Indians for Collective Action turns 50

The incubator for social philanthropy plans to focus on US-based non-profits now


Ritu Jha

The San Francisco Bay Area based-Indians for Collective Action(ICA), a non-profit, advocacy and an incubator for social entrepreneurship is celebrating its 50th anniversary on October 20 at the Santa Clara Convention Center.


The organization was put together idea though was generated 1965 by a UC Berkeley group of Indian students and faculty who wanted to transform India. It was incorporated in 1968 and since then has been actively involve in the community and have nurtured several known non-profits in the US and India as well.


Many ICA associates left for India in early 70s to do something for their motherland. Ravi Chopra helped start the Center for Science and Environment in Delhi and then founded the People’s Science Institute in Dehradun. S R Hiremath founded the India Development Service in Chicago and in Karnataka and subsequently founded the Samaj Parivartana Samudya.


Abhay Bhushan, who has been associated with the organization since 1984 told indica that in 1976 when Emergency was declared in India and elections were postponed indefinitely, ICA led a “March for Democracy” to Washington DC, to put pressure on the US government to help restore democracy in India again.


In the US many Indians too wanted to help India and form non-profits but did not know how.


For them, ICA has been an incubator center for social philanthropy. It helped launch Asha for Education and the Foundation for Excellence, and helped the Sankara Eye Foundation and other organizations.


“Our next focus is on US based non-profits and how we can learn from each other,” Bhushan said, describing how, for example, even in San Francisco homeless people who have been abandoned by their families were in need of rehabilitation.


“It’s very much a need not just in India but in the US also,” Bhushan said.


Dr. Bharat Vatwani

He said that a connection between US and India can go beyond just sending money.


“We want to continue on a larger scale to connect where the funds are needed – whether it’s the US, India or a combination of those, so that the people can make a difference,” he said.”The conference is also to inspire the next generation to think beyond themselves so that we can work together and create a better India and a better United States.”


According to a press note, the keynote speaker will be Dr Bharat Vatwani, the 2018 Magsaysay award winner for his exemplary work with the mentally challenged on the streets of Mumbai. And ICA’s 50th anniversary honorees are Dr. Girish Kulkarni, founder Snehalaya, Lata Krishan, founder American India Foundation(AIF) and Naginbhai Jagada, president of the Arpan Foundation.


According to Reshma Nigam, President of ICA, the conference will also include panel discussions on topics of interest to the social sector, and an opportunity to meet with 500+ Silicon Valley Indo Americans interested in India’s development.


The conference will be attended by well-known social entrepreneurs from India. Confirmed speakers include, Anand Kumar of Super30 (IIT JEE), Suhani Jalota of Myna Mahila Foundation (sanitary napkins), Dr. Girish Kulkarni of Snehalaya, Judy Frater (an Ashoka Fellow) of Somiya Kala Vidya, Aditi Kaur of Mountain Children Foundation, Laila Tyabji of Dastakar, Padma awardee Dr Pankaj Shah (cancer specialist), Dr Bharat Bhagat (medicine), Dr Anagha and Dr Digant Amte of Lok Biradari Prakalp (rural welfare), Dr Shrey and Dr Gayatri Desai (medicine), Satyajit Bhatkal of Jalmitra Foundation, Hasina Kharbhih (an Ashoka Fellow) of Impulse NGO Network, and Tejal Amin of Nav Prerna (education). In addition there will be Dr Duncan Steele from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr Sriram Shamasunder from UCSF.

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