Chicago, USA: The 18th BMM convention will be held at Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on July 7-9, 2017. The prime aim of BMM is to bring together the entire Marathi population in the North American continent from the World. Said Shri Niteen Joshi , President BMM (Bruhan Maharashtra Mandal of North America), USA.
INTERVIEW OF Shri Niteen Joshi, President, BMM , USA
- What is the significance of 18Th convention of BMM, which is happening in the year 2017?
Bruhan Maharashtra Mandal of North America (BMM) is an umbrella organization of all Maharashtra/Marathi associations in USA and Canada. Founded in 1981, BMM is the largest organization of Marathi speaking people outside of India. The motto of BMM is to bring together the entire Marathi population in the North American continent. The biennial convention is a flagship activity of BMM over last 35 years. The 18th BMM convention will be held at Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on July 7-9, 2017. Over 4,000 people from every corner of North America will gather to celebrate Marathi language, culture and their affection towards each other.
- Which are the activities to be undertaken for ADVANTAGE TO MAHARASHTRA? Do you have any agenda for the social empowerment of Maharashtrian Community mainly, farmers , ADIVASIES, Schedule Tribes and other below poverty families ?
Though BMM was established as mainly a cultural organization, social consciousness is an important aspect of Marathi community here. Last year when the State of Maharashtra was hit with a terrible drought situation devastating lives of hundreds of farmers, BMM took up an initiative to help the farmers and raised a substantial amount of money. We are still waiting to disburse it to NAAM foundation while we wait for NAAM to get an approval under FCRA for accepting foreign donations.
BMM has joined hands with Maharashtra Foundation which is another North American organization involved in philanthropic activities for last several years and Rungmunch, a performing arts organization from California with a focus on helping for social cause and created an initiative called “Setu Bandha Re”. We will together identify worthy organizations in Maharashtra who are offering social services to farmers and other deserving organizations and raise funds for donating to them.
- Would you please brief us on activities for the growth of Business of Maharashtrian ? Which Sectors are conducive for the growth of business in USA? How BMM 2017 can help Industries , Entrepreneur , Business to enter into USA & grow its commercial activities?
BMM convention offers an excellent opportunity to entrepreneurs and businesses from Maharashtra to showcase their product and services by participating in the business conference which is a prominent activity at the convention. The Expo hall is also available to sell their products and services. BMM convention provides sponsorship opportunities to businesses from Maharashtra and if there are any specific interests or general networking requirements, we can certainly help and guide them to enter the American market place.
- Who should participate in Expo & Conferences during BMM 2017? What are the privileges offered to the participants?
Every entrepreneur who has a “Start Up” or established business mainly in technology, consumer goods and services, education, housing construction or any other business for that matter can be benefited by attending the convention. The convention helps them to reach out to a captive audience of people most of who are of high net worth.
- Would you please tell us in details about GRANTHDINDI? Who all are participating from INDIA?
“Granth Dindi” is a procession showcasing the Marathi culture, literature and folk arts. Groups of people from many cities and countries for that matter are participating in this unique activity. It is a celebration of existence and success of Marathi Manus on this foreign soil.
- " Uttar Rang conference." What is UTTAR RANG CONFERENCE ? What is an agenda of the conference?
Professionals from Maharashtra started migrating to USA in late 60s and early 70s. As of now many of them have or are on the verge of retirement. All of them have very successful careers and at this stage of life they feel rewarded but there are certain issues and circumstances typical to this generation. BMM is aware of this and to move ahead with changing times, BMM has started this activity called “UttarRang”. As the name suggests, it is that phase of life where staying healthy and secured is the necessity. Many cities have formed groups of these individuals and there are activities conducted for them which are very near and dear to them right from housing, medical help, legal and financial advice etc. UttarRang caters to the needs of these senior citizens in every possible way. The convention hosts a conference specifically for this activity where in experts on various topics share their thoughts and guide the attendees.
- Which are the Cultural Programs in BMM 2017 convention?
