TANA is the brain child and the result of a good seed planted by two pure hearts, Dr. Kakarla Subba Rao (1st President) and Mr. Guttikonda Ravindranath (Convener of the first Telugu conference). Because of the purity of their intent to foster unity of Telugus in North America and to promote our Telugu culture, it became a model organization for all other Indian organizations.
Telugu Literary and Cultural association of New York (TLCA) was one of the earliest Indian organizations in USA, founded in 1971. Dr. Kakarla Subba Rao was the president of Telugu literary and Cultural Association Of New York Tristate Area (TLCA) in 1975-76 followed by Guttikonda Ravindranath in 1976-77. Both of them felt the need to have a meeting of all the Telugus living in USA and Canada at New York to discuss the concerns, issues and to promote Telugu language and culture. This thought originated in their pure minds on August 28, 1976 on the auspicious Vinayaka Chaturdhi day. They invited all the Telugu associations in North America at the time to New York.
At the time there were about 5000-7000 Telugu families in North America represented by nine associations. They are: Telugu Literary and Cultural association of New York (TLCA), Telugu Cultural Association of Delaware Valley (TAGDV), Greater Washington Telugu Cultural Society (GWTCS)Telugu Cultural Association of Houston (TCAH), Telugu Cultural Association of Greater Chicago (TAGC), Detroit Telugu Cultural Association (DTA), Bay Area Telugu Association of San Francisco (BATA) and Andhra Cultural Association of Southern California in Los Angeles (ACASC) from USA and Andhra Cultural Association of Edmonton (ACAE) from Canada.
Representatives of these nine associations met under the leadership of Dr. Kakarla Subba Rao and Mr. Guttikonda Ravindranath and formulated the details for the first North America Telugu Conference that was held on May 28-29, 1977. Chief Guest was Mr. Anna Rao of TTD. This was attended by about 310 Telugu families, with 940 delegates from 30 states of USA. It was held in a high school, attendees were hosted in local homes and food was prepared by the volunteer women at the venue. A total of $8,004.08 was collected with surplus of $1,412.10 after $6,591.98 expenses. $412.10 spent on post conference report and $1000 was passed on to Detroit as seed money for the 2nd conference.
STARTING OF TANA (1978): After conference was completed successfully, a thought came in to sustain this effort with an umbrella Telugu Association and as a result TANA came into existence. Dr. Kakarla Subba Rao became its first president. TANA was later incorporated in Maryland by a Telugu attorney Mr. Durvasula Sastry in 1978. Initial Three elections to TANA in 1978, 1979 and 1981 were by indirect means through delegates. From the rolls of member associations, a delegate is elected for every 25 members. There were approximately 300 delegates that elected the executive body of TANA.
SECOND TANA CONFERENCE: DETROIT (1979): Second conference was held in Detroit with Tummala Madhava Rao as the convener, who went on to become the second president of TANA. He was instrumental in taking efforts to incorporate TANA with the help of Vadlamudi Sri Krishna and Durvasulla Sastry from Maryland. Budget of this conference increased to $20,000 with attendance of about 1000.
THIRD TANA CONFERENCE: CHICAGO (1981): Third conference was held under stewardship of Tella Tirupataiah as convener at Chicago, who subsequently became the third president of TANA. This was attended by about 2000 people with a budget around $30,000. Tirupataiah was instrumental in making TANA more visible. Getting a full pledged delegation from AP government, responsible in obtaining non-profit status for TANA by IRS and was also responsible for initiating the TANA Foundation in 1981 (before it used to be called Telugu foundation of TANA).
FOURTH TANA CONFERENCE: WASHIGTON DC (1983): This was held with Jakkampudi Subbaraidu as the convener and Tella Tirupataiah as the TANA president. While the first three conferences went smoothly the path to this conference was rocky at best. There were significant ego problems exhibited by the local leadership (between two well respected individuals) on the issue of who should be the convener, lead to an altercation. At this juncture TANA executive body intervened and brought in neutral person Mr. Jakkampudi Subbarayudu as the convener who did a face saving job of resurrecting the conference. This conference taught us important lessons of the importance of unity and sublimation of individual egos in running successful, fruitful conferences.
FIFTH TANA CONVENTION: LOS ANGELES (1985): This conference was held with Dr. Raghavenda Prasad as convener and Kakarala Chandrasekhara Rao as TANA president. After being president of Telugu association of Southern California (TASC- 1982-83 & 1983-84), I was blessed with the good fortune to serve as TANA’s treasurer (1983-85), Convener (5th TANA Conference in Los Angeles) and it’s President (1985-87). Having observed the happenings in Washington DC as a TANA executive committee member (treasurer), I decided on taking preventive steps to have a good conference that will bring in more unity in host community.
The first four TANA conventions were held in high schools with no air conditioning in the month of May. Typical budgets of first four conferences ranged from $9,000-30,000 and lasted two days. Families hosted delegates at home, women volunteers cooked food at the venue, local children and adults performed in cultural programs. I was moved by the plight of the mothers who had to host guests at home on one hand, come to the venue, cook food and still attend to the crying children in hot summer heat (no air-conditioning). They missed most of the cultural programs that were enjoyed by the men. I decided to usher in some changes to help these mothers. Fourth conference is lesson for us in terms of repercussions of disunity and sad plight of women at the conference. I decided to address these two primary issues squarely.
CONFERENCE REFORMS (1985): Unity became the central theme of operation of the fifth conference. We formed 16 committees with a leadership core team of 34 members that represented who is who in Los Angeles Telugu community. We moved the conference into a convention hall, with budget of $100,000,. I had to work against the concerns of many who were skeptical about the possibility of raising $100,000 so that we could move the conference into a convention center.
In order to meet the funding needs a massive fund raising efforts were introduced, created tiers of donors (grand-benefactor, benefactor, grand-patron and patron) with no special privileges of seating or accommodations except for mention in souvenir and honoring with plaques on the dais. Allowing Indian catering at convention center became a big issue. I ended up attending and addressing the Long Beach City town hall meeting to obtain their permission for Indian food catering. Here are some firsts in this convention.
FIRSTS OF 5th TANA CONVENTION: First conference in a convention center rather than in a school. Conference was held at Long Beach Convention Center. First $100,000 budget. First Awards Banquet to save time on main stage for this function. First Moving Stage was created to save time in transition between artists groups. Food was catered for the first time and this became the norm in all subsequent conferences. First Service Project by young adults: 100 Telugu young adults served in awards banquet.
