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Indians in the Central Valley: Making A Home Away From Home

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”

–Maya Angelou  

What is home? Is it a physical place? Is it an emotional place of relationships? Or is it a combination of both? Traditionally, home is where we have shelter, comfort, security, acceptance, and above all, the freedom to be at ease with ourselves. However, in our increasingly globalized world, the definition of home is one that is changing. It is no longer simply a place of familial relationships, or even familiar townships. As we have begun traveling far in search of new horizons, we have started to have to make our home wherever we find ourselves, both physically and with the people we find ourselves surrounded by.

Last year, I made a 645 mile move to Fresno to start make a new home. While many things were different my new home in this new place—less rain, more heat—there were some things I was pleasantly surprised to find. One of these pleasant things was the large number of people of Indian descent in the valley. However, it was not just how many people of Indian heritage that I found exciting, but how at home they seem to be in the Central Valley. As someone once said, “home is where heart is.” And it certainly seems as though the Central Valley has captured the heart of immigrants, including Indians. In a home, each member feels at ease with who they are, without any pressure and pretensions. The vast Central Valley, with abundant orchards, diverse farmland and warm hearted residents, welcomes newcomers (as evidenced by the diversity of ethnic groups in the valley) from far away lands, and these visitors have assimilated themselves in their new home by sharing their rich culture and many talents.

“Feeling at home” is evident by the demographic diversity of Indians. Even though these people are descendants of India, they represent a multiplicity of regions, languages, and religions, similar to that of India itself. People from different regions of India—from South to North, and East to West—found their home in the Valley. People follow different faiths, including Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam, Jainism, Buddhism, etc. It is unsurprising that the Valley is a home to Hindu temples, Sikh gurudwaras, and many other spiritual centers of Indian traditions.  It seems that diversity of the whole country is found in one region of California.

There is a longing in every human heart to be at home—to feel a sense of belonging—wherever we are and in whatever we do.  In the Valley Indians hold various jobs and are often described as a “highly successful group.” However, what is missed in such statements is that Indians, like their fellow Americans, hold various job roles: farmers, real-estate agents, restaurant owners, cooks, gas-station owners, telemarketers, physicians, professors, scientists, taxi-drivers, public health professionals, nurses, dentists, school teachers, administrations, and many more. It is the San Joaquin Valley’s warm heart that has allowed Indians to make a new home away from home and feel at ease with diverse occupations.

However, diversity and displacement from familiar “homes” are not free from challenges, as highlighted in the news media. These challenges also offer us opportunities to grow, and reclaim unity as neighbors. Research shows that a sense of “belonging” can boost confidence and performance among students. We must cherish diversity—which is the hallmark of both India and the United States—and help create a sense of unity and belonging in our community. I see Fresno State exemplifying commitment to create an environment of “belonging” for its community members. Last year when I moved to join my new academic community at Fresno States, my colleagues at the department of Philosophy and our Dean of College of Arts and Humanities showed kindness and generosity to make me feel at home. Our University’s commitment to diversity, respect, equity, and inclusion is a testament to the Valley’s spirit of hospitality and to the greater mission of recognizing our shared humanity. It is the presence of diversity that attracted me to Fresno State. We must take responsible actions that make all people around us feel at home, and feel a sense of belonging. In my classes I make every effort that my students, who come from various social, economic, religious, geographical, linguistic, ethnic, and gender backgrounds, that their voices are heard. As Indians are present in every profession, it is important we take leadership and pride to help our old and new neighbors to feel at home, as we all are tied together in a “single garment of destiny,” as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so eloquently put it. According to Gandhi:

“The ability to reach unity in our diversity will be the perfect present for our test of our civilization.”

By Veena Howard

Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy

CSU, Fresno


Visa Camp Fresno California

Visa Camp Fresno CA

Visa Camp was organised in Fresno May 30th 2015  which was organized by Council of Indian Organization Central Valley and Sikh Institute of Fresno.

