Interior Designer Jharna Madan: Take Action on Issues That Matter Through Activism, Volunteering, or by Simply Speaking Up

Jharna Madan
- Advertisement -

BOSTON—Jharna Madan, a freelance reporter for TV Asia and the face of many non-profit and charitable organizations in New England, is an interior designer and project manager by profession.

“India is my ‘janmabhoomi’, but New England, where I have lived for over 25 years now, is my ‘karmabhoomi’, and is my adopted home,” says Ms. Madan. “New England has given me the opportunity to be part of many non-profit organizations, the most notable being Hindi Manch where I serve as Director and part of the Steering Committee.”

Over the last 10 years, Ms. Madan has worked on connecting people with each other, with the Hindi language and culture, and provided young and future generations with knowledge of their legacy and rich heritage through Hindi Manch. Hindi Manch has influenced more than 10,000 NRIs and has provided a cultural platform to more than 500 children of Hindi Manch members.

In addition to Hindi Manch, Ms. Madan has worked for organizations such as Ekal Vidyalaya, Care for Janitors, Sew We Care, TV Asia, and India New England. Each of these organizations are close to her heart and their causes and the impact that they have on the communities bring out the best in her, adds Ms. Madan.

Here is a Q/A with Ms. Madan, who will honored at the Woman of the Year Awards Gala at Burlington Marriott Hotel in Burlington, MA, on April 14, 2023. To buy a ticket for the gala, please click here.

INDIA New England News: Please tell our readers about your work and what you enjoy most about it?

Jharna Madan: India is my ‘janmabhoomi’, but New England, where I have lived for over 25 years now, is my ‘karmabhoomi’, and is my adopted home. New England has given me the opportunity to be part of many non-profit organizations, the most notable being Hindi Manch where I serve as Director and part of the Steering Committee.

This organization that has influenced more than 10,000 NRIs and also provided a cultural platform to more than 500 children of Hindi Manch members, has allowed me to cherish my presence and spread the joy and warmth I have known through Hindi language. Over the last ten years, I have worked on connecting people with each other, with Hindi language and culture, and provided our young and future generations with knowledge of their legacy and rich heritage. I delight in seeing young adults all over New England who have grown up with Hindi Manch, now carry their tradition and culture openly and with pride!

I also take deep satisfaction in knowing that I have been able to provide the Indian diaspora with a platform to connect, through over 80 events involving ~2,500 performers, and have helped build a strong, united, and connected community of people of Indian origin. Hindi Manch has allowed me to pursue my passion of working with communities with a cause, and at the same time, work on creative, bold, and innovative ideas for a social cause. I helped organize the first ever USA National Hindi Conference in 2018, during which over 1,500 families came together in Boston from all across the US. I am however especially proud of my contribution during the times of the pandemic, when I worked on virtual Hindi festivals that brought over 217,000 people from across 18 countries together and gave people much needed emotional support. During the pandemic, I co-founded Sew We Care that addressed the shortages of masks by sewing them with 100s of volunteers, and Care for Janitors that provided hot meals to Hospital workers.

Jharna Madan

In addition to Hindi Manch, I have worked for Ekal Vidyalaya since 2009 and in 2012 I created the IndiArt contest to engage children. In 2020 the art contest turned into an art movement bringing art teachers and students from different parts of the world. I was pleased to see the growth of the love for learning art and using it as a medium to do good. I also work for TV Asia and the Mishra Group, both give me the opportunity to meet and learn from inspiring people.

Each of these organizations are close to my heart and their causes and the impact that they have on the communities bring out the best in me.

For my day job, I worked as an interior designer and project manager. Here again I am fortunate that my work allows me to contribute to the growth of the place where I live. Being a commercial interior designer and space planner allows me to create functional, efficient, and aesthetically pleasing workspaces. I really enjoy picking fabric and finishes, while ensuring that the designs I create are in-sync with the building and city codes and regulations. As manager, I get to be part of the entire process of furnishing a space right from the beginning to the very end and get to work with architects, engineers, designers, vendors and installers. I derive great satisfaction from knowing that I am building my city, seeing the end-results and the increase in productivity, satisfaction, and well-being of those who use the space.

INE: What does success and failure mean to you?

JM: Success to me is a lifelong journey, a journey of learning, growth, and self-development. There was a time when success to me meant victory, but I now measure my success by the amount of hard work I put in, the amount of passion with which I work on a cause, the satisfaction I get out it, and whether at the end of the day, I am content and at peace with myself.

