Background and History

The Hindu and Dharmic[1] community is coming of age in America.  It is connecting with America.  Professionally these Americans are excelling in many fields and have the talent to assist our country during this difficult economic period as re-iterated by President Abdul Kalam. As we, the new Americans, mature and root ourselves further, transformations are needed to develop a Hindu-American identity and strengthen community building to address our needs and those around us.  Many volunteer to serve but do not have well developed sustainable service infrastructures which are Hindu faith based. The “Call to Serve” report provides a road map for a new era of faith based partnership. This report, the first of its kind, is a compilation of our learning and analysis in light of the knowledge imparted by the Office of the Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the senior Administration officials and the Council members as well as our research based interaction with the Hindu American faith based and Indian American secular communities. Read about our 2010 journey.

Currently, HASC with the historical appointment of first AmeriCorps VISTAs worked to develop prototypes of "seva centers" to serve those in need. We hope our suggested prototype and our unique inculture faith based approach will encourage the Hindu Americans to develop faith-inspired community space in temples or standalone, as a destination places for comprehensive services for their own community and for the community at large.  We believe more sustained social service conduits, “Seva Centers” will augment leveraging this untapped talented resource to strengthen America.

President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships issued recommendations on key development issues of national importance. HASC brought an awareness of the needs of the Hindu American community and identified infrastructure capacity gaps in providing sustained service as is prevalent in America. Currently, HASC is working to develop ways to serve and bridge the gaps. HASC is also partnering with Let's Move initiative.

 [1] Dharmic in this document refers to people of Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh traditions

President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers……with that Hindu Americans became part of the publicly recognized mosaic of America, more than ready to strengthen our country..” President Obama's inaugural speech

On February 5th, 2009, President Obama signed an Executive Order to create the Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships to bring grassroots and experts to assess and strengthen partnerships between the United States government and community organizations, specifically as it relates to faith-based institutions. The Advisory Council examined and issued recommendations on the following policy issues:

Economic Recovery and Domestic Poverty

Environment and Climate Change

Fatherhood and Healthy Families

Global Poverty and Development

Interreligious Cooperation

Reform of Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Anju Bhargava, a resident of Livingston, NJ and a Hindu American was appointed as a Member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships on April 4th, 2009. The President’s Advisory Council issued recommendations on these issues to senior Administration officials at a day-long briefing at the White House. During the deliberation process, there was a strong recognition of America's Religious and Cultural diversity. As part of the recommendations, the section on interfaith cooperation emphasizes the need for inclusion of America’s religious diversity. Furthermore, a concerted effort has been made to highlight inclusion of groups that form as part of the post 1965 immigration era—those who have not been actively engaged with the United States government.  Under the guidance of the White House, Hindu American Seva Charities was formed to increase outreach and visibility of Dharmic seva.

Mara Vanderslice, Deputy Director of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships noted, “New Era of Partnerships: Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Presents Final Report of Recommendations  (click here for the pdf) ” that the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships would work very closely with administration officials to assess the recommendations.

Statement of support from President Abdul Kalam - April 28, 2009
"Suffering has come to America in a bigger way. Many people are hurting. Indian Americans will be ready to receive help to give help to the larger community. They are ready to build communities. Focus on character building also in your initiatives........In Turupati Temple money and gold is donated in huge amounts. I spoke with one the most learned acharyas there and suggested they put a poster which reads if you have a court case against your brother or sister drop it in the Hundi, if you have time go and educate a child.... YOU MUST SERVE....” President APJ Abdul Kalam
President APJ Abdul Kalam of India received the Hoover Award at Columbia University. President Kalam underscored the importance of service and emphasized to serve the country in which the Indian and Hindu American community had settled. He said, "Serve the country where you are settled. You are settled in America do the best to strengthen America.” 
Support from other leaders
  1. HASC report:  Presented to President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary Hillary Clinton, senior officials and Hindu/Dharmic leaders
  2. UtsavSeva Festivals of Seva: Letters of Support from Spiritual Leaders