India’s 68th Independence Day celebration

It is my great honor and privilege to welcome you all to India’s 68th Independence Day celebration in Fresno, the heart of California’s Central Valley and the fruit basket of the world.  The Central Valley is as wonderfully rich in cultural diversity as it is in its agricultural productivity.  On August 23, 2014, the Indian community of the Central Valley will celebrate India’s 68th Independence Day at Fresno State’s Satellite Student Union Hall starting at 4:30 pm.  The celebration is followed by a dinner at 7:00 pm at Elephant Lounge in Clovis.  There will be a special ceremony at the dinner in honor of our guests to express our deep gratitude for their services and cooperation extended to our community.  We are very proud of this tradition of celebration which has been going on since the late sixties.  This year’s celebration includes a vibrant cultural program and a tribute to the world’s largest democracy.  Our guests of honor are the Honorable Shri N. Parthasarathi, Consul General of India, San Francisco and his wife Smt. Geeta Parthasarathi, and Dr. Joseph I. Castro, President, California State University, Fresno and his wife Mary Castro, First Lady, California State University, Fresno.

This is a special year as India has a new government in power in New Delhi under the leadership of Mr. Narender Modi.  The new government is committed to put India on high growth and development path. We wish Mr. Modi all the best in his efforts for improving the image of India and the conditions of the poor and downtrodden people in India.  We hope that his visit to the United States in September revitalizes the ties between the two countries.  The event this year is hosted by the Council of Indian Organizations of Central Valley and co-sponsored by Fresno State’s Central Valley Cultural Heritage Institute, Indian Students Club at Fresno State and the State Bank of India in Fresno.  The Council is a conglomeration of several Indian organizations and groups operating in the Central Valley and replaces the Independence Day Planning Committee.  It is the result of several years of efforts to bring the Council in existence.  We request that you support the Council and its efforts.  If time permits, please join us.  We welcome volunteers.  We now have our website which is  You may wish to check it out from time to time.  We wish you all a very Happy Independence Day Celebration.


Kirpal Singh Sihota

President, Council of Indian Organizations


Bullying The Menace Faced by Our Children in Schools

by Sudarshan Kapoor, PhD.

Note: We are celebrating India’s 68th Independence Day in Fresno. It is a time for joyful celebration but it is also a time for all of us to address the challenges that we and our children face in the United States. One of those challenges is the problem of bullying experienced by our children in schools. Hence, this article for your perusal.

Bullying is apparently an age old problem. It has been rampant in all societies and cultures. Its presence in our schools is a growing concern for parents, teachers, administrators and community leaders. With all the media coverage about school violence and educational emphasis on safe schools, addressing the problem of bullying in schools deserves our attention, resources and commitment.

According to one study 86% of the students said that they turn to lethal violence because of being bullied. Almost the same percentage said that the school shootings are motivated by a desire to get back at those who have hurt them.

Some authorities feel that bullying can be categorized as an epidemic in our society.

What is Bullying? According to Wikipedia, bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively impose domination over others. The behavior is often repeated and habitual.

Behavioral Characteristics: Researchers have identified four major behavioral characteristics associated with bullying. These are:
• Intentional—Children can hurt other children by accident. Bullying, however, is always intentional and meant to cause some sort of harm, whether it is physical or verbal. This behavior may persist even after the victim has asked the bully to stop.
• Repetitive—In most cases, bullying happens repeatedly. Bullies often target children who they know will not do anything about the behavior, so they can continue bullying as long as they like.
• Hurtful—Bullying is a negative behavior that may include physical or verbal harm. The types of hurtful behavior that qualify as bullying are varied, but they all cause harm of some sort to the victim.
• Imbalance of power—If two children hold an equal amount of power, one cannot bully the other. This imbalance of power can come from different sources, including age, size, strength, and social status.

Bullying and Indian children: From time to time, many Indian parents and their children have shared stories of children being bullied in schools, but we do not have a systematic and authentic study on the nature and extent of bullying problem faced by Indian children in schools until recently when the national Sikh Coalition came out with a report on bullying being experienced by Sikh children. Based on the findings of this report and the coverage about the problem in the local press, I wrote an article which appeared in Fresno Bee on April 17, 2014. Below is the article which i would like to share with members of our community.

