DIWALI FIASCO. COMMUNITY DEMAND ANSWERS
It is high time that the current executive committee of the Friends of India should reevaluate the leadership of the club. The last Saturday Diwali event was disastrous with all-time low (less than 500) attendance due to the failed and incompetent leadership.
The current leadership failed to attract and reach out to diverse Indian community to make a Diwali event more meaningful and entertaining event. The leadership failure started with August 15th Independence Day celebrations, where the club started charging the members to attend the same. In 2012 Diwali the membership dues were collected with a promise for a free entrance, lunch/dinner, and entertainment without any further financial burden on members for the year round events till the following year Diwali celebrations. Independence Day event was marred by controversies due to a charge for attending an event and recognition of an unknown individual by the Friends of India. However, the consolation prize was decent hors d’oeuvres followed by a sumptuous dinner.
Diwali is a major celebration which brings the whole Indian community together to enjoy a social evening with local and professional entertainment along with a full-fledged dinner. For the first time in the 27 years history of Friends of India the exorbitant ticket prices did not include dinner, although the announcement said that the Dinner will be provided. The snacks provided at the Diwali function does not count as dinner. Hard like a rock idlis, stale biryani and decade old Indian flavorless sweets does not count as dinner. Moreover, who eats pani puri for dinner? The street food at the function doesn’t count as a dinner, whose value was probably more like $4 – not $40 per person. The leadership failed again to provide the full value of $40 ticket prices. To top it off, boxed sweets were not distributed to the attendees this year.
The entertainment by local kids and adults was the only attraction and well executed portion of the whole event. However, there were controversies surrounding an allocation of “prime time” to certain individuals and group performance. The controversy centered on the teacher trainer whose students got the prime spots during the five hour local program while others were squeezed in earlier in the afternoon where there were not many in the audience. Again the leadership failed to take control of the situation.
Another controversial decision taken by the Friends of India is abolishing membership fee which means there are no club members. Friends of India bylaws clearly specify the rules for membership, which can’t be changed without the approval and voting by the members. Only members can elect the Executive Committee of Friends of India. Does that mean that the current Executive team will be there in perpetuity?
Online ticket printout showed the event hosted by Yatin Daulat not Friends of India, as if 2013 Diwali celebrations was a private/personal event of Mr. Daulat. Printouts were not scanned and anyone could have made extra photocopies of the printout and would have attended the event without paying.
It appears that Friends of India’s Diwali program is losing its significance in its current format. For the past few years, the program has become an almost 10-hour affair with local kids and adults showcasing their talent starting early afternoon. Most of those in attendance from 2-5pm are the performers along with their near and dear ones. Most of the attendees show up after 5pm for social mixing and dinner followed by an out-of-town musical program.
Many of the attendees have started questioning the purpose and significance of having an annual dinner. The current celebrations format has worked well for the past 25 years; however, the time has come to reevaluate an almost whole day indoor celebrations. The affair itself involves hundreds of hours of dedicated volunteers time with significant amount of financial commitment and planning logistics. Additionally, the $40 ticket is seen as too expensive for a family and that too for a buffet which one can enjoy anytime of the year at a local Indian restaurant. With diverse Indian community from various regions of India having different linguistics issues, the repetative hindi entertainment fails to attract non-hindi speaking members of the community.
It is recommended that the volunteer board of Friends of India should explore alternate ways to celebrate Diwali. One alternate option is to organize a Diwali Mela in October of every year with a format similar to spring time Vaisakhi Mela/Food Festival organized by Gurdwara Baba Deep Singh. Diwali Mela concept will bring a community together in a public park with no obligation to spend $40 per person (the current ticket price). The format could stay the same – the entertainment, dancing, singing, etc. by the local children and adults followed by professional entertainers. The participation will skyrocket from the current dismal attendance numbers.
The community has started demanding answers from the President but he is hiding behind a burka “veil”. Mr. President, I have given you an opportunity to write your response in the past and again I would like to invite to you to pen together your response to members which will be posted on this site. Vegasdesi.com is an impartial community blog for the betterment of this community and is read widely within the Las Vegas South Asian community. If you’re unable to listen to the constructive criticism from the members for your leadership failure and are unable to execute your responsibilities in a professional manner, it is high time you resign and exit gracefully. The President Elect should take over the leadership and have a special election to fill the position of a President for the unfinished term. As there are no members as of today, let the last year members elect a new President.
As one reader rightly posted a comment on this year Diwali’s theme – Band Baja Barat, but now the time has come to have a nice Bidai “departure” for Mr. President.
This article is written after conversing with many attendees and the comments posted to a Diwali announcement.
On other note, surprisingly vegasdesi.com advertisement is missing from this year advertisement book. This childish & clownish behavior of the FOI President reflects his personal incompetency and insecurity.