Our History


The India Association of Minnesota (IAM) was formed to represent India to the broader society in Minnesota and to build a sense of identity and community among people who are of Indian origin or who have an interest in India. Originally known as India Club, it has existed informally since 1970 but was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1973. Its mission includes three Cs: charity, culture, and connections.


To fulfill the first ‘C’, charity, IAM brings the Twin Cities’ Indian community together when there is a need to support relief efforts in India or Minnesota. It has collected and sent money to India in the aftermath of natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods. In 2001, IAM, with the help of Indian Minnesotans, collected $275,000 for the Gujarat earthquake fund, which helped rebuild the entire village in Kutch, India, as well as support a medical mobile van to treat women with health issues. In October 2002, it brought together all of Minnesota’s Indian faith groups at the state capitol for an interfaith prayer and to present a check in support of victims of the 9/11 attacks. In later years, it helped send funds to victims of the 2004 tsunami and the 2018 floods in Kerala.


IAM has also been committed to the second ‘C’: culture. Since 1983, its signature event, IndiaFest (earlier also called India Day and Festival of India), has showcased Indian culture, food, and arts. First held at the International Institute and a high school, it moved to the Landmark Center in St. Paul in 1985, and since 2009 has taken place on the Minnesota capitol grounds in St. Paul. The free festival draws thousands of people to view musical and dance performances, enjoy Indian food from local restaurants, shop, and learn about Indian organizations in Minnesota. The celebration kicks off with a parade, and a ceremony involves raising the flags of both India and the United States and speeches from elected officials and visiting dignitaries. Since 1979, IAM has organized and coordinated programs that represent India at the Festival of Nations, an annual event organized by the International Institute of Minnesota at the River Centre in St. Paul. Along with vendors and other organizations like the School of India for Languages and Culture (SILC), IAM presents Indian culture and food at the festival’s cultural exhibits, international marketplace and bazaar, and children’s and adult dance performances. In addition, it sponsors a variety of cultural opportunities with other Indian organizations as well as other events such as the Flint Hills International Children’s Festival in St. Paul (partnering with the School of India for Languages and Culture).


As an umbrella organization, IAM has connected Indians with the broader society—the third “C”—since the 1980s. Through liaisons with the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans and events such as Connect India (originally called IAM Dinner) and Connect Asia, it ensures that the Indian community is linked with and visible to elected officials and groups. Connect India and IndiaFest also give Indian organizations the opportunity to network with each other. IAM coordinates requests for speakers on India from schools and other organizations. In the 1980s it, it began sponsoring special programs such as visits to nursing homes and connecting newly arrived Indian students to an Indian host family. In [insert year], IAM helped establish the Asian Indian Women’s Association (AIWA) and the Indian seniors group called 55+. In 2015 and 2016, respectively, AIM organized oral history projects and the Beyond Bollywood exhibit with the Minnesota Historical Society. Other events, such as nonviolence days and peace marches, bring a wide group of people together to reinforce Mahatma Gandhi’s message of nonviolence and to march in solidarity against racial discrimination.

Turning Point

In 2009, IAM renames India Day as IndiaFest and moves the event to the grounds of the Minnesota state capitol. The event from then on has grown exponentially larger and visible in subsequent years, drawing thousands of people including vendors wanting to cater to the growing and prosperous group of Indians in Minnesota.


1973: IAM is incorporated as India Club, a non-profit organization. Its founding members and first board of directors included Anil Bhatnagar, Jagadish Desai, Raj Dutt, Madhukar Gupta, Robert Hoyle, Sy Mody, Bash Singh, V. C. Varadachari, and F. F. Zdenek.

1973: India Club organizes a concert—its first fund-raiser in Minnesota. Proceeds are donated for drought relief in India.

1979: India Club, along with the School of India for Languages and Culture (SILC), starts participating in the Festival of Nations.

1983: The first India Day is held in St. Paul.

1985: India Day moves to the Landmark Center.

1992: India Club completes its first oral history project for the Minnesota Historical Society.

1993: India Club is renamed India Association of Minnesota (IAM).

1998: Board members Sarah Mahapatra and Vasant Sukatme compile the Minnesota Asian Indian Directory to commemorate the India Association of Minnesota’s twenty-fifth anniversary.

2002: IAM organizes interfaith prayers and presents 9/11 funds at the state capitol rotunda in St. Paul.

2008: The IAM Dinner changes its format and is renamed ConnectIndia.

2009: India Day is renamed IndiaFest and moves to the grounds of the Minnesota state capitol.

2014: The first Annual IAM Golf tournament is held.