The 17th biennial NFIA convention in Chicago, which was supposed to be a national level jamboree, did not attract even 250 people at their gala banquet. This was a small number compared to some regional and city level meetings we had in the past.
It is indeed shame for the 34-year-old National Federation of India Associations, an umbrella organization of FIAs of various states. The inaugural event on October 12 was attended by little over 100 people and the attendance on the following two days was very dismal. This was despite the sincere efforts by two very respected organizers. The convention on October 13, scheduled eight panel discussions in its day-long program with thought-provoking subjects. But they were attended by a few people only. You may wonder why? I can ascribe many reasons for this poor show.
First of all, we Indians lack Indianness in our hearts. We selectively choosy and identify ourselves with the region or the state of India we come from. Thus we call oureselves Gujaratis, Punjabis, South Indians, and North Indians first than calling ourselves as Indians. If it is a convention of a particular regional or language group it will be flooded by that community members but when it comes to the national convention under the theme of unity, we simply don’t put enough interest.
Clash of intrests and egos is another reason to turn any national event into a big failure. The so-called community leaders pretend to be the supporters, but they leave no stone unturned to hijack the event if it is not the way they want.
I also blame organizers for making misleading announcement and promises. In their ads they mention names of all kind of heavy weight guests. The guest lists include the names of high profile politicians and ministers without having any written confirmation from them. Many people attend the conventions to listen to these dignitaries, but when people see no such speakers, they get discouraged, and organizers lose their credibility. Such organizers’ abilities and seriousness are always doubted. Repeat of such false announcements make the people to believe it is a waste of money and time to attend such events. That was what happened to NFIA convention.
I am also sorry to mention here that our so-called leaders do very little, but expect a lot in terms of rewards and recognition. They should understand that without service no recognition comes forth.
If one does even 5 percent of good work for the community, one deserves appreciation. And I am not here to criticize our respected leaders, who dare to organize such events, but my sincere advice to them is that if they really want to serve the community and organize meetings and conventions, they should first shed their egos and differences, muster support of all, work with all sincerity, with good understanding and dignity. Otherwise, all their efforts will go down the drain bringing them bad reputation. Surely that is not their objective of holding such a meeting or convention.