Failure humbles and grounds me. It makes me resilient and teaches me about my shortcomings and motivates me to do better. Failure does hurt and gives me some unpleasant moments of dejection. However, the beauty of life is that I pick myself up and move forward with more determination and zest.

Success and failure are two sides of a coin. Without failure, there can be no success, and without success, there can be no failure.

INE: The one thing you attribute your success to?

JM: Swami Vivekanand said “The rain drops from the sky: If it is caught in hands, it is pure enough for drinking. If it falls in a gutter, its value drops so much that it can’t be used even for washing the feet. If it falls on a hot surface, it perishes. If it falls on lotus leaf, it shines like a pearl and finally, if it falls on an oyster, it becomes a pearl. The drop is the same, but its existence & worth depend on with whom it associates.”

The one thing I attribute my success to in my life is the close group of family and friends I am blessed with. This group includes my parents, who raised me with strong values and prepared me to face the world. My sister, who is my support system and is there every step of the way. My husband, who has encouraged me, stood by my side through all my successes and failures. My mentors, who have guided, supported, and shared their wisdom with me, and my friends, who are my cheerleaders, and fill my life with their love and support. Finally, my daughter Aaria, who is my moral compass. She grounds me and inspires me to be a better person every day.

INE: To which charitable, community and professional group do you belong and why?

JM: I feel blessed that I have had the opportunity to contribute to a number of different organizations & causes.

Hindi Mach:

Hindi Manch is one of the largest Hindi organizations in the US with a mission of promoting and preserving Hindi language and culture. It has been a gratifying experience being part of Hindi Manch for the last 10 years. It has kept me grounded and connected me and my family to our heritage and culture.

Ekal Vidyalaya:

Ekal Vidyalay is a non-profit organization on a mission to bring basic education to every child across rural India. Since its inception, they have impacted 100 million people living in over 100,000 rural villages. Children’s education has been very important to me and through Ekal I was able to serve and brighten up the lives of Children in rural India.

Sew We Care:

During the Pandemic, I co-founded ‘Sew We Care’, a volunteer group that addressed the shortage of masks. Being part of the group helped me channelize my unrest caused by the pandemic and step up and do something for the community.

Care for Janitors:

I am also a co-founder of ‘Care For Janitors’, whose mission was to address the vulnerable population impacted by COVID-19 and to serve hot and nutritious meals to janitorial staff in hospitals. Through this group, I got to do something for heroes that were always behind the scenes and help local businesses.

Local Art for Local cause:

I have always been a promoter of art and local artists, and in 2018, I worked with the South Asian Art Gallery to launch “Local Art for Local Cause”, a social enterprise where artists, art enthusiasts, and communities come together and share a common love for art. Local Art for Local Cause provides a platform for local artists to showcase their artwork and raise money for Boys and Girls club of Boston.

TV Asia:

I have been a TV Asia correspondent for the last ten years. TV Asia is the first 24/7 South Asian entertainment channel produced and broadcast in North America. I am extremely proud of the Indian community here in New England and through TV Asia I get to cover events passionately and try to showcase the very best that each event offers. I have had the opportunity to interview celebrities such as Anupam Kher, Suresh Wadkar, Amjad Ali Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Madhavan, Vivek Oberoi, and Shashi Tharoor to name a few. My work is broadcast on Community round up, a daily program on TV Asia.

The Mishra Group:

I have been part of the organizing team of India New England’s Woman of the Year for the last 5 years. In addition, have co-hosted the event along with Mandy Pant. I have also had the opportunity to emcee India New England’s 20 under 20 and Boston Real Estate time, Woman of the Year. Being part of these events gives me an opportunity to meet inspiring people.

I am a true believer and follower of the concept of Seva and offers help where possible such as:

  • Fundraising drive for Tammy’s boutique that provides prom dresses free to students of underprivileged communities.
  • Individually raised $2,700 for the Make-A-Wish foundation.
  • Working as a volunteer for India Association of New Hampshire where I helped conceive and develop Dawat, a fundraising event for NH soup kitchens.
  • Volunteering for AIF, CRY, LearnQuest, Saheli and IAGB.
  • I like working on creative events and have produced many successful entertaining events. Some of these productions are listed below:
  • Creative Director of Broadway-style show Fully-Filmy-Funny, which included 70 local artists and received many accolades.
  • Member of local performing group ‘Meera-Mohan’ that has delivered many successful events in the area including ‘Suhana Safar’, ‘Khandan-E-Kapoor’, and ‘Badshah-e-Romance’.
  • Worked with RangManch organization to create a tribute to Kishore Kumar ‘Ye Shaam Mastani’ to support CRY.
  • Cofounder of ‘Bindaas Masti’ that organizes unique and entertaining New Year’s Eve parties for the entire family.
  • Organizer and Choreographer of fashion shows with various collections including Syna’s collection and Rachna Dhir.