We all must fight bullying of Sikh children, Fresno Bee, April 17, 2014
Recent media coverage (Fresno Bee, 3/13/2014 and 3/30/2014) of bullying of Sikh children in schools has brought the issue under spotlight. Bullying of Sikh children has been known in the community for quite sometime, but the report released by the Sikh Coalition has heightened the much needed awareness about the harassment, discrimination and prejudice experienced by the Sikh children in our schools. Sikh children who look different because of their attire particularly the male children who wear turban become victims of harassment and ridicule. They wear turban as mandated by their faith. Incidents of violence (bullying) against Sikh children have increased over the years. According to the recent survey conducted by Sikh Coalition, majority of the Sikh children, just over 50% endure school bullying. Over 67% of turbaned Sikh children reported being bullied in schools nationally. To our great chagrin, Fresno came second highest (54.5%) after Indianapolis (55.8%) in terms of Sikh students being bullied in schools. This is quite serious. It reflects sorry state of affairs in our schools. Unfortunately, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 are largely responsible for the violence, hate crimes and discrimination against the Sikhs and their children who wear turbans. It is the total ignorance and the mistaken identity about the Sikhs that contribute to misunderstanding, violence and stereotypes experienced by the Sikhs. Sikhs who hail from Punjab, India have lived in the United State more than a century and have contributed significantly to the social, cultural and economic life of our communities. It is the time to acknowledge their contribution and reverse the cycle of discrimination and prejudice. Though some school districts have policies and programs in place for the prevention and reduction of bullying, it is felt that these are not adequate particularly to address the harassment experienced by the Sikh children. We know that bullying is a very complex phenomenon. We also know from our experience what a damage bullying does to the emotional, mental and physical health of the child. It devastates the life of some children. It is estimated that 160,000 children skip school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by bullies. 15% of all school absenteeism is directly related to fears of being bullied in our schools. It is the time to adopt constructive measures, if not already taken, by our school boards, administrators, teachers, parents and community leaders to address this problem. Here are a few suggestions for consideration: (1) School boards, administrators and teachers in our valley should study the report ‘ GO HOME TERRORIST’- A Report on Bullying Against Sikh American Children. Seven recommendations should be examined carefully for implementation. (2) Anti-bullying policies, programs and procedures, if not developed, be spelled out carefully and shared with parents during the orientation and with advocacy groups. (3) Sikh awareness day celebration should be encouraged on the campuses in the month of November, officially designated month in California. Such celebrations should be part of the diversity celebration plan and will be very appropriate where there is significant Sikh population. (4) In addition, empathy building activities and prejudice reduction workshops and exercises should be considered. This will help in building a culture of peace and acceptance on our school campuses. (5) School boards and administrators should consider recruiting Sikh personnel on their staff. This will help in building bridges of understanding and cooperation with the community. (6) Where there is a significant Sikh population, the community should seriously consider electing members to the school boards and committees in order to influence policies and procedures. (7) A concerted effort by the leaders of the Sikh community along with other community groups and supporters should be launched to reach out the MEDIA which plays a major role in shaping up the image of an ethnic group or community and its leaders.
— Over all, we all have a responsibility in creating safe schools for our children so that they could learn and pursue their dreams to the best of their abilities and without fear and violence.


Celebrating India’s 68th Independence Day Fresno State University

Counsel of Indian Organisation Presents

Celebrating India’s 68th Independence Day Fresno State University


Saturday, August 23, 2014
California State University, Fresno
Satellite Student Union Hall
Doors open at 4 pm, program starts at 4:30 pm
Guests of Honor
Consul General of India San Francisco

The Honorable Shri N Parathasartathi

Smt Geeta Parasarathi


President California State University, Fresno
California State University, Fresno
Dinner Event : 7:00 pm
Elephant Lounge, 80 Shaw Ave, Clovis, CA 9361 2
Tickets for Dinner : $30 per person.
Please RSVP by August 1 5, 201 4
Co-Sponsored By – Central Valley Cultural Heritage Institute, Fresno State, State Bank Of India
Indian Students Club, Fresno State and about 20 Local Indian Organizations and groups. .


