & RK: We want to continue spreading the language and our culture and keep up with our charity goals. Our goal is to bring Tamil and other community people closer and provide them many different unique events throughout the year. One of our important ones is to support the formation of Harvard Tamil Chair, which is for establishing a department of Tamil at Harvard University. 

IAGB: What are some of the other initiatives of your organization? 

RD & RK: Like we mentioned, charity is one of our core goals. In the last 5 years, we have donated $20,000. In the US, some of our beneficiaries have been Harvard Tamil Chair, Epilepsy foundation, local school districts, fire stations, and soup kitchens. In India, we work with Tamil Naidu Foundation to give back to charities there. 2 years ago, there was a major flood and we donated around $3500 towards building houses for impacted families. We also donate to VisionAid, which makes a direct impact on the people of India. We are currently looking at building classrooms for some schools in India. We also choose a school district in TamilNadu, and give an award to a top student and his/her teacher.

Our Youth wing is significantly active. They conduct the TMM Olympics themselves including fundraising.

IAGB: What are some of your challenges?

RD & RK: Like most organizations, our challenge is also to bring people to events sometimes. The bigger one is selling tickets when we bring any talent/troupe from India since the costs are high. 

IAGB: How are you different from NETS?

RD & RK: TMM started as a family gathering that eventually grew big enough for us to host our first Pongal event in a church auditorium. 325 people showed up and that is when we realized the need for another Tamil organization. NETS do it in their style and we have our own style. Whenever we conduct an event, we always make sure that we are slightly doing it on a bigger scale than our last year’s event. NETS is more active in the Southern part of the region, and TMM more in the Northside area. We worked with NETS during the Harvard Tamil Chair Fundraising and we will always work together if there is any need to enrich Tamil Language. 

IAGB: Tell us about your experience as President and Vice President of TMM.

RD & RK: Our team is a very hardworking team, which makes our jobs easier. 

We always work together as one team. We always listen to other’s input, innovative ideas, and feedback. The great thing about our team is that everyone has the same frequency and wavelength. After every event, the team gets together in a restaurant to unwind and have a fun and positive postmortem. We truly enjoy being part of such an amazing team. We would like to add that we are very appreciative of IAGB’s work of bringing all regional organizations together. Thank you.

IAGB: Tell us about yourself.

Ramesh Dayalan: I live in Nashua with my wife Sivasakthi Thirunavukkarasu and 2 2 kids – Sruthi Ramesh (15) and Karthik Ramesh (8). I work in a Financial Company in Boston area. I have 20+ years of work experience in various IT and Financial sectors. I love to be part of the community and do service as much as I can. I have been a part of TMM for last 10 years and am one of the founding members.

Ramesh Kumar: I have over 23 years of experience in the IT field and have led numerous software engineering teams at an array of major Boston based organizations like Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, StateStreet Financial Corporation, Hachette Book Group, Digitas, EnerNOC, Massachusetts General Hospital & SDL. I have an unquenchable thirst for learning new technologies and like to lead from the front. Outside of work, I like to play all type of sports, but cricket is my front runner. I like to spend time with family and friends, watch Pats all season and watch Celtics, Bruins, and Red Sox if they go to playoff :). Apart from being a part of the TMM team, I am also part of a few other non-profits. I live in Lexington, MA with my wife Thilaka and two boys, Arkesh Kumar (13) & Krithesh Kumar (8). As part of TMM, my ultimate goal is simple “Every single Tamil family in MA and NH should be aware of the name “TMM” and every one of them should step into some TMM Events in the future.

Visit https://www.tmm-usa.org/ to learn more about TMM.

We spoke with NETS President Ms. Shanthy Sundaramurthy.

IAGB: Tell us about your organization, its history and its EC structure.

