Who lives, who loves, who tells our stories? – Best American Indian Magazine | San Jose California

At a time when ethnic media entities are slowly being strangled or seriously threatened, Currents of India continues to forge ahead in its attempt to tell stories of fairness and solidarity, gathering a loyal community of readers and subscribers, even as a lack of trust besets the news industry.

In many ways, the story of Currents of India is the story of the journey of Indian immigrants.

During its historic early years in the late 80s and 90s, visionary founders Arvind Kumar, Ashok Jethanandani and Vandana Kumar designed Currents of India like a newspaper printed to highlight the sensibilities of the first generation of displaced Indians. With India in mind, there was a calendar of events, numerous articles examining the many signifiers of “home” and stories analyzing the desi identify. The hunger for these events and stories was palpable, with readers asking for more and the letters to the editor column teeming with entries.

In response, the magazine gradually grew from an eight-page pamphlet to a 100+ page magazine over the first two decades, maintaining its original mandate of publishing a strong calendar of events.

“If an event is not listed in Currents of India, is this really happening? asked the consul general of San Francisco ironically a few years ago. His point was made.

Lithuanian journalist Rasa Gustaitis recently told me that she and her late husband are subscribers to Currents of India “for concert news from some of India’s great musicians who have played in the area.”

And the famous musician Zakir Hussain commented how Currents of India brought
“news of the great gifts of Indian culture” for us in the United States, pointing Currents of India‘ role of chronicler of the diaspora.

Over the years, the events section of the magazine has grown as the community has grown. As waves of Indian immigrants shaped life in America, Currents of India settled in documenting the nuances of their stories. The technology industry grew, promotions arrived, children arrived, new homes were acquired, the construction of temples and gurdwaras began, and the currency of the present began to supplant the nostalgia of the past.

In 2006, Vandana Kumar assumed full responsibility for leading the future of the magazine. Under his leadership, the magazine began to define itself through the work of its editors and editors.

Favorite bylines were eagerly awaited. Readers saved past copies on coffee tables for those nostalgic chai-time moments. Currents of India became a beloved member of the family with whom familiar conversations could be relived and revisited.

Echoing this sentiment, at the magazine’s 25and anniversary celebrations, Mythili Kumar, Artistic Director of Abhinaya Dance Company, noted that in her family, Currents of India reads “cover to cover” and many issues are preserved as a cultural resource.

In 2012, when I became editor of Currents of India, 144 pages were printed each month – a rich repository of cultural, spiritual, travel, political and literary reflections. I read and absorbed essays by writers whose ideas challenged and captivated me, strengthening my editorial courage: writers like Sandip Roy, Ranjani Iyer Mohanty, Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan, Benedito Ferrao, Anita Felicelli, Anirvan Chatterjee, Aniruddh Chawla, Kamala Thiagarajan, Jeanne E. Fredriksen, Sarita Sarvate and Kalpana Mohan to name a few.

From left to right: Jaya Padmanabhan with IC Writer Kalpana Mohan

these Currents of India the writers upended what was normative, rooting the personality of the Indian ethnic minority (model and otherwise) into the tenor of American reality. They brandished rhetoric and argument-like electrical drills, and the rewards piled up. Currents of India has become a brand to be reckoned with.

At one of these award ceremonies, when Currents of India has been mentioned more than half a dozen times, Vandana remarked with justified pride, “We’re like the little engine that could.”

But the sands were shifting under the publishing industry. Facebook and Twitter had entered the media world. These giants have commandeered the advertising industry, drastically reducing and appropriating small business revenue streams. The media world has collapsed as it has been subsumed by unchecked social media posts.

In 2018, Vandana made a tough call to shut down print operations, and Currents of India became non-profit and fully digital. I confess that at the time, I was deeply dismayed by this decision, clinging to the joys of the magazine’s physical presence in my life.

With a mixture of concern and admiration, I watched Currents of India adapt to the crowded online media space. The struggles were many, and Vandana and I often reminisced about the time spent together printing the magazine each month, a nostalgic analysis of our workflow process, so different from the mercurial immediacy of online publishing.

By choosing a collaborative framework, the Currents of India The team forged cross-ethnic partnerships to engage readers in a pluralistic way, conveying a broad ethnic lens. This perhaps reflected the evolution of the Diaspora as a recognizable and, some might even say, influential player in America.

According to Vandana, Currents of India is a community gatherer, using community storytelling, – retaining the voices of and from the South Asian community – to connect with readers and transcend cultural boundaries. It turns out to be a powerful combination.

The weekly newsletters are packed with articles on Black Lives Matter, Covid-19 virus mutations, affordable housing, transnational abandonment and immigration, as well as fusion cuisine recipes, film and book reviews, Diwali celebrations and caregiver profiles.

Currents of India was responsible for building community, breaking down the silos that existed,” loyal follower GS Sathya said a decade ago, and that remains remarkably true today.

So let’s celebrate 35 incredible years of Currents of Indiaan online journal that belongs to you and me. Indiacurrents.com tells our story – negotiating our desi presence in this complex, multifaceted and often unsettling land we now call residence while remaining connected to a complex, multi-faceted and often unsettling country we once called residence.