HOUSTON: The recent appointment of long time Houstonian Anshuman Desai as the president of HGH heralds the emergence and establishment of “One voice,” a “united Hindu voice.”
Desai, is proud of his Hindu Identity and not shy of showing his Hindu pride. He has committed himself to reinvigorate the HGH, by focusing on the organization’s mission, goals and objectives to ensure that HGH will reflect and resonate as the authentic voice of all Hindus in the greater Houston area.
Recognizing the enormous efforts by all the past leaders having created an enormous presence of Hindus in Houston, the new president is keen and determined to take it to higher plains and be recognized as the oldest and third largest faith of humanity by the mainstream of Americans.
Desai’s spirit of volunteerism and his success in mentoring the youth bear testimony to his ability and skills in shaping an influential Hindu community organization.
Desai thanks his mother for imbibing in him the interest in volunteerism as she used to work as a nurse’s helper in Municipal Hospital in Ahmedabad, offering her services in all areas, including cleaning the premises. The family’s status did not interfere with her attitude of rendering help to others, without being asked to do so.
His father, who was a leading educator in Gujarat, came to the U.S. in 1955 as a Fulbright scholar to do his master’s in education at Columbia University. It was his father who instilled in young Anshuman the mentoring skills that has become his habit in all dealings.
Desai himself came to the U.S. in 1977 to do his master’s degree in industrial engineering.
The new president may not be too involved in religious rituals, but places greater emphasis on “Karma Yoga” and “Jnana Yoga,” that is to do service and to nurture spiritual knowledge.
For more than 10 years at Chinmaya Mission Houston he was in charge of Youth and Family activities and various special projects. Though not an active member of the Jain community, he dedicated his work at the Jain Center Houston at a critical time by leading a team of youngsters in completing the temple construction. He was able to play a critical role in installing the deities and help open the temple on time in 1995.
Other organizations he has participated are JVP Preksha Meditation Center and the Mahatma Gandhi Library.
Desai was also associated with Sewa International, especially in building a team to organize monthly workshops for Sewa International. In addition, he has also been active in the Interfaith Ministry and serves as a member of steering committee for HIDRA at the Ministry.
Anshuman believes in not reinventing the wheel, but to build upon the strength of HGH and other participating Hindu organizations to serve the whole of Hindu community.
Youth initiative being a major program for HGH this year, “We should make youth feel valuable , mentor while setting specific goals and expectations, provide a platform for service and recognition as deserved, then only they will get involved in service under the Hindu banner,” Desai says.
His goal is to bring all Hindus together and develop significant projects led by HGH under Hindu banner to address community needs that are changing as we grow in number and age.
Many Hindus in Houston do not belong to any religious organizations. HGH will provide a forum for all Hindus to work collectively, without competing with any other organization.
While each secular and religious organization is important in its own right, HGH needs to be focused on its Mission by limiting its involvement only where it fits its Vision and Mission as an organization. Desai does not prefer the word “umbrella” organization and prefers it to be a march towards Hindu Federation with much broader vision to represent and serve the larger Hindu community.
He believes that Hindus should be able to show their “Hindu Pride ” identity without any sense of guilt of hurting people of other faiths, as we are third largest religion in Houston.
The Hindu community in Houston is at a stage where “we need to establish our own identity,” Desai says.
HGH also should provide solutions for issues that affect three different generations as we are growing and aging.
HGH will continue its current activities like the Hindu Youth Awards, Janmashtami and the Diwali food drive. This year’s Hindu Youth Awards and Fundraising Gala will be held at Chinmaya Mission Houston on Saturday, April 11.
His objective is to work with the Advisory Board, planning, consulting and using their guidance that can promote and propel the broader objectives of HGH as stipulated by its Mission Statement.
HGH will expand its presence in the mainstream community and establish response teams to react during emergencies and to respond to the media, according to Desai.
“I feel that all the stars are aligned for HGH to achieve its objectives: its vision, its mission and a highly experienced team, are all in place. A strong organization focused on its illustrious goals will make Hindus of Greater Houston synonymous with United Voice of all Hindus,” says Desai.