INE: In what way you feel you have most positively influenced or served the local community and your company/organization and professional field.

JM: As a community leader and volunteer. I passionately support many social causes in New England and work diligently to serve the community, going above and beyond with my hard work and dedication. I try to bring creative and innovative ideas to all social projects I work for. It is a very gratifying feeling to see my work impacting the community in a positive way.

As the Director and part of the Steering Committee of ‘Hindi Manch’, one of the largest Hindi organizations in the US with a mission of promoting and preserving Hindi language and culture, I have led the organization by being part of the leadership for the last 10 years. Hindi Manch has influenced more than 10,000 established non-resident Indian families, organized around 80 cultural events with more than 2,500 performers, and worked to educate the next generation, providing a platform to more than 500 children.

I also played a pivotal role in organizing the first USA National Hindi Conference in 2018 during which over 1,500 families came together in Boston from all over the US. During the pandemic, we organized the first virtual international Hindi festival that brought over 217,000 people from across 18 countries together and gave people much-needed emotional support.

As a volunteer for Ekal Vidyalaya and creator of IndiArt, I was able to get children and adults involved with Ekal through the medium of art. Since its inception in 2012, I am proud to say that in 2020 IndiArt became an art movement that engaged over 30 established artists from around the world. We hosted online workshops and had 3,000 participants and 600 registrations for the competition. During the pandemic time, IndiArt served a dual purpose – it not only helped raise money for Ekal schools, but it also provided therapeutic relief for all from the constant strain from the pandemic. Being home-based, these workshops were a welcome change for all to destress and tap into their creativity.

During the Pandemic, I co-founded two groups. Through Sew We Care we addressed the shortages of masks and through Care for Janitors we provided hot meals in hospitals. Both these groups provided much needed relief during the tough Covid time.

INE: Any aptitude/gift or talent that not many people know about you?

JM: Those who know me, know that I am not really a foodie, hence knowing my love for baking comes as a surprise to many.

During the pandemic, when I found myself with more free time at home, my friends (who I think knew something about me that I did not), gifted me a KitchenAid mixer. After being puzzled by the gift, intimidated by the equipment, reading the user manual and watching tutorial videos, I discovered a newfound interest in baking.

I started with simple recipes like chocolate chip cookies and banana bread, but soon found myself wanting to challenge myself with more complex recipes. I began researching different baking techniques and experimenting with new flavors and ingredients.

Baking quickly became a therapeutic activity for me, allowing me to take my mind off the stress of the pandemic and focus on creating something delicious. Plus, the smell of fresh baked goods wafting through the house was an added bonus.

As I shared my baked goods with friends and family, I received a lot of positive feedback and encouragement, which only fueled my passion for baking even more. I even started my own Instagram account to share my creations with a wider audience.

INE: What are your hobbies and interests?

JM: Event planning, baking, dancing – I am a student of Kathak & Odissi dance forms, crafting and painting.

INE: Your favorite books?

JM: Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Sita: Warrior Of Mithila by Amish Tripathi

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austin

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

INE:  Your favorite quotes?

JM: “I will always shine as bright as a star, even if a cloud covers me you will still see me sparkle!” – Aaria Nagpal

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” —The 14th Dalai Lama

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”- Walt Disney

“Every drop in the ocean counts.”- Yoko Ono

INE: The one person you would like to meet and why?

JM: I would like to meet Meghan Markle. Meghan is a role model for women by showing that it is possible to overcome adversity and achieve success in her own right. She has shown that it is possible to remain poised and compassionate through the cacophony and all the hate the world throws at you. Her commitment to using her platform for positive change has inspired me to do more for my community. Like Meghan, I would also like to encourage men and women, to use their voices and take action on issues that matter to them through activism, volunteering, or by simply speaking up.

INE: Your core value you try to live by?

JM: I was raised by my parents to live by the core value of “niswarth seva”, or selfless service. Selfless service taught me to look beyond myself and how every action, big or small, can make a substantial difference. It does not take much to help, one just has to be willing. Every drop in the ocean counts! It is our responsibility as human beings to leave the world better than we received for our future generations. Through service, we can create a more connected world that is full of compassion, empathy, and kindness.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here