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Adding Spirit, Talents, and Color to our Culture, Causes, and Celebrations

The Asian presence has multiplied many folds in the Indianapolis Metropolitan area and throughout the State of Indiana in the last few decades. Today there may be upward of 75, 000 Asian Americans in education and research, medicine, various professions and critical skills, the arts and culture, and service industry. The Asian Americans own hundreds of businesses of a variety of nature and employ thousands of Hoosiers.

The Asian American Alliance (founded by Dr. Albert Chen, CEO & President, Telamon Corporation based in Carmel, Indiana) has promoted the Asian American presence, interests, and contributions in central Indiana for the past eight years. Recently another endeavor, a bi-monthly publication: “Asian ACCESS” Newsmagazine, published in Munster, Indiana and distributed throughout the State. In addition, there are frequent articles and media reports in every major Indiana newspaper and local media outlet, and educational and business publications. Suddenly, we encounter people of many cultures and ethnicities in our school hallways, unfamiliar languages spoken by passengers arriving and departing at the Indianapolis International Airport, professionals at Eli Lilly, Roche Diagnostics, Telamon and several multi-national businesses and auto industry plants, at ethnic and international celebrations, and occasionally on the streets of our cities.

As an adopted Hoosier for the last forty years, seeing this incredible convergence of the people, cultures, faiths and festivals, and talents and investments from around the world in the often-ignored Hoosier Heartland and the emerging renaissance of global presence warms my spirit. This is occurring due to the hard work of civic and business leaders, the tireless work of ethnic and international organizations, and individuals who believe and promote that “Diversity is our new great frontier of opportunities.” Our diversity has added much to our strengths and civic pride; already attracted, and carries the potential of unimagined investments and exchange from far away places in the not-too-distant future.

To this end, our institutions, leaders, foundations, societal framework, and law-enforcement have the opportunity and responsibility to recognize this growing, and a largely invisible silent minority, segment of our Asian American population. As a serious welcome and humanitarian commitment, we must thoughtfully explore the strengths that their presence, proud initiatives, pioneering momentum and make basic, vital, and reasonable and needed accommodations based on faith, circumstances, and traditions to serve this Hoosier population. We should encourage and make room for them to seamlessly integrate into our communities and contribute to the growth, prosperity, spirit, and image of our State and Nation.

We know, much like the generations of immigrants before them, the Asian Americans cannot do this alone. They need encouragement and friends who see to it that Asian American concerns are understood and appreciated, cultural sensitivities are respected, their gifts and contributions are fairly recognized and rewarded, and we meet their fundamental needs to become productive Hoosiers. Many faith-based, service and cultural Asian organizations are tirelessly working to serve their own communities, but we need a strengthened Asian American Alliance with a mandate to serve and promote the interests of all Asian Americans in central Indiana, to guide and help them towards mainstreaming their ideas, interests, and investments into the Hoosier fabric and realize their dreams. Even amidst its own financial struggles, the Asian American Alliance has already convinced us of its own commitment and that of the growing Asian American population’s collective commitment to be responsible partners in central Indiana’s worthy causes.


Asian American Alliance successfully organized its fifth annual “Race for All Races” recently to promote diversity and raise scholarship funds for the Indianapolis Public High School students. Participants had the option to do a 5-Kilometer Walk, 1-Mile Family Walk, or a 5-Mile Run through Indianapolis Downtown streets. The Race began at the historic Indianapolis City Market. The nearly 700 participants from many Asian nationalities and other Hoosiers were greeted by several civic and media celebrities, including the Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson and Ms. Juana Watson, Senior Advisor for Latino and Immigrant Affairs to Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels who brought greetings from the Governor. The West Plaza of the City Market was a sea of blue color (the color of this year’s Race T- Shirts and colorful Sikh turbans) and alive with excitement. This year’s entertainment included the Chinese Lion Dance, The Philippine Bamboo Dance, and the Punjabi Bhangra Dance. At the end of the Race, the Punjabi Dhol and Bhangra Music invited all to join in the dance to liven up the festivities
Before the winners in each category of the Race were announced.

