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It is now more than ever the time to reflect upon the role of the South Asian community in American society. This is what our second issue of Shakti, "Strong Communities, Strong Voices," aims to do.


Dear reader,

The year 2020 has tested the foundations of our society like no other. With a tempestuous pandemic taking the world by storm, we have seen our traditional societal framework marked by tumult and disarray. As individuals, we have been pushed apart, relegated to the confines of our own homes. At the same time, we are witnessing and participating [link to SAAPS statement] in the continued struggle for racial justice, as seen through the Movement for Black Lives. 


In the midst of this maelstrom, nothing has proven more vital than the solidarity of our own communities. Organizations like Sakhi, which in the midst of the pandemic has intensified its efforts in protecting South Asian women from domestic violence, have taken on even more essential roles as cases of domestic violence rise [need link]. Stories of South Asian Americans volunteering their restaurants as makeshift hospitals or offering their homes as sanctuaries for Black Lives Matter protestors have further testified to the necessity for cross-community solidarity.


[paragraph: how SAAPS and Shakti aim to address community — Bhargavi]


In this issue of Shakti, “Strong Voices, Strong Communities,” we aim to highlight these roots of our interconnected community through the unique perspectives of our contributors. Alysha Siddiqi ‘23 probes the meaning of our newfound isolation in the context of Kashmir, where such circumstances have been a longstanding reality for a people caught in the crosstrings of conflict. Janani Sekar ‘23 uses the medium of paint and colored pencil to comment on South Asian women and community heroes. Setu Mehta ‘22 looks at how her own grandmother, lost to the current pandemic, stood as a beacon of Shakti for all those around her. Nikhil Dharmaraj ‘23 interviews Durba Mitra, professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, on her South Asian American upbringing and against-the-grain philosophy. Pranati Parikh ‘21 studies the contradicting threads that weave their way through the Mahabharata and South Asian society. Gayatri Balasubrimanian ‘22 reflects on her experience as an ROTC member, drawing on her conversations with a host of diverse Army members. Niv Sharma examines our potential to look within ourselves and join with one another to create societal change. 


[½ paragraph: introducing writing pieces — Bhargavi]


[concluding sentences to the above paragraph] Flowing in rivulets beneath these different narratives is the importance of community. Our contributors focus the lens on those around them, commenting on how members of their community have brought forth new life, new energy, new Shakti. 


We want to extend our deepest gratitude to our contributors, who have brought their incredible voices to make this SHak




Swathi Kella and Bhargavi Garimella

Executive Editors

Table of Contents

Divided – Janani Sekar

Kashmir Quarantine – Alysha Siddiqi

Beacon of Shakti – Setu Mehta

InterviewNikhil Dharmaraj

Shakti in Action – Niv Sharma

Aspire to Serve? Indian Americans and the Army – Gayatri Balasubramaniam

Woven Alternatives – Pranati Parikh

Pannirendu Varisham Vanavaasam – Nivedhitha Sivakumar

A Desi Woman Narrative – Aiman Shahab

Poetry in ResponseTamica Perera

HungerAvik Sarkar

PartingAvik Sarkar

UntitledReshini Premaratne

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