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Indian Students Find a `HHome Away from Home' by Participating in Sangam

By Alice N. Gilchrist
Staff Reporter

Sangam: In Hindi, it means "a meeting or gathering point." To Indian students at MIT, however, it has become something else, a "forum where Indians and American Indians can express themselves and maintain their cultural identity," says Sangam President Sudhendu Rai G.

The group, which has approximately 200 members, is divided almost evenly between undergraduate and graduate students. According to Sreenivas R. Gorti G, vice president of Sangam, the number of members has grown "directly in proportion to the number of Indian students attending MIT."

Sangam shows Indian movies, organizes celebrations during major Indian holidays, and sponsors lectures and demonstrations, according to Jayant Kumar '95, secretary, and Pradeep R. Sreekanthan '95, publicity director.

During IAP, Sangam sponsored two musical demonstrations and lectures on different styles of Indian music, said Kumar. Some of their major activities last semester were a "fall foliage trip" to New Hampshire during Columbus Day weekend, celebrations of two Indian festivals, Dushehra and Diwali, in late October and early November, and a lecture in November entitled "India: Where is the Nation Heading?" by Prem Shankar Jha, former information advisor to V. P. Singh, former prime minister of India.

This semester, Sangam plans to show Indian movies monthly, sponsor more lecture series and demonstrations, and organize discussions about issues important to the Indian community, said Gorti.

India is a "diverse country with many different religions, races, and languages," so the name Sangam implies that the organization is a place where all kinds of Indian people "can meet and express themselves in a united way," Rai said.

Smruti J. Vidwans '95, a member of the Sangam executive committee, said that the group can be very important for freshmen. She said Sangam gave her an opportunity to do things "for Indians at MIT and Indians in general," and that Sangam makes Indians "feel at home" at MIT.