India's 68th Independence Day

India Independence Day

President’s Message India’s 67th Independence Day Celebration Fresno CA

The members of the Indian Community in Fresno and the Central Valley are celebrating India’s 67th Independence Day on Saturday, August 24th at 4:30 pm at Fresno State’s Satellite Student Union Hall, followed by a dinner at 7:00 pm at Hope Lutheran Church (northwest corner of Fresno and Barstow Ave.). Dr. Kiran Bedi, a social activist and a prominent leader of the anti-corruption movement in India and Dr. Joseph I. Castro, Fresno State’s new university president are our guests of honor at the celebration. We wish to extend our warm welcome and thanks to Dr. Kiran Bedi for her long travel from India to Fresno and for taking time from her busy schedule to be our chief guest speaker. We also want to offer our heartiest welcome to Dr. Joseph I. Castro, a native son of our valley, as new president of Fresno State, and express our deep thanks for accepting our invitation to give a welcome address at the celebration. We hope to continue building stronger relationships between the University and the Indian community of the Central Valley as we have done in the past. Kirpal Singh Sihota
During the celebration, special tributes are planned in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Gadar Movement, which started in the United States for the freedom of India from British rule and the 150th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda who brought the philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the West. Poster exhibitions in honor of both anniversaries will be on display. At the dinner event, Dr. Kiran Bedi will speak on India Today and Tomorrow. The event this year is hosted by the Council of Indian Organizations of Central Valley and co-sponsored by Fresno State’s Central Valley Cultural Heritage Institute, Indian Students Club at Fresno State and the State Bank of India in Fresno. The Council is a conglomeration of several Indian organizations and groups operating in the Central Valley and replaces the Independence Day Planning Committee. It is the result of several years of efforts to bring the Council in existence. We request that you support the Council and its efforts. If time permits, please join us. We welcome volunteers. We now have our website which is You may wish to check it out from time to time. We wish you all a very Happy Independence Day Celebration.

Kirpal Singh Sihota

Women Rights India Article By Anu Peshawaria

We are again heading towards another draconian law like 498A and 406 (Dowry).

All laws that get passed in India effects each one of us in many ways as all our loved ones reside there and we will always be treated as overseas citizens of india. At this time womens right to property of her spouse is being very hotly debated in India.
When you get married you agree to share more than your feelings, it is also the house and the property. But what property must you share and what remains your own is the question that is being debated in India currently.Photo of Anu Peshawaria

For too long random laws are been framed to strengthen the broken inadequate legal system in India. We are again heading towards another draconian law like 498A (Dowry) if laws continue to be passed in such a casual and un-researched manner All Indian women will be heading to a major social and financial crisis. At present National status doesn’t exist on divorce in India, however, some records show that it is on the rise. With the current laws the end of even the worst marriage, usually spells disaster. The main reason for that is that there is no concept of joint marital property.

If the woman files for divorce, she virtually has no chance of obtaining financial settlement. What is needed is enforcement of existing alimony laws, fixing the broken judicial process and introduction of community property law or joint marital property. The one and only most important concept that can strengthen women in India and bring about a major change is the introduction of community property law in India. This entire talk about giving share in inherited property to women is a very wrong statement and sure enough will be struck down by popular will.
The main issue is that neither spouse should be left penniless or burdened by doing all household chores and look after children all by themselves and the other spouse on the other hand lead a lavish lifestyle.

The concept of marital property or Community property is defined as all property acquired by the man and his wife “during” marriage and not “before” or “after.” Money and property acquired before marriage can also be characterized as community property if it is commingled with separate property. One must remember that besides assets all debts incurred during marriage are also community debts of the couple. In community property states the following are separate property:
1. Gifts given to one spouse,
2. Property spouse owned before marriage and not commingled during marriage,
3. Inheritance, The court and the judges have description however to award separate property in the interest of justice that term is call “equitable distribution”. Where one spouse is unusually weathly due to a large inheritance or property acquired before marriage the court has discretion to award this property to the other spouse . Keep in mind you can change terms of your marital property ownership before your marriage begins with original agreement called pre nuptial agreement, however pre nuptial agreement has to be extremely fair and courts are inclined not to accept them if not executed properly.

The new amendment proposed on divorce of mutual consent has been long overdue and adoption of divorce in grounds of irretrievably break down marriage is very essential to avoid undue harassment and hurling accusation at each other and fabricating evidence leading to misuse of 498 A

I wrote the book “lives on the brink” and thoroughly researched all immigration laws and all international conventions between india and united is important before making suggestions to such important bills a comittee to go over all bills pertaining to women are reviewed by competent persons and proper research is undertaken.


-Anu Peshawaria is An Internationally awarded Indian American lawyer, social activist, and Author. Anu Peshawaria Is unique Indian American lawyer who has expertise in both indian laws as well as US Immigration having served as the First Legal Advisor to the Embassy of india, Washington, DC. She has offices in California, Washington and India . She can be reached at 5102991907 or contacted at

Essay Contest

India’s 67th Independence Day Celebration
Organized by the Council of Indian Organizations of Central Valley

Topic: India’s Freedom Struggle: What it means to me and my family

Open to Middle School and High School children of Parents of Indian Origin. At least one parent must be of Indian origin.

