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.