For the second year in a row, the Hoosier Sikhs were the largest group, numbering nearly 200 participants including over 50 young people. The “Hoosier Sikhs” Team was organized and supported by Harpreet Sandhu, Maninder Walia, Andrew Van Winkle, Jassi Lalli, Nachhatar Singh, Darshan Singh Darar, Sonia Gill, Komal Kochhar, Jaskaran Kaur, Preeti Kaur, KP Singh and others. The Sikh Educational & Cultural Society and the Godfather Pizza (Amarbir and Harry Singh Ghoman, owners) sponsored this year’s “Race for All Races” and the India Palace Restaurant (Dave Samra, owner) provided Indian tea and Punjabi snacks for the Race. The Barangay Club of Indiana fielded the second largest team and Sallie Mae and Telamon Corp brought the third largest teams.

Major Sponsors of the “2007 Race for All Races” included: Anthem, Clarian Health Partners, Sheraton Indianapolis Hotels & Suites, Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, Indianapolis City Market, Asian American Alliance, Bodkin Associates, Inc., Lumina Foundation for Education, National City Bank, Godfather’s Pizza, HOT 96.3 FM, WISH TV 8, Univision - WIIH, Hoosier Sikhs, Moeller Printing, WNDY-upn23, Telamon, 100.9 WYJZ, WTLC 106.7FM; AM1310 - The Light, IMC - Indy’s Music Channel.

Mayor Bar Peterson in his brief remarks congratulated the Asian American Alliance and its president Glen Kwok and expressed great pleasure to see such diverse, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-generational group of participants in this year’s Race. The mayor accompanied the 5-K walkers part of the way and expressed his personal solidarity with the wonderful cause of the Race. The local WISH TV Channel 8, a proud Race Sponsor, provided several live broadcasts from the Race venue. Ms. Mie Young Reed served as the Chairperson and Ms. June Kiyomoto served as the Coordinator of the Race.


A record number, over 165 not-for-profit organizations participated in the 2007 Community Fair organized in commemoration of the sixth anniversary of the September 2001 terrorist attack. This Community Fair is co-sponsored each year by the United Way of Central Indiana and Office of the Mayor of Indianapolis. The Fair gathering took place around the historic Monument Circle’s beautiful urban space in the heart of Indianapolis under a mostly sunny Indiana sky. The thoughts of the horrific events of six years ago were not far from our mind and yet one was struck by the concept of this creative commemoration and going forward with America’s business and future.

The goal of the Community Fair is to, “promote volunteerism and philanthropic giving to local not-for-profit agencies. The organizations can register volunteers, accept donations, and educate the public about their missions.” According to Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, “In the same way we helped each other heal in the days following September 11, 2001, we should remember our strong desire to help one another and carry it forward to every day of our lives. Together, we can prevent hate, lift the spirit of the community, and promote tolerance and cooperation.”

Besides the Asian American Alliance and the Sikh Educational & Cultural Society of Indianapolis, there were non-profit organizations that covered the whole spectrum of services and opportunities that serve and enrich Central Indiana: theater, arts, museums, health services, American Red Cross, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Boys & Girls Cub of Indianapolis, information and referral groups, and faith and cultural organizations.

The simple Hoosier Sikh booth, with the backdrop of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument behind them, offered information about the upcoming events at the Sikh Temple and 2007 Race for All Races in which Sikh Americans participate in large numbers and this year were among the Sponsors. Grateful for the opportunity to participate, they answered questions about their faith-mandated Sikh physical appearance that includes beards and turbans which has been the subject of much harassment and problems of mistaken identity and unprovoked violence. Hoosier Sikhs also used this opportunity to learn about the other nonprofit organizations in the Community Fair and getting ideas where they may be able to work in solidarity with others in the future to add to the quality of life of our City and State and to serve better their own community.

Volunteers at the Hoosier Sikh booth included Harpreet Sandhu, Maninder Walia, Andrew Van Winkle, Tarlok Singh, Pavitar Singh, Jassi Lalli, Amarbir and Harry Ghoman, Narvinder Singh Bhola, Sukhdev Singh, and KP Singh.

I was grateful to see the Hoosier Sikh leadership recognize the value of being partners and not just distant spectators to the significant community events and happenings. Everyone who visited with us was kind, thoughtful, and interested in Sikh culture and traditions. It was a special pleasure to welcome our Honorable Mayor to our booth.

Kanwal Prakash “KP” Singh
Indianapolis, Indiana USA



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