Hindu Temple of Lake County, Illinois
Fund Raising Banquet
Dr Kumar, thank you for the lovely introduction. That was my passion for the last 17 years; I have a different passion now for the next 18 years. And thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to the guests at this banquet.
Ladies and Gentlemen, It is indeed a pleasure and honor to be part of this Fund Raising Banquet to benefit the Hindu Temple of Lake county.
Today I would like to spend a few minutes talking about the value of Education to our future generations. And the role that the Hindu Temple, that we are gathered here to help create, can play in providing the right environment. And also the role that each and every one of you can play in helping make this happen.
Now wait a minute, I know what everyone is thinking is in this room – Talking about education to a roomful of Indians – that is totally redundant and unnecessary – we Indians already have a great appreciation for Education and today Indians play a leading role at world renowned universities as educators and as large and prominent student bodies.
The type of education that I would like to talk about is not the type of education you get at Stevenson or New Trier High schools or at Northwestern or University of Chicago. I am talking about the education of our rich cultural heritage, our religion and thousands of years of history and culture of our native lands. So when I talk about education, I am focused on the cultural, social and religious education only.
There is no doubt in my mind that each and everyone of the kids present in this room will go on to study at the leading educational institutions in this county. What I am concerned about is, If the kids present in this room will have the benefit of the same type and quality of cultural, social and religious education that many of their parents have been fortunate enough to receive.
As a Child growing up in India, I had plenty of opportunity to get the right cultural, religious and social education. Extended family, religious institutions and cultural events were all around me. So cultural and religious education was passively available to me and almost automatic. When my family and I moved to the States, I was about 14 years old and by that time had fairly good knowledge about the rich heritage of our culture and religion. My wife Munisha was fortunate enough to spend most summers in India while growing up here in the States and so she had plenty of exposure to our culture and religion. I think Munisha’s parents as recent immigrants to the US at that time, compared summer camp costs here to round trip airfare to India and found that airfare to India was cheaper. As young adults living in America, both my wife Munisha and I agree that our rich cultural, social and religious heritage has shaped our thinking and guided our actions. And we feel it has been instrumental in our success as adults.
Last year my passion for the next 18 years began with the arrival of our twin daughters. My wife Munisha and I looked at each other and asked the question “How are we going to impart the rich heritage and culture of our native land to our Kids?” Having benefited from our cultural heritage, there was no question in our minds that it is of paramount importance that our kids have access to, knowledge about and an understanding of our rich culture, heritage and religion.
With that in mind, we started exploring what resources and institutions that are available to us here in this county to help provide the education to our kids. As we looked around and gathered the list of resources we quickly realized that there were only a very limited set of resources available to us. Further as we explored these resources, it became clear that the depth and quality of the resources was not extensive.
The Indian community in the United States and elsewhere has achieved phenomenal success in business, in technology, in science and research and in medicine. We have made great contributions to help build some of the greatest institutions of business, technology, science, research and medicine.
However, in my opinion, our cultural and religious institutions are far behind. I believe that the time has come where we the Indian community pay as much attention to cultural and religious institutions as we have to business, technology and scientific endeavors. Why you might ask? Because only the cultural and religious institutions can provide a type of education that is an essential ingredient to the success of our future generations.
The Hindu Temple of Lake county is an institution uniquely committed to the education of culture and religion for children.
Therefore I ask each and every one of you to take this message to your friends, family and peers and help support the Hindu Temple of Lake county and their children’s educational and cultural programs and initiatives.
In rooting our children in our heritage we will leave the greatest legacy for many generations to come.