We are still in the process of finalizing some spectacular and unique programs ranging from speeches, interviews, music, theater and many other talents both from India and from North America. Our website www.bmm2017.org will be regularly updated with new and exciting events that will take place during the convention.
- How many Marathi people from globe and from India are expected to present this grand Event?
We are expecting over 4,000 people at the minimum at Grand Rapids. Some of the previous conventions have had attendance in excess of 5,000. There will be visitors from India, Australia, Middle East and many countries in Europe.
- There is a need of meticulous and micro planning for organizing such type of huge Event for the betterment of the community. Can you please brief us more on the planning?
This is indeed a Herculean task. Over 300 local volunteers work on this project for a period of over 2 years. It is important to note that all of these are very busy professionals but just for the love of Marathi they all gather together and work together. There are over 18 different committees looking after everything from registration, hotel & travel, cultural programs, facilities, fund raising and so on! Well, one of the most important is the food committee! Yes, we provide top class authentic Maharashtrian food to all attendees over 8 meals during this two and a half day gala. Tremendous efforts go in to planning every detail and execution to perfection. There could be a whole book written about one’s experience. I was the convener of the BMM 2011 Chicago convention and have very fond memories of that convention.
- Would you like to give any Message to Maharashtra People as a President, BMM 2017?
The most important thing I would like to convey to my brothers and sisters in Maharashtra that regardless of the fact that we are thousands of miles away from you, at the very core all of us are Marathi. We love our language, culture, history and heritage as much as you do. We work very hard in our lives just like you do. We remember and miss our friends and relatives very much at happy and sad times in our lives. Today the globalization has brought all of us closer. Our interaction with you has increased by a lot as compared to 20 years ago and we love the technology that has provided it to us. You can contact us for any issues concerning the life here and we are always there for you.
Historic Movement stemming from Chicago for Marathi Language
Chicago, USA: MR. Sunil Suryavanshi past president OF BMM with his vision of spreading Marathi Education among Maharashtiryan Marathi young generation born in USA started this movement 4 years back. Mr. Nitin Joshi, current President taking it forward with passion and spirit of legacy for Marathi. More than 40 Marathi schools around the nation under BMM umbrella. However, Chicago Marathi Shala is the first one to receive the Illinois State of Board Approval. During my move to America, I was filled with anticipation and nervousness for the new start. In India, the Marathi community was large and thriving. So, coming to a country where I did not know where we could find such a community made me very nervous. In 2011, I was given the opportunity to be a part of BMM 2011, and I jumped on board. I became involved in MMC and even became president in the year of 2013. I had finally found the large community of such valuable people that I had been seeking, but I noticed that, over the years, my kids started to stray away from their native tongue. Around that time, BMM had taken the initiative to begin a Marathi Shala throughout USA. When Niteen Joshi, current president from BMM, approached me, I did not know how large this idea would become. At first, there were only a few students. Over the next few months, I was overwhelmed by the support and response of the Marathi community. Now, we operate with two branches and house more than one hundred children. Our greatest accomplishment is getting Illinois State of Board Approval, which recognizes Chicago Marathi Shala as a foreign language school in the state of Illinois. This paves the path for our students to earn high school credit under the seal of literacy. Our next steps include establishing a permanent school building where Marathi Shala can take place. In 1983, Swami Vivekananda created a history in Chicago, and with our Marathi community, we are motivated to rewrite our chapter of this history.
In fact, there are more than 40 Marathi schools around the nation under BMM umbrella. However, Chicago Marathi Shala is the first one to receive the Illinois State of Board Approval. The Illinois State of Board Approval allows for students to receive foreign language credits from the ninth grade to the twelfth grade in high school. In addition, there is even a chance for students to receive AP credit through AP testing for the Marathi language. For graduate students, it provides a chance to establish affiliations between American and Indian universities to study Marathi on a higher level. Through Marathi Shala, we can provide unlimited boundaries for students to become the next generation of global citizens, cultivating their knowledge to cover a larger base in education.
Vidya Joshi, Chicago Marathi School Director, Principal Coordinator