One of the world’s smartest and most prosperous Indian diaspora clusters could be found nestled around the pristine stretch of the San Francisco Bay Area. Amid growing wealth, outstanding professional, and entrepreneurial success, the realization to do something about the Indian community on mind-body wellness has never been stronger than now. No doubt, the ongoing pandemic is seen as a powerful trigger. And my past experiment with a wellness movement that began after a mega-conference in July 2018 confirms its immense potential to benefit NRIs worldwide.
A dynamic Wellness Ecosystem led and supported by doctors, tech entrepreneurs, health heroes, and proliferating wellness enthusiasts is moving into top gear. This Wellness Movement branded as Crack the Wellness Code is an independent startup program of India Community Center (ICC) – North America’s largest secular Community Centers for South Asians. This enterprise is funded by entrepreneurs, investors, corporate executives, doctors, and health heroes and will extensively leverage technology for global outreach to access content and a variety of services that align with the wellness needs of the Indian diaspora.
Apart from ailments related to genetic dispossession, the incidence of lifestyle-related physical and behavioral health issues continues to rise in the Bay Area. This problem is rampant among the Indian diaspora across the US as well as the rest of the world. Preventive care, holistic wellness best practices focusing on lifestyle and diet could benefit a wide section of the 18 million Indian immigrants worldwide (2021 UN Report for immigrant data).
After rolling out 120+ events and ramping up virtual sessions post-COVID, 12 Programs catering to Seniors, Youth, Women, Support Groups, Health Hero, Lifestyle, Diet, Behavioral Health, Heart, Diabetes and Cancer, are being designed to meet the growing needs of the diaspora not only in the US but also across the globe. A dedicated wellness code-breaking experiment is being tried out in India after the initial COVID debacle. The activities also extend to chronic diseases, pain management, allergy, neural, dental, skin, eye, gut health, and rare diseases.
Besides partnerships with India centric global networks like Stanford CARE (Center for Asian Health Research & Education), South Asian Heart Center, AAPIO (American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin), alliances are being forged with other institutions to serve as a wellness resource center to tap best practices and content. Additionally, the CWC-ICC ecosystem generates its own content. Organizations like Indiaspora are only natural allies to spread the benefits worldwide. Global networks like TiE are already contributing to the outreach efforts. Other partners include TrueNorth, PCRM (Physicians Committee of Responsible Medicine), UC Irvine (Institute of Future Health), UCSF MASALA Group, and Hume Center. Initial engagements with corporates and government agencies have begun.
Shaping relevant public health policies and best practices for the immigrant Indian community are indeed major tasks ahead. We need to take charge of our own health before it gets too late. Instead of relying on distorting media blitzkrieg, it is time to embrace India’s evidence-based wellness practices that evolved over time while taking the best of proven Western therapies. Initial CWC-ICC success in generating such tailored content and services for overseas Indians can be scaled, aided by an efficient delivery model.
Our efforts continue during 2021 and beyond. By enabling technology, we are scaling up our global footprint as our innovative Wellness Ecosystem has increased to more than 550 stakeholders. We reached out to 55,000 people through these initiatives (10x and more through on-demand videos, web, and apps). Crowdsourced wellness content and services through technology platforms will cater to the Indian diaspora. These five introductory videos demonstrate the range of content to empower the community at large: Brain Health | Heart Health | Happiness | Eye Care | Laughter Yoga. Also, check out ICC Crack the Wellness Code website to learn more.
What started in the Bay Area has spread across the U.S. and become a global movement, with a formal India Initiative being launched. We are continuously evolving our wellness platform to engage the Indian community in multiple ways. Our movement began with Dr. Pankaj Vij, a Board Member of American College of Lifestyle Medicine who spearheaded wellness initiatives at Kaiser Permanente, and who was in search of a “Health Hero” to inspire his patients. He found Naren Bakshi, an entrepreneur and trustee of ICC, who was a living success story of someone who whole-heartedly embraced Indian wellness principles to lead a healthy lifestyle. Their dramatic meeting culminated into a mega-conference in July 2008 that quickly prompted me to join as a third co-founder, to realize the immense potential of building a wellness ecosystem across the San Francisco Bay Area with nearly 400,000 South Asians, and ultimately going global to benefit the entire diaspora. Working together, we are bringing together resources, stakeholders, best practices, and technology to nurture this innovative wellness ecosystem.
We also are playing a role in shaping and supporting public health policies related to South Asians by working closely with U.S. Congress. Congressman Ro Khanna, serving in the US House of Representatives since 2017, had endorsed our Wellness Movement. We are also supporting initiatives leading from the legislation passed by Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, the first Indian woman in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2016. To make this wellness movement truly global, we are seeking long-lasting engagement from the Indian diaspora through multiple programs. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your interest areas and make yourself and your family a part of this movement to enhance mind-body wellness.
While multiple events are lined up for Seniors, Youth, Support Groups, and the Community at large, join us for April 24, 2021 session focusing on “Families and Caregivers of Patients with Serious Illness”. Register here for this event which is being organized in partnership with the Medical School at Stanford University focusing on real-life situations of South Asians.
Somnath is the Co-Founder & Executive Director of ICC Crack the Wellness Code, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has led several global organizations and networks across India and the USA to build and manage ecosystems for the tech industry, entrepreneurs, and wellness space.