First Kavi Sammelanam was added. First Astavadhanam. First dedicated Business Conference. First Souvenir published separately by Telugu Academy of Hyderabad on the occasion of the TANA conference. First significant surplus money from conference to TANA: $30,000 surplus from convention was passed on to TANA treasury for the first time. First Conference in July: Conference was moved to July from May because of non-availability of convention center. Ever since it became the norm. First Government Delegation of artists to TANA paid by Govt. of AP: Sent a delegation of 6 artists in addition to a political delegation. First Private party sponsored delegation: Movie Icon, Shri. Krishnam Raju sent a delegation at his expense. All attendees stayed in the designated hotels with pre-negotiated discount rates. This became the norm after this convention. Inclusivity: It became a very inclusive convention with involvement of who is who in Telugu community in Los Angeles. At the end of the conference, the Los Angeles Telugu community is more united.
After Fifth TANA Convention, I was unanimously elected as TANA Fifth President. TANA received wide publicity in India because of its service activities. During my tenure Vempati Chinna Sathyam Kuchipudi Dance Troup , Sobha Naidu Troup and Shobha Raju Team and several other Telugu artists had successful multi city tours. TANA foundation increased their service activities in India. At a time when there is no concept of continuing medical education for physicians after their graduation TANA created and introduced the concept of continuing medical education (CME) in India.
In 1986 TANA physicians conducted a mammoth CME conference in Hyderabad called “Primary Care Medicine Update 1986” with co-sponsorship of Nizam’s Institute of medical Sciences and Government of Andhra Pradesh. This was attended by 500 primary Care physicians from all over AP. Similar conference was held in Thirupathi in December 1986 and in Vijayawada in July 1987.
TANA also conducted an “International Conference on Integrated Rural Development” in Hyderabad in January 1987 and Industries and Investment Seminar in 1987. TANA Physicians have donated video libraries to all the eight Medical Colleges in Andhra Pradesh. These were shipped to India free of cost by Singapore Air Lines. All these service activities in India were conducted with zero cost to TANA treasury. All volunteers bore their own travel expenses and all the equipment donations are from individual donations. This was true even during the Fifth TANA conference where all travel expenses and telephone bills were born by volunteer committee members including the convener. Few complimentary rooms at conference hotel, Hyatt Regency, Long Beach were allotted to visiting poets from India.
SIXTH TANA CNFERENCE: ST. LOUIS (1987): This was held in St Louis , with Dr. Mantena Narasa Raju as the convener. I was the president of TANA at this time. This conference was held in a university campus. There was a significant shift towards popular movie singers and artists away from classical artists. Convention catered to the populist film playback singers and paid large sums for their programs. In the first five conferences the focus was on promotion of classical fine arts. Popular movie artists attended the conference at their own expense. We just recognized their presence in the conference.
This practice initiated at St. Louis was followed ever after in all the conventions. Later on popular movie heroes and heroines were invited paying significant honorariums and privileged class air tickets to show their face at convention. The typical reason given by the leadership is that these movie stars will attract more crowds. Thus conventions became commercial enterprises and used commercial promotional tactics to attract larger crowds. The focus shifted from what is good (priyam) to the community to what is popular (modam) with community. As a results convention budgets sky rocketed to a million and above.
The convention committee took this shift in direction on their own without consultation with TANA executive body. One of the lessons of this conference is That TANA executive body should have participation and active involvement in conference planning and decisions. This was implemented in all conferences from then onwards with TANA executive body through its president became in-charge of the conference along with local coordinator.
SEVENTH TANA CONFERENCE: HOUSTON (1989): This was held with Dr. Vinta Janardhan Reddy as its convener and Mr. B. Venkateswara Rao as president in University of Houston campus. This had 2000 attendees. $110,000 was collected with a surplus of $20,000 that was shared between TANA and local Telugu Association. This is the first convention in which seating was segregated with ropes to separates donors from the ordinary registrants. This practice is followed in all the following successive conventions ever since.
SPLIT OF TANA INTO TANA ATA: After the 7th conference in Houston (1989), Andhra politics crept into USA. AP was hit by a cyclone on May 4-9, 1990 that hit shore 40km SW of Machilipatnam. This resulted in deaths of 967 people, death of 3.6 million live stock and damaged 1.43 million houses.
Marri Chenna Raddy, then chief minister of AP visited USA to raise funds for cyclone relief fund in AP. TANA collected cyclone relief funds, but decided to transfer the funds through Rama Krishna Mission to do relief work instead of through chief minister fund. This caused some friction in relationship with the visiting CM. This resulted in division of opinions, egos flared up and as a result, a second national organization called ATA came into existence (1990), with the blessings of then chief minister, Marri Chenna Reddy.
EIGHT TANA CONFERENCE: ATLANTA (1991): this was held in Atlanta with Dr. Vanapalli Manga Raju as the convener and Dr. Nallamothu Satyanarayana as president. After the Fifth conference the next two were held in university campuses. However the eight conference moved back into a convention center. After this all other conventions were held in convention centers. This was the first conference after TANA was divided to form ATA. ATA’s first conference was on the same date in Chicago. Later after discussions with ATA body, they agreed upon having conferences in alternate years, TANA in odd years and ATA in even years. Thus the 2nd conference of ATA was held in 1992 and then every 2 years. Thus there was a level of cooperation between TANA and ATA in spite of the division, for the greater good of the community. This was a welcome development.
NINE TH TANA CONFERENCE & WORLD TELUGU CONFERENCE (1993): This was held in New York with Dr. Dasaradharami Reddy as the convener and Dr. Nallamothu Satyanarayana as the president. Spiritual dimension was added in this conference, in tune with the aging Telugu population. We started first Vedic conference that was chaired by me in New York. This now became the norm in every convention since then. Several swamiji’s now regularly give pravachans at the TANA conferences. These are well attended.
Large number of artists and others were liberally invited to this conference and there was significant problem catering to the needs of these stranded artists after the conference. They all got stranded in New York without a program to go. This taught us the lesson of the due diligence and prudency of invitations and the importance of having a committee to coordinate post conference tours for visiting invitees from India after the conference.
