EMALAYALEE SPECIAL 08-Aug-2012
“Congratulations for organizing such an outstanding cruise convention and bringing in some new sense of direction to the Malayalee diaspora in North America. Special thanks for the beautiful plaque, which, although I am not sure I deserve, will be kept as a memento of the love and regards from all of you towards me”. — Dr.M.V.Pillai
The above quote was from an e-mail sent to me by Dr. M.V. Pillai. It was one of the many such mails that I received since we disembarked from Carnival Glory. The “Convention at Sea” was a success in all respects and I am sure it has been already recorded as one of the the most successful convention organized by any Malayalee diaspora umbrella organization.
I want to thank all of you — more than a thousand in all — who were part of making history. The leadership of FOMAA is indebted to all of you for making the convention so memorable. It could not have been successful without your wholehearted support and cooperation.
Many thanks to Her Excellency Nirupama Rao, Hon.Mitul Desai, Hon. Assemblyman Upendra Chuvikula,Mr. M. Murali, Ambassador T.P. Sreenivasan, Dr. Babu Paul, Dr. M.V. Pillai and Mr. Sabu Cherian for, not just adding color and flavor, but also enlightening us with their inspiring and thought provoking speeches.
As I have said before, it was a real honor and privilege to be able to serve the Malayalee community in North America over the past two years as the General Secretary of FOMAA. When I was elected to this position two summers ago, I knew there was as a lot of expectations from me and my National Committee colleagues.
I hope, after the convention, we can say that we were able to fulfill the expectations.
From the very beginning, it was clear to the National Committee that we wanted to be the change agents. We refused to travel the path that a normal Malayalee organization usually treads. We wanted to become an organization that put emphasis on substance, not style.
Our swan song, the “Convention at Sea,” I am confident, will be remembered for years to come.
The convention was not the only area where we took a different direction. In my opinion, the Bridging of the Minds initiative is perhaps our biggest legacy. A novel idea no other organization had tried before, this project was one of our signature accomplishments in the past two years. Among those who praised the initiative include, most notably, Venkat Ramakrishnan, the 2009 Nobel Prize winner, and Sam Pitroda, Adviser to Prime Minister.
The trendsetting capabilities of FOMAA were reflected in whatever project, initiative and activity the organization embarked on in the past two years. Others include the Malayalathinu Orupidy Dollar scholarship program, National Literary Seminar, the Medical Camp we did in association with Muthoot Medical Center in a rural village of Chittar, the housing project we launched, and the help we were able to extend through FOMAAHelpline.
The partnership we developed with Malayala Manorama and Muthoot, I am sure, will be an asset for FOMAA in the coming years.
As I said elsewhere before, one of thoughts that I have been preoccupied with in recent days was what legacy I am going to leave behind. Another question that I grappled with was whether we were able to take FOMAA to the next level. I am confident that we were, and I hope you will agree with me on that.
I am also proud of the advocacy we did with the Indian leadership to change the Indian Luggage Act, allowing NRIs to take more gold to India.
The 2010-2012 National Committee is also proud of the fact that we were able to bring many fresh faces to the Kerala community leadership. Now FOMAA has been accepted as a top-tier Indian American organization and the leaderships of both ruling and opposition fronts in Kerala also see FOMAA as the real umbrella organization of North American Malayalees.
Having said that, I also want to caution you about the challenges ahead of us. We live in an era when secular organizations are challenged by religious groups, which are stepping out of their domains and are encroaching the secular public spheres. Keralites in North America are deeply divided along religious and caste lines. In this context, the importance of a strong secular umbrella organization and strong local member associations that can bring Keralites together regardless of their religion and caste can never be overstated. We need to work with the new leadership of FOMAA towards this goal.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my colleagues, who were with me in the trenches these past two years.
My sincere thanks to our President John Uralil and Tresaurer Shaji Edward. It was a real pleasure working very closely with both of them.
Many thanks to our convention Chairman Sunny Poulose, Convener Saji Abraham, Co- Chairs Sajeev Velayudhan, Josey Kurisunkal and Lona Abraham. Also, I want to thank the Coordinators, Chairs, members of the various Convention Committees, Election Commissioners and Media.
My sincere thanks to all the Executive Officers, members of the National Committee, National Advisory Council, Judicial Council.
It was a pleasure working with all of you, ladies and gentlemen. Each one of you has taught me myriad lessons. Wherever the life takes me next, I will carry the memories of the past two years in my heart and soul.