Linguistic and cultural barriers can never be the hurdles in a woman’s journey to chase her dreams and the stories of such valiant women are many in Karnataka. Dr Arathi Krishna, current Deputy Chairman of Karnataka NRI Forum, is one such woman who has become a symbol of woman power in Karnataka through her endless efforts in various spheres of life. Having spent most time of her career in the US as a key personality interfacing with the Indian-American community and its life there, this Kannada Rajyotsava Award 2013 winner has shown that a proud Kannadiga woman can do many things for her state and above all the nation. Currently, at the helm of NRI Forum, Arathi Krishna is spearheading its activities to be a succour for non-residential Kannadigas.
Hailing from Karnataka’s Udupi, Arathi Krishna has born