TENTH TANA CONFERENCE: CHICAGO (1995): This conference was done with Yadlapati Yugandhar as convener and Mantena Narasa Raju as the President. This was attended by 7200 members. $ 785,000 was collected. Expenses were $ 700,000 leaving a surplus of $85,000 that was given to TANA. This had the first inaugural dance ballet and the first laser show. Business seminar is well attended. Youth were involved on the main stage.
ELEVENTH TANA CONFERENCE: ANAHEIM (1997): This conference was done with Kottapalli Kondala Rayudu as the convener and Vadlamudi Ramamohana Rao as the President. In this conference they conducted the first Novel writing competition in India with a prize money of Rs.1.5 lakhs. A supplemental stage was started for selection of local artists to perform on the main stage. This conference collected $750,000 with expenditure of $500,000. Surplus of $250,000 was passed on to TANA treasury. This conference set a record in surplus money that is passed on to TANA till that time.
Chalasani Mallikharjuna Rao was the president from 1997-99. During his tenure, he beefed up the membership list, issued ID numbers for life members, updated voter list by removing more than 3 votes for one family. TANA finances were beefed up by cutting down TANA Patrika to 8 issues/year from 12./ year. He had a novel writing contest like the year before, before the convention.
TWELVETH TANA CONFRENCE: CINCINATI (1999): This was done with Gorrepati Ranganatha Babu as convener and Chalasani Mallikharjuna Rao as president. They had a revenue of about $1.2 million and had a surplus of $270,000. $200,000 of this transferred to TANA treasury and $70,000 was transferred to local Telugu association. High light of the program is the local unity, business seminar and 3 hour cultural program by Akkineni Nagarjuna and his team of 40 members. Miss world Rita Faria from Hyderabad attended the convention. Movie play back singer Suseela received the life time achievement award at this conference. Folk art Festival in India by name Chaitanya Sravanthi was started at this time. TANA regional & Youth conference was successfully held in Dallas during Gangadhar’s tenure as president.
THIRTEENTH TANA CONFERENCE: PHILADELPHIA (2001): This conference has the distinction of having two conveners one followed by other. They are Allada Janardhana Rao and Kosaraju Vijaya Saradhi. Nadella Gangadhar was the president of TANA then. In this conference chief minister Chandra Babu Naidu’s speech was shown in a live telecast to all the delegates. About 7000 people attended the conference. $1.1 million was collected with expenditure of $1,03 million leaving a surplus of $70,000. Out of this $20,000 was transferred to TANA treasury.
During the tenure of Padmasri Muthyala as president TANA Back Pack Program was initiated. This program is now currently held in Dallas, San Jose, Washington, DC, Boston and Detroit. Dr. Navaneeta Krishna, Chalasani Mallikharjuna Rao and Yetta Hanumatha Rao were actively involved in developing this new program in TANA.
FOURTEENTH TANA CONFERENCE: SAN JOSE (2003): Komati Jairam was the convener and Muthyala Padma Shri was the president for this conference. A minor conflict for leadership role of conference was resolved by creating the post of chairman. Dr. Peraiah Sudanagunta took the roe of the chairman. This was attended by 6-7,000 people. Total collections were $1.1 million with break even expenditure. TANA conducted Kabaddi tournament in India. The winning team was supposed to come to the conference, however due to problems with visa this did not materialize.
During the tenure of Dr. Navaneetha Krishna Gorrepati as president, he conducted children’s Cultural programs in Dallas, Detroit, New York, Washington Dc, and San Jose that selected child artists to perform in Detroit TANA Conference. He was also involved in arranging Psunami disaster relief in Prakasam District near Chirala. A TANA Nagar was built at a cost $50,000 with 80 houses and given to fishermen there.
FIFTEENTH TANA CONFERENCE: DETROIT (2005): This conference was held with Dr. Kodali Srinivasa Rao as the coordinator and Dr. Gorrepati Navaneetha Krishna as the president. Conference team developed some guidelines to go by through town hall meetings with local Telugu community. Three such meetings were held one at the temple, one in library and the third one in a meeting hall. Approximately 200 people attended each of these meetings. Purpose of the meeting is the needs assessment of the community.
Deliberations of these meetings were summarized below: (1) 70% of the performers in cultural program to be from USA. (2) Youth should have enough representation. (3) Tickets and honorariums should not be paid to any artists or otherwise from India. (4) Conference committee members agreed not to get reimbursed for travel and telephones from the conference funds. (5) Transparency in accounts. (6) Surplus is the goal. 8000 people attended the conference. A Total of $1.5 million was collected, leaving a surplus of $340,000 that was split between TANA and local association at 75% to 25% ratio.
SIXTEENTH TANA CONFERENCE: WASHINGTON DC (2007): Dr. Yadla Hema Prasad was the convener and Bandla Hanumaiah was the president of TANA. 14,000 people attended the conference. Highlight of the conference is President Bill Clinton’s address to the business seminar.
Former Chief Minister of AP Nara Chandra Babu Naidu attended the conference. In the youth mixer, 200 youth met and resulted in 10 marriages after the conference, 10% success rate. A decision was made to have the next conference in Orlando, Florida.
SPLIT IN TANA : NATS FORMATION: TANA had a cultural program in India called “Chaitanya Sravanthi” at Guntur and one of the members (a potential convener for Orlando conference) donated Rs. 10 lakhs to sponsor the event in his father’s memory. During this event, some differences of opinions developed as to the control between the donor and TANA executive body. The fall out from this Chaitanya Sravanthi resulted in some actions by TANA about the Orlando conference and its leadership. TANA executive board appointed another person locally as the coordinator and suggested to initially identified coordinator to take the role of co-coordinator which he refused.
Later on this appointed new coordinator requested TANA to move the convention away from Orlando since he was not getting the cooperation needed from the community. This new development forced TANA to move the convention from Orlando to Chicago with Yedlapati Yugandhar as its coordinator. This turn of events upset the Orlando team that resulted in a new organization “North America Telugu Society (NATS) with Rana Kumar as its first president and Madala Ravi as the convener of its first conference in Orlando.
