SHAKTI: A RISING POLITICAL ENERGY
2019 was a seismic year for South Asian Americans. It’s the year our community witnessed the first South Asian American candidate kick off her U.S. presidential campaign, saw the results of an unprecedented number of South Asian Americans who ran for office last year and are achieving record levels of representation in the federal judiciary, and facilitated the burgeoning of civic activism and engagement in various capacities.
2019 was also the year we bore witness to tragedies against our community, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s setup of a sting operation to target South Asian student visa holders in the United States, openly racist acts against South Asian immigrants, and hunger strikes among ICE-detained South Asian asylum-seekers. But amid the tragedies that plagued our nation this year, we also saw acts of solidarity, including South Asian American civic leaders standing against anti-Semitism, South Asian Americans rallying U.S. cities to memorialize their complicated histories, and South Asian Americans changing the political trajectories of regions across the United States.
At this critical juncture in our nation's history, the South Asian Americans in Public Service initiative at Harvard University launched Shakti, the first-ever campus journal of South Asian American civic thought, in order to shed light on some of the prominent political and civic issues affecting the South Asian American community. Defined as “strength” or “energy” in Sanskrit, often with a feminine connotation, the word “shakti” serves to honor the rising civic strength and energy of the South Asian American community, largely spearheaded and facilitated by women, feminist allyship, and intersectional solidarity.
In our inaugural issue, “A Rising Political Energy,” we’re proud to spotlight these themes through various pieces our contributors – undergraduate students from Harvard and Boston University – have written. Amisha Kambath ’22 probes what it means to be a South Asian American woman in the current political moment and truly feel represented in spaces of power and privilege. Pranati Parikh ’21 considers her manifold identity as a Hindu, Gujarati American woman from the rural Midwestern United States. Nuri Bhuiyan ’22 interrogates her preconceptions of Bangladesh as a Bangladeshi American and offers a solution. Sarika Ram ’21 investigates the rise in hate crimes against the Arab, Muslim, and South Asian American communities during the Trump era. Jayant Gopalan ’20 dissects what it means to resist normative career expectations and carve out one’s own identity as a South Asian American. Sonya Kalara ’21 offers their nuanced thoughts on the intersection between queer and postcolonial theory in contemporary Indian literature and its impacts on their own life. Sanika Mahajan ’21 explores what it means to be a South Asian American woman survivor of sexual violence and shares how survivors can reclaim their narrative and agency. And Dhruv Gupta ’20 analyzes the repeal of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and its impact on the Kashmiri community from his own perspective as a South Asian American.
We’re incredibly grateful to our eight student contributors for shaping the inaugural issue of Shakti with their nuanced thoughts, analysis, and ruminations on topics and themes important to the South Asian American community and its rising political energy, not only in the United States, but also across the world. With that, we’re thrilled to launch the 2020 issue of Shakti in the coming months and continue to amplify South Asian American student voices across the nation.
Thank you for your continuing support, and we hope you enjoy “A Rising Political Energy.” Feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with feedback, tips, or story ideas for future issues of Shakti. Best wishes for the new year!
Meena Venkataramanan, Executive Editor
Trisha Prabhu, Managing Editor
Aman Panjwani, Operations Editor