Shanthy: New England Tamil Sangam (NETS) is a non-profit 501 (C)(3) organization providing the full range of Tamil Cultural activities and Community Service to the New England region primarily Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. The members of the NETS are the residents of the New England region and have an interest in Tamil cultural and social events. That’s why Dr. Sivamani named New England Tamil Sangam. He is the founder of this organization. It was started by 3-4 people in the early 1970s Siva Mani, Lalitha Mani, K.K. Sankaran, and Krishnan Iyer. Its EC Structure consists of President, Secretary, and Treasurer.

When the need arises we fill Vice-President, Joint-Secretary and Join-Treasurer roles.

IAGB: Where do you see your organization in the next five years?

Shanthy: NETS is marching towards our 50th year soon. In the next five years: 

a) We will be enhancing more cultural events involving more and more talented kids who want to portrait Tamil Heritage and Culture.

b) Bring more aids for the benefit of NETS Members in case of emergency, help, and support needed. 

c) NETS, as of today, has more than 1500 members and is expected to grow further in the coming years.

IAGB: What is the mission of NETS? 

Shanthy: Our Sangam provides means and mechanisms for many talent displays. It also provides a great place to have some social contacts. We help our members build new friendships and foster our unity. To help facilitate these, we organize a lot of Social Events. We do conduct Learning Sessions and Speeches by various Tamil Scholars. Our motive is to spread our old and ancient Indian Language as much we can. 

IAGB: Tell us about your events. Which one is your flagship event?

Shanthy: We do four events in a year and when the opportunity rises we do more than four. We celebrate Pongal Vizhaa, Chithirai Vizha, Annual Summer Picnic & Children’s Vizha.

Our flagship event is our famous PONGAL VIZHA with a unique theme every year. We attract 1000 people every year who participate in our cultural event which includes Dancing, Singing, Drama, and Instrumental. We make all kids are given equal opportunity to display their unique talents. We make sure all our events are only in TAMIL.

IAGB: What are some of the other initiatives of your organization? 

Shanthy: NETS is so proud to be the main backbone of the Harvard Tamil Chair in the New England Region. We supported bringing Harvard Tamil Chair in the prestigious Harvard University by involving and organizing various fundraiser events. Our Team of 2015-2017 had made this possible. Some of the notable fundraisers involved celebrities from India (Mr. Y.G. Mahendra from Drama Genre, Mr. Karthick Iyer from Instrumental Genre, Karthikeya Sivasenapathy – Socialist and Reformist). NETS supported TNF Walkathon Fundraiser held in NH during 2017 which helped to bring more support to underprivileged kids in India for their studies.

IAGB: What are some of the challenges?

Shanthy: Being united all the time is always a challenge for mankind. We face different challenges in different events. Some of them are easy to overcome while some of them take time. But we overcome all challenges with our integrity and our experience. 

IAGB: Tell us about your experience as a President of NETS.

Shanthy: In the beginning, I was naturally nervous. My being a woman as the president of NETS was a challenge. I had to face all the challenges as they came. I had great expectations that our team members to be the pillar for NETS. I have learned a lot in these past few months. They have always supported me and stood by my side. As a woman, I want to encourage and support all other women who work so hard for their families and for their community. It is never easy for a person to remain balanced. The great Dr. APJ Kalam once said that the great leadership quality should be to ask ourselves, “What can we give?” As a president of NETS, I ask the same question. What can we give to the NETS community? I took an oath of this office to do as much as possible for the welfare of our NETS community.

IAGB: Tell us about yourself, Shanthy.

Shanthy Sundaramurthy: I grew up in Thiruchirapalli, Tamilnadu, India. It is a beautiful city where the great rivers Cauvery and Kollidam split. I graduated from college majoring in Accounting and Marketing. I am married to Dr. Sundaramurthy. He is an Electrical Engineer. He showed me how to love people. I moved to the USA in the early 90s. I am the mother of seven beautiful children. I have worked as an Accountant for the last 17 years. Lately, I own a business. We are blessed and are happy as a family. I love people in general. I have a special love for Tamil in my heart.

Visit http://new.netamilsangam.org/ to learn more about NETS.

— Yogita Miharia & Sanjay Kudrimoti