Kakarala Prabhakara Chowdary was the TANA president During 2007-2009. During his tenure TANA along with Telugu communities across the globe fought for recognition of Telugu as “PRACHEENA BHASHA” and achieved it in the year 2009. TANA continued it’s on ongoing programs, Telugu teaching at UT Austin, International Internship program, back pack program with school supplies and scholarship program for college students. A new program called TEAM SQARE was started to help Telugu families in USA under distress. During this time TANA faced unfortunate law suits that cost TANA dearly. Eventually these were resolved amicably. During his term, there was an Internal Revenue Service audit of TANA, Inc-Foundation, Convention, Trust funds and General funds for the years 2004 and 2005. TANA successfully came out of this audit with the pro bono CPA services of Prabhakara Chowdary. He obtained Illinois Tax exempt status that saved several thousands in refunds to TANA for the conference expenditure.
SEVENTEENTH TANA CONFERENCE: CHICAGO (2009): This was held in Chicago with Yadlapati Yugandhar as the coordinator and Kakarala Prabhakara Chowdary as President of TANA. This conference and its origin was meddled with problems as mentioned above. The conference that was originally scheduled to happen in Orlando, Florida was moved to Chicago as the result of of problems elucidated earlier.
This was the first time in the history of TANA a scheduled conference in a location was moved from that location. As a result of this split in TANA, both Chicago (TANA) and Orlando (NATS) conferences were held on the same July 4th weekend in 2009. Both conferences incurred heavy losses. 6800 people attended the conference. $1million was collected with expenditure of $1.35 million leaving a deficit of $350,000. This was the heaviest loss TANA incurred in any TANA conference.
One of the lessons of this conference is, that leadership has to put aside personal, personality differences aside for the greater good of unity in community. Unity should guide all our actions. Adjustment and accommodating differences in views, by sublimating personal egos should be a priority in any actions of a good leader. Show downs and cornering of any body or any group to a desperate situation should be avoided, since this kind of actions will result in desperate actions that harm the Unity in community. Similar events and circumstance cropped up in previous terms of other presidents. However, they in their wisdom adjusted, accommodated for the greater good of community and prevented splits by preventing show downs. This preventable situation is a historic lesson on how not to handle a situation for future leadership of TANA.
EIGHTEENTH TANA CONFERENCE: SANTA CLARA (2011): This was done with Chilukuri Satish as the coordinator and Komati Jairam as TANA president. Initially this conference was scheduled to be held in Newark, New Jersey. Since NATS also announced to have a conference there on the same date, TANA in their wisdom avoided confrontation and moved the conference to Santa Clara,, California. This was a wise decision that resulted in a surplus of $400,000 that fortunately wiped out the deficit from the Chicago conference. Komati Jairam put lot of effort for this surplus to materialize.
Two communist party leaders and TV channel CEOs attended the conference for the first time. Encounter with Ravi Prakash (TV9) and Heart to Heart with RK and Praja Paksham with Paruchuuri Gopala Krishna and short film session with Sekhar Kamula are the unique events in this conference.
A Photography session with local professional photographer is well attended.
NINETEENTH TANA CONFERENCE: DALLAS (2013): This current conference is being held with Murali Vennam as coordinator and with Thotakura Prasad as TANA president. This was the conference that was announced first for the July 4th weekend in 2013. But however for reasons not publicly known NATS also announced their conference in Dallas at the same time. I personally made numerous attempts to resolve this conflict in schedule, that I felt is mutually self destructive and divisive to the Dallas Telugu community. In my attempts to resolve, I proposed four alternatives plans to resolve. They are:
Proposal #1: Merge NATS and TANA and have a single convention in Dallas in July 2013. Both of the current boards would share equal responsibility in convention.
Proposal #2: Hold the TANA and NATS conventions on two different dates in 2013. An appropriate alternate date may be the Thanksgiving holiday in November 2013.(This date is known to be available at the Dallas Convention Center). The change to be decided by coin toss.
Proposal #3: TANA would hold their convention in July 2013 in Dallas ( for the reason that transfer of presidency in TANA at the end of completion of 2 years) and NATS would hold their convention in July 2014 also in Dallas. The entire Dallas Telugu community would be able to help both the conventions. This would have the added benefit of solving the ongoing convention scheduling conflict forever.
Proposal #4: TANA and NATS to hold their conventions in different cities on July 4 th weekend.
While TANA leadership agreed for these proposals, but unfortunately the same is not the case with NATS leadership. Similar attempt were made during NATA conference in Houston. With disappointment with the outcome of my efforts, I requested Thotakura Prasad, President of TANA to change the timing of TANA conference unilaterally in the interest of greater good of the community. He complied with this request and changed the date of conference from July to Memorial Day weekend on May 24-26, 2013. I sincerely appreciate his cooperation in averting major conflict in Telugu community of Dallas. Thotakura Prasad set an example by this action for future leaders of Telugu community. This action of his will be always remembered.
CHANGES OVER THE YEARS:
TANA and its membership has undergone several changes over the years. Change is the law of nature in any dynamic society. In this change we should show discrimination between what has been beneficial and what was redundant and harmful. Any activity or value that helps foster unity and amity should be preserved and fostered. All practices or beliefs that causes harm to the unity in society should be purged. Example of this is human values that foster unity to be preserved and promoted and harmful past belief and practice of caste by birth concept is to be purged. Stated below are some of those significant changes that involved all of us directly or indirectly.
ROLE OF STRONG EGOS AND RESULTANT DIVISIONS: Sign of education is humility. Humility comes after ego sublimation which fosters oneness in the community. Only with sublimation of ego , the common good can be promoted. TANA’s division into TANA and ATA in 1990, TANA’s division into TANA and NATS in 2009 and ATA’s division into ATA and NATA in 2012 are all very much the result of inflexibility of leadership, play of strong egos, forgetfulness of common good principle and unity at all costs. Societies all along had to deal with the common culprit of strong egos. It is important that all community organizations should have programs of personal development of its membership on ways to sublimate ego and foster team work and unity as a personal value.
Elections is inevitable part of any democracy. In all elections there be winners and losers. However our organizations often became victims of bad losers. The loser instead of taking it graciously as a part of the game of life, take it personally and create splinter groups and new organizations. This too often the case with our Indian organizations. This is one reason we as Indians excel individually and collectively fail. We need to change this negative pattern and transform ourselves to be instruments of promotion of common good and unity in community. . We should always remember the essential portion of the commUNITY is UNITY.
IMPORT OF POLITICS FROM INDIA:
In Indian political establishment bipartisanship for promotion of common good is a rarity. With TANA and it’s conventions we get to know and interact with several Indian politicians. Unfortunately rather than influencing them positively with our broader view and vision of things with our experiences, we are instead bringing their weaknesses to ourselves and to our organizations. Most of the splits in our organizations in the past are the result of this import of negative values. We have a need to recognize this weakness in us and change for the better. Soon we should able to positively influence Indian polity for the better with our examples.
