We had a big drought in India - we felt that maybe we should do something about it.: Becoming Minnesotan

Jagadish Desai, c.2006.
  • Name - Jagadish Desai
  • Gender - Male
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 07.15.2003
  • Patrika, Newsletter of the Hindu Society of Minnesota, October-November 2003.
    Bengali New Year Festival, Messiah Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, March 19, 1980.

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    Background Information

    Many Indian immigrants feel it is important to connect with the larger Indian community in their area, to establish resources for struggling Indian immigrants, and to reach out to educate Minnesotans about Indian culture, too.  It is often difficult for immigrants to find resources to help them when they are so unfamiliar with this new place.  Since India is such a large and diverse country with many languages and religious and cultural traditions, many Indian immigrants participate in religious organizations or samaj and social clubs that bring together members of their individual cultural group.  These groups plan events to celebrate their traditional language, food, music, and other cultural practices from their home regions in India. 

    To learn more about Asian Indian history and culture, visit our Asian Indian Community page.

    • Chapter 1

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    Narrator: Jagadish Desai (JD)

    Interviewer: Polly Sonifer (PS)

    PS:  Tell me about the very beginning of the India Club.  You were one of the founders or the founder?

    JD:  I was one of the founders.  Actually, we had a big drought in India, and there was a relief fund that the government of India was raising.  We felt that maybe we should do something about it.  It so happened that at that time a very famous singer, well-known singer from India, his name was Mr. Talat Mahmood.  People of my generation know who he was.  We learned that he was traveling through the United States, and we thought that it would be nice if we could plan a program for him to come here and raise some money for the relief fund. 

    I had a very good friend at that time; his name was Dr. Raj Dutt.  Raj and I were involved in arranging a lot of musical parties for our Indian friends here.  We used to get together informally.  I talked to Raj about Mr. Talat Mahmood being in this country, and we, together, called Mr. Mahmood’s agent in New York.  They were willing to have him stop by in Minneapolis.  That was in 1973.  So we signed up, and we formed the India Club at that time. 

    Our first program was Mr. Talat Mahmood.  He came here.  There were four or five people who were very instrumental in getting the whole act together, organized.  One was Mr. Madhukar Gupta.  Mr. Gupta was a student at the university, and he had finished and was doing his practical training work in Minneapolis.  But he was single-mindedly determined that he was going to go back to India.  He acted as our treasurer, and he did a fantastic job for taking care of all the details for Mr. Talat Mahmood’s program. 

    There was another gentleman, and his name was Mr. Suresh Nayak.  He used to work for Whirlpool, and he was here for a few years.  He also was an excellent organizer, and he got involved.  Then we had a couple, Anu Zdenek - Anu was a very good singer - and Anu’s husband, Zeke Zdenek.  Zeke was a very good organizer, so Zeke became the secretary.  We all put together an excellent program.  We made some money, and we gave that money to the relief fund of the President of India.  That was the beginning of the India Club, back in 1973.

    By the way, before we even started the club, some of us had started a newsletter for the Indian community, and the newsletter was called Patrika.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun:  A group of people who share a common understanding of the same language, manners, tradition and law.


    Adjective:  Dedicated to following a course of action; decided; resolute.


    Noun:  A long period of time when no rain falls.


    Noun:  Someone who starts or establishes something new, like an organization or company.


    Noun:  1. A period of around thirty years, the average amount of time before a child takes the place of its parents.  2. A group of people who are of approximately the same age.


    Adverb:  Casually; with little preparation or attention to detail.


    Adjective:  Essential; central.


    Adjective:  Complicated.


    Adjective:  Based on practice or action rather than theory or hypothesis.


    Noun:  1. Aid or assistance offered in time of need.  2.  The removal of stress or discomfort.


    Adverb:  Dedicated to one opinion or point of view.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access]. http://www.mnhs.org/immigration
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