Download contest_forms here . . .

Contest Rules

  1. Participants need to register by: July 6, 2013. Please e mail registration form to:
  2. Entries must be submitted with the official Essay Entry Form. The student must complete the entry form, which includes a stipulation that the essay is the student’s original work and has not been published elsewhere.
  3. Entry forms with the essay must be e-mailed on or before: August 4, 2013. Your essay must be submitted electronically to:
  4. Contest judging is conducted anonymously by the Council of Indian Organizations of Central Valley. Personal information about the student and school must appear ONLY on the entry form and not in the essay.

Essay Format

  1. The essay may be written in English or any other Indian Language
  2. The essay must be 500 words in length for middle school and 750 words for high school, not including the words in the Works Cited page.
  3. The title of the essay should appear at the top of page one; further pages should be numbered on the top right; the student’s name must not appear on the essay.
  4. Essays in the first person narrative style are highly recommended
  5. The essay must be in MLA(Modern Language Association) format (double-spaced and in 12 point type throughout, with one-inch margins on all sides of each page).
  6. The essay must use MLA documentation, including a Works Cited page (list of sources). Note that source material which is directly quoted as well as that which is paraphrased or summarized must be cited.


First, Second and Third Award Winners in each category will be announced. Certificates and cash awards ($100, $75, $50 in each category) will be given on August 24, 2013 at Fresno State. Winners must be present at the event with parents.

For further information please contact: Bindia Patel @ 559-288-6205

Download contest_forms here . . .

The Council of Indian Organizations of Central Valley

The Council is a California nonprofit organization established under the State and Federal Laws governing the non-profit organizations (the Council has submitted application to State and Federal departments for non-profit status).  It is primarily an educational and civic organization based in Fresno, California.  It is non-partisan, secular and nationalist in character and operations.  It’s a conglomeration of various and diverse ethnic, cultural groups and organizations engaged in the betterment and welfare of the people of Indian origin residing in the Central Valley.  Council’s mission is to work toward building a healthy, vibrant and progressive Indian Community through collaboration and networking with groups, organizations and individuals of Indian origin and friends of the Indian Community throughout the Central Valley.  The Council replaces the Indian Independence Day Planning Committee.  It’s objectives are:

The flag of India

The flag of India

1. To honor and celebrate the rich common cultural heritage and diversity of the people of Indian origin living in California Central Valley.

2. To organize national events of historical and educational significance for the benefit of people of Indian origin living in California Central Valley.

3. To encourage dialogue and discussion on issues of common interest and concerns facing the people of Indian origin in the California Central Valley and recommend appropriate actions and plans to address them.

4. To mobilize intellectual, professional and entrepreneurial resources for common good, mutual growth and development of the people of Indian origin in the central valley.

5. To promote interaction, better understanding and healthy relationships between the Indian community and other ethnic and cultural entities in the central valley.

6. To support, collaborate and co-ordinate with Indian organizations and groups with similar goals and objectives in mind.

Background.  For the last several years, India’s Independence Day Planning Committee, predecessor of the Council, has been celebrating India’s Independence Day in collaboration with Fresno State, Various Fresno area Indian organizations and the Consulate of India in San Francisco.  In addition to Independence Day celebration, special tributes and recognitions have been awarded to The Kuka Movement in 2011 and Gadar Movement in 2012.  Cultural programs by various youth groups and special messages from dignitaries such as Dr. John D. Welty, President of Fresno State; Mayor Ashley Swearengin of the City of Fresno, Congressman Jim Costa and the Consul General of India have been the hallmark of the celebration.  Free Indian refreshments are always served at the celebration which is free to the public.  India’s Independence day celebration is also a celebration of India’s diversity reflected in the Indian community residing in the Valley.

The Council plans to continue India’s Independence Day celebration in the future.  This year Council has invited Dr. Kiran Bedi, a well known activist from India as Chief Guest of Honor for Independence Day Celebration to be held on August 24 at Fresno State.  A special dinner is also being arranged in her honor.  The Council also supports Mahatma Gandhi Birthday Celebration at Fresno State which is held in October in the Peace Garden at Fresno State.

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