GROWTH IN NUMBERS: One good thing that happened during this period of splits is the growth of number of Telugus. Due to the IT boom a large number of IT professionals arrived with H1B visas. At present we have in excess of 300,000 Telugus living in North America. In spite 4 different Telugu associations each of the four organizations still are able to draw enough crowds. It is also good to see that there is some healthy competition in providing community services and cooperation between various organizations for common benefit. However TANA the mother organization still maintains its uniqueness through its service activities in USA and in India. It still draws largest number of attendees for its conventions.
NEW TELUGU IMMIGRANTS AND RISK TAKING: Young new immigrants (H1B) are IT professionals predominantly. This group being young and in the stage of invincibility are taking undesirable risks that resulted in several unfortunate tragedies that required TANA to intervene. These are mainly untimely deaths in vehicular accidents. Most such incidents are heart breaking to parents. TANA developed a information brochure on how to prevent such tragedies. This very useful six page information brochure developed by Mohan Nannapaneni and Chowdary Jampala was abridged by me into two page list that is attached in the Appendix of this article. I request all to heed the advice put forward and prevent heart breaks to their families. Be safe and follow safety precautions. In spite of our carefulness occasionally things happen randomly, but we will certainly reduce these tragedies by following the safety precautions and thus securing their and their loved ones lives.
SELF RELIANCE: ACCIDENT & DEATH INSURANCE: Having observed these tragedies from the sidelines, It is strongly recommended that each young immigrant should explore and get term life and or accidental death and dismemberment insurance as soon as they land. Fortunately this is less than the cost of 1-2 Telugu movie tickets a month. This kind of self reliance and planning is essential to prevent a financial burden on your families and the community. They should move away from attitude of invincibility and be prepared and ready for any eventuality pro-actively. Self reliance should be the mantra. Self reliance, gives self satisfaction and that in turn will give self confidence. Self reliance is what made us the ideal minority. Let us not deviate from it and keep the good name earned over the years.
COMMUNITY IMAGE: REPUTATION: When the early generation Telugu immigrants arrived in USA, they hardly had any support systems. No Indian grocery stores, no Indian movies. People here did not know much about India except for snake charmers and holy cows wandering in the streets. In the presence of adversity the earlier generations worked hard to benefit themselves and their community. They created organizations like TANA to benefit the Telugu community and also worked with the local American community. They became self reliant and helped India. They did this, while assimilating well with the local American community. They brought good name to themselves, to their community and to India. They earned the reputation of hard workers and honest workers and the title of ideal immigrants.
Short cuts and exploitation of credit systems in USA, bogus credentials and beefing up resume with lies are some of the problems with the newer generation. This if continued will erode the good image of ideal immigrants to un reliable and unethical immigrant status in near future. Please remember that not only your future and credibility but the future and credibility as group is dependent on each one of us. While life is a survival for many, showing character in stress is the quality of a truly educated human being. End of education is character. Character is what one does right when nobody is watching
PROMOTIN OF ASSIMILATION: The new generation of immigrants has everything too easy for them with everything available as in India. There is lot of enthusiasm and energy in this group. One distinct difference that is noticed is that they are not assimilating with the main stream America, which I am afraid will have long term repercussions. Since there is a large body of new Telugu immigrants, they typically socialize with their own clan and do not feel the need for assimilation.
Older, earlier generation of immigrants assimilated well and as a result had less local hostility and to the contrary they got praise from the local community for their contribution for a better America. We are looked at as a value to the communities we live in. Assimilation is connecting with the main stream and still keeping our identity.
This assimilation is very important in the long run for our community and to India. We need to get the best of both the worlds. The benefit of our Indian culture of family, community and spirituality and the benefit of the work ethic and service attitude from USA. Instead we should not be the victims of wrongs in both societies. Castism, regionalism, language differences from India and the divorce and materialism of the west.
SECOND GENERATION – OUR PRIDE: Most gratifying thing to watch is to see the sacrifices made by the earlier generation of NRIs to foster a dynamic new generation that made us the ideal/model immigrant community. Our 2nd generation is our pride. They are excelling in every field, including politics. Culturally this 2nd generation is very rich. However the advantage that our 2nd generation is enjoying now is due to the sacrifices of the first generation. It may or may not last long, since we do not know how far and how much our second generation will sacrifice for the next generation.. Our future generations might need more support from us.
OBSERVATIONS AND IDEAS TO PONDER UPON:
YOUTH INVOLVEMENT: ENDOWMENTS AND SCHOLORSHIPS: TANA should do more to involve them in the leadership roles and also try to set aside a portion (say 10%- 15% of revenue) of conferences as endowment for scholarships to our children. This could be further increased to 20-25% later. The sooner we start this the better. We should start to engage their involvement in our organization by forming a TANA YOUTH BODY that is nominated by the executive body to plan and execute activities that benefit them. Elders should only be advisory to guide them. Possible agenda items like exchange programs with AP Universities, service projects here and in India, mentoring programs for other youth, human values, marriage enhancement programs, leadership work-shops, political, social activism and the like.
ACTIVITIES THAT BENEFIT TELUGUS IN USA : This should be our first priority. Our activities in India should not be monitory, but only advisory in systems development that empowers them. Any activity in India should be by the private monitory sponsorship. Private individuals may donate money channeled through TANA Foundation to causes of their choice in India. TANA should refrain from spending money in India directly. TANA should move away from promoting popular film singers and artists by offering them huge sums of money and first class tickets. They need to move back to the original intentions of our elders to promote classical Indian fine arts and artists. There are enough private organization that support these film artists commercially. When they come on their own, we only should give appropriate hospitality and recognition. All our efforts should be towards promoting classical arts, culture, human values and to address social ills by social activism for a better society.
RELIGIOUS AND SPIRITUAL FORUMS: Humans are physical, social,, emotional and spiritual beings. All parts are eually important in his well being. Our culture and religion are closely linked. In order to preserve our culture we should also promote avenues for spiritual advancement for our membership. As our first generation is aging, our needs are changing. We should continue and enhance the emphasis on spiritual forums for the growing needs of our membership. All the programs, lectures, workshops, discussions should reflect the changing needs of our membership.
It is about time we bring some of these spiritual forums to main stage in the form of panel discussions on topics like ”Curse of caste system on society and mechanisms to address”. It is heartening to see that some of these are already being addressed in the conventions.
MARRIAGE ENHANCEMENT EDUCATION PROGRAMS: Marriage is the functional unit of society. When marriage integrity is threatened the societies integrity is also threatened. This is one area of changing need. Divorce and marital discord is on the increase. In order to prevent flare-ups in marital relationships, we need to offer preventive educational programs in the conventions and at other times. These prevention workshops will help both the young and old alike by fostering understanding of marriage dynamics and proper communication. We already started this seminar in this 19th convention.
PROMOTING HUMAN VALUES: In ever changing dynamic world there are some fundamental unchanging values that support the harmony in society. For an individual, family or the community to expand to their full potential and succeed, cultivation of these human values is of utmost importance. Promotion of these values is the responsibility of families, society and organizations. TANA should have a panel discussion with youth and the elderly together to discuss the issue of human values in our lives. It is the values that will keep us in the fore front of society and should explore, plan and execute activities in this direction. We should bring in our youth into these panel discussion as participants and as audience to get the most benefit from the activity in this direction.
This panel discussion on transfer of values is already initiated in this 19 th convention.
FOSTERING A PARADIGM SHIFT IN ATTITUDES TOWARDS NRIs IN INDIA: People and Governments in AP typically think we are the money bags and were valued when India was in financial crisis in the early 80s. Once India’s economy improved we became Non-Required Indians. Organizations and individuals should keep this in mind and do things that bring a change in their attitudes towards us. Continued support with money keeps the image of dollar bags. The more we get involved monetarily the more we will encourage the mistaken idea of NRI’s as dollar bags. Hence it is highly recommended and desirable to stay away from monetary involvement with India. However individual members at their own free will can get monetarily involved at their discretion.
PROMOTING IDEA OF NRI BRAIN POOL: Some of the earlier generations are in their retirement age now and are willing to offer their knowledge and skills for a better India without any monetary return. What is most unique about them is that they lived in India before and also lived here. They bring the benefit of a different perspective because of their experience of living in progressive orderly societies. This is similar to the NRIs from England who contributed a lot to free India from the shackles of the British rule. TANA as an organization of Telugus should promote this thinking in every interaction with the government and people.
All the government needs to do is appoint them as unpaid advisors in different ministries of the state and center. TANA as organization should promote this image of brain bank and help dispel the image of dollar bags. All our activities in India should be towards transfer of information and knowledge. As an organization and individually we should project ourselves as a value to India as a brain bank. This brain bank of Mother India, when used well, will produce ample dividends to Andhra Pradesh and to India.
SPEARHEADING THE SECOND FREEDOM MOVEMENT AND SOCIAL ACTIVISM: Any ills that afflict the Indian society also effect us as NRIs. This generation of NRIS from North America should and will lead the second freedom moment of India away from corruption and bureaucracy. We should squarely address the curse of caste by birth in our society which has no scriptural basis.. We should promote removal of caste names at the end of names. When we initiate, the rest of India follows. Organizationally we should boldly declare this and promote this for others to follow. As our community needs change, we need to address the changing needs with new programs.
UNITY AS MANTRA OF TANA: One of the benefits of community service is that we learn to sublimate our egos, listen, adjust, accommodate with people of different views for the common good of the community and the organization. This is the ground in which we learn to sublimate our egos for common good. Unity under any circumstances should be the rule. Unity should be the underlying theme of all our activities. There is nothing that we do is of greater importance than this.
The elders should set an example with their character and actions. They learn more from our actions than from our deliberations and lectures. TANA’s name and image should be protected and Unity should be the mantra for all our endeavors and actions. There is nothing that is more important than Unity in our mission. This should be remembered by all at all times.
UNITY is the tribute we can give to the pure souls that started this great organization and to the pure souls that nourished it grow and protected from the weeds of selfishness, pettiness and egos. Gratitude is highest humanity. The best way to express gratitude is through UNITY in our thoughts words and more importantly in our actions.
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TANA
1. TANA LOCATION OF ITS ACTIVITIES: Focus of TANA activity should be in USA/ Canada. We should restrict our activity expenses in India. All service activities in India to be by private sponsorship through TANA Foundation. The only TANA funded activities in India except disaster relief is for items 6, 7 & 8 mentioned below. We should focus on bringing a paradigm shift in their thinking of NRIs, from dollar bags to brain bank. TANA leadership in all their interactions should promote this change in attitude in India by their thinking, words and actions in every interaction.
2. TANA ENDOWMENTS: Efforts should be made to develop endowments by putting a minimum of 10% of the money raised for conference into these endowments. 50% of the interest should be used for annual endowments. Through this we should offer scholarships for high school students & college students. Other endowments could be Telugu Language academy, Telugu Cultural academy and for student exchange programs. The scholarship endowment revenue should be beefed up to $1500-2000 from the current $500. We should publicize these widely and should announce these scholarships in a timely manner in the month of March.
3. TANA EMERGENCY FUND: This fund will help emergency situation USA and disasters in India. It is better we prepare pro-actively than reactively at the time of emergency. When funding any disaster relief activity in India we should directly supervise the project that bears the TANA name as it was done in the last Psunami relief in Prakasam district.
4. TANA CONFLICT RESOLUTION TEAM: This can be formed with members from past presidents with a chairman and 4 other members:
a. Prevention and addressing conflicts in TANA or TANA Conferences that causes a stalemate in proper functioning of TANA or its conference. Its recommendations should be final.
b. Prevention of court cases.
c. Binding arbitration in conflict within the organization.
5. TANA HALL OF FAME – TANA OFFICE: TANA should have an office with volunteers helping to maintain archives and records. This office can house the TLAA suggested below. At each conference we should solicit additional corpus fund for this project.
6. TANA TELUGU INSTITUTE (TTI): We should think about formation of TANA Telugu Institute with affiliation to Telugu Academy in Hyderabad. The money we are giving currently to Telugu chairs in universities should be diverted to this TANA TELUGU INSTITUTE with an office and volunteer and paid staff. This office could also house TANA Office.
This TTI should be involved in the following areas of activity:
a. Development of DVDs
b. Correspondence courses
c. Promotion of Telugu Reading and Writing skills
d. Conducting Telugu Drama/ writing/ literary Contests.
7. TANA CULTURAL ACADEMY OF AMERICA (TCAA): This should be formed to promote Telugu culture and arts in North America. This should maintain a video library of all arangetrams and other performances of our children and adults and maintain a list of artists in N.A.
a. It should conduct a tour of India with artists from USA once a year by name
“TANA Pravasa Bharathi Festival or TANA Festival.
b. They should be co-coordinating visiting classical artist’s tours of USA.
8. TANA STUDENT EXCHANGE PROGRAMS (TSEP): This Exchange Program should focus on coordinating arrangements to tour AP in 2 week segments with service opportunities. Volunteer youth with the help and guidance of adults should run this program. There could be some co-ordination between item 7 & 8 where in this could be combined youth delegation to AP with site seeing, service and cultural shows joined into one to start with.
9. TANA E-PATRIKA: This should be sent to all the members once every 2 -4 weeks interval.
Along with the addresses and phone numbers obtain e-mail addresses to send TANA E-Patrika.
10. TANA WEB SITE: This has to be updated, a link for general information should be provided, that deals with Telugu teaching techniques, college counseling, interactive marriage counseling, networking for job opportunities, financial planning for youth, advise for retirees including retirement dwelling opportunities, healthcare for non-insured, long term care insurance and facilities, financial planning for retirees, general procedures for the departed, and other similar informative items, all of which can form a compendium of source book for our community. This kind of information should be included in biennial Souvenir and TANA E- Patrika.
11. TANA YOUTH CONFERENCE: There should be at least one conference a year dedicated to youth to mix with each other to increase the marriage possibilities among Telugus. This conference should be a stepping stone for youth get into TANA main stage. There should be elocution competition of different age groups. The 3-4 winners will address the audience on the inaugural session of TANA for 3-4 minutes each.
12. ELECTIONS & LIFE MEMBERSHIP:
Elections are the necessary evil of a democratic society. Our past experience tells us that we are poor losers. When one loses an election, they completely go farther from TANA service or become a seed of dissent or start a new organization. The leadership at the time of elections should not pass judgments on the candidates avoid taking the king maker role and taking sides before the nomination process is complete.
Several problems in the past were related to people in positions acting as king makers and desired to get their group elected. Leadership should take a neutral non-judgmental position and help get consensus where it is possible. To prevent these problems, here are the suggestions for membership and election reforms.
a. All membership applications should be accompanied by a Govt. issued ID with address proof that should be verified prior to granting membership and it should be completed in 2 months time.
b. All elections should be held on a fixed date each time, like the US Presidential elections.
c. A 365 day prior Cutoff date from date of elections, for new members to participate in the elections in that cycle.
d. Membership fee should be paid with personal check or personal credit card. No debit cards to be allowed. At the time of new member application & approval process the new member should be physically living in USA/Canada.
e. Any rush of new members in the 30 days prior to cut off date should be intensely scrutinized for legitimacy of applications.
f. Nominating committee should solicit names of people interested in serving the community, with the available community pool of volunteers should work to include all in possible positions to serve. An attempt should be made for unanimous elections and thus using everybody’s service.
g. When (f) is not possible nominating committee should take consideration of all potential candidates and select a slate to be recommended by the nominating committee. This slate will be put on ballet and others are free to contest against the recommended slate of candidates as write in. (this may require amendment to by-laws).
h. If (f) & (g) are not workable, as a last resort clean elections should be held with utmost transparency. The president elect and the president should use the services of all the losers of the elections in some nominated post, so that we can still use their services.
13. TANA CONVENTIONS: Here are the suggestions to improve the conventions.
1. Major portion (80%) of cultural participants should be from North America only.
2. No guest from India should be paid fares and honorariums by the conference committee. Exception to this is by unanimous vote of conference organizing committee. Any payments should be by private sponsors.
3. If a Cultural troupe from India is already travelling and touring USA at the time, they may be allowed to perform with appropriate reimbursement and hospitality as the other towns. This will avoid paying for their fares entirely by the conference committee.
4. Apart from the cultural programs some important socially relevant panels should become part of main stage events. Examples are (a) marriage enhancement programs (b) Curse of caste on society (C) imparting human values and the like. At least one such program on 2nd day morning can be initiated as a pilot program.
5. Inaugural Session: Inaugural speeches should be short and sweet, Long introductions should be avoided. 3-4 youth members that are pre-selected from debating competitions should be allowed speaking in inaugural session for 3-4 minutes on the theme of the conference.
6. Set aside at least 10% (to start with) of the total revenue, for TANA endowments. Only 50% of the interest generated on the endowment seed money should be used for specific endowment cause annually. Endowment seed money should never be touched for TANA operations. Similarly another 10% should be set aside for TANA building fund.
7. Political forums should be avoided at the conference.
8. When a group of politicians and dignitaries come, use them in their area of expertise in panel discussions. Areas of discussions that might be beneficial is like, how the Andhra Pradesh government can help the Telugu Language Academy of America, TANA Youth cultural tours and exchange programs (the 6,7 & 8 items in TANA).
9. We can have panel discussion on current problems of Andhra Pradesh and discuss on how to improve it. Deliberations could be presented to the dignitaries.
10. A deputy coordinator may be appointed from youth to bring youth involvement in the programming of the events at the conference.
11. Compile post conference report within one week of completion of conference and publish it within 60 days.
12. All TANA Past Presidents and Conveners who attend the conference should be given appropriate badges and seated appropriately. They should be permitted to dine at the reserved area for the VIP guests at the conference. We should respect our own people that have served the community. This is the least we can do for them.
13. Program booklet should be ready well in advance and an e-format should be sent to all registrants in email. Obtain email IDs with registration.
14. A pocket version of the quick look program should be distributed with registration package.
15. Directional signs should be prominently displayed. Lost and found and message board should be next to registration.
16. Consideration of future conferences on a ship with 1 week voyage should be seriously considered.
17. TANA AWARDS:
a. These are meant for people who excelled in their chosen fields and at the same time contributed for the wellness of Telugu Community in USA. This should be the criteria.
b. People who excelled in their fields with no community involvement or service do not deserve awards from us. Exception to this should be a unanimous vote of TANA EC.
c. Life time achievement award should be limited to people living in USA with outstanding longitudinal community service only.
d. Number of awards should be limited to 5-6 to enhance the value of these awards.
e. Only people who commits to attend and receive award personally should receive the award.
UNITY & COMMUNITY PURPOSE:
One of the benefits of community service is that we learn to sublimate our egos, listen, adjust, accommodate with people of different views for the common good of the community and the organization. This is the ground in which we learn to sublimate our egos for common good. Unity under any circumstances should be the rule. Debarring the volunteer office bearers, either presidents or conference coordinators should be avoided under any circumstance. A selected and announced venue should never be changed, unless it is requested by the local community or this action brings in more unity in the community.
TANA’s name and image should be protected and Unity should be the mantra for all our endeavors and actions. There is nothing that is more important than Unity in our mission.
This should be remembered by all at all times.
PURPOSE AND INTENT FOR THIS PAPER:
The purpose of putting this article together is as follows:
1. To let membership know the intent, sacrifices made and the efforts of TANA leadership to start, protect and grow this organization from its inception till to date.
2. To walk the membership through the workings of TANA and TANA Conferences by way of the chronology of events from its inception to now.
3. To let all know the growing pains and problems it had encountered on its way.
4. To let all know how those problems were addressed.
5. To share those lessons learned for the benefit of the future leadership of TANA.
6. To share summary of recommendations from past leaders for future of TANA & TANA Conferences based on their past experiences.
7. To share vision of the founders with scanned copy of Guttikonda Ravindranst speech at 1st conference. This is posted in the appendix.
8. To provide TANA & TANA Conference leadership at glace. This is posted in the appendix.
9. To provide Safety Guidelines of TANA in an abridged format: Developed from the six page guidelines originally prepared by Mohan Nannapaneni and Chowdaary Jampala.
This article is the result of long conversations with past presidents and conveners that are separately acknowledged. Any time a problem is discussed, focus was placed in identifying the problem, causes as perceived and lessons learned with a hope these lessons will be of use in the future of TANA. There is possibility of some errors in perceptions and understanding. But, this is a honest attempt as I perceived along with other past leadership. This is not an attempt to criticize people or take sides on the issue. Hence mentioning of actual names was avoided. I tried to maintain utmost objectivity on these delicate issues. I hope that my sincere efforts will be appreciated by the reader. If in any of my comments bothered you in any way, I humbly seek your forgiveness.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND DISCLAIMER:
The above article is the result of input from several past presidents of TANA and Conveners of past TANA Conferences. I whole heartedly thank the following people in particular who contributed by their input to this report. They are: Guttikonda Ravindranath, Tummala Madhava Rao, Tella Tirupataiah, Dr. Vinta Janardhana Reddy, Dr. Vanapalli Manga Raju, Yedlapati Yugandhar, Kottapalli Kondala Rayudu, Gorrepati Ranganatha Babu, Nadella Gangadhar, Mutyala Padmasri, Komati Jairam, Dr. Gorrepati Navaneeta Krishna, Dr. Kodali Srinivasa Rao, Chalasani Mallikharjuna Rao, Dr. Bandla Hanumaiah, Dr. Yadla Hema Prasad, Kakarala Prabhakar Chowdary, Chilukuri Satish, Thotakura Prasad.
The opinions expressed in this article is purely mine with years of exposure to the functioning of TANA and information learned through consultations with the above persons. Intent was to give a historical perspective so of TANA. I seek your forgiveness if I inadvertently made mistakes in grasping the facts. I tried to explore different facets to an event, but it is quite possible that I missed a facet inadvertently.
DEDICATION AND GRATITUDE: This article is dedicated to the pure souls that founded this great organization, those that protected it, watered it and to those who nourished it grow to a full fledged fruit giving tree. The author is grateful for the North America Telugu community, who gave him an opportunity to serve this great organization, Telugu Association of North America in several capacities in its early stages.
LOKA SAMASTA SUKHINO BHAVANTU.
GUTTIKONDA, 1ST CONVENER OF PRAPRADHAMA TELUGU SAMMELANAM INAUGURAL ADDRESS in NEW YORK: MAY 28-29, 1977
APPENDIX – II
TANA AND TANA CONFERENCE LEADERSHIP SINCE INCEPTION
SER # YEAR PRESIDENT CONVENER LOCATION YEAR CONF#
1977 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Guttikonda Ravindranath New York 1977 1
1 1978-79 Dr. Kakarla Subba Rao Tummala Madhava Rao Detroit, 1979 2
2. 1979-81 Tummala Madhava Rao Tella Tirupataiah Chicago, Ill 1981 3
3. 1981-83 Tella Tirupataiah Jakkampudi Subba Rayudu Washington DC 1983 4
4. 1983-85 Kakarala Chandrasekhara Rao Dr. Raghavendra Prasad
Los Angeles, CA 1985 5
5. 1985-87 Dr. Raghavendra S. Prasad Dr. Mantena Narasa Raju
St. Louis, MO 1987 6
6. 1987-89 B. Venkateswara Rao Dr. Vinta Janardhana Reddy
Houston, TX 1989 7
7. 1989-91 Dr. Nallamothu Satyanarayana Dr. Vanapalli Manga Raju
Atlanta, GA 1991 8
8. 1991-93 Dr. Nallamothu Satyanarayana Dr. Dasaradharami Reddy
New York, NY 1993 9
9. 1993-95 Dr. Mantena Narasa Raju Yedlapati Yugandhar Chicago,1995 10
10. 1995-97 Vadlamudi Rama Mohana Rao Kottapalli Kondala Rayudu
Anaheim, CA 1997 11
11. 1997-99 Chalasani Mallikharjuna Rao Gorrepati Ranganatha Babu
12. 1999-01 Nadella Gangadhar Allada Janardhana Rao Philadelphia, PA 2001 13
Kosaraju Vijaya Saradhi
13. 2001-03 Muthyala Padma Shri Komati Jairam San Jose, CA 2003 14
14. 2003-05 Dr. Gorrepati Navaneeta KrishnaDr. Kodali Srinivasa RaoDetroit, 2005 15
15. 2005-07 Bandla Hanumaiah Dr. Yadla Hema Prasad
Washington, DC 2007 16
16. 2007-09 Kakarala Prabhakar Chowdary Yadlapati Yugandhar Chicago, 2009 17
17. 2009-11 Komati Jairam Chilukuri Satish Santa Clara, CA 2011 18
18 2011-13 Thotakura Prasad Vennam Murali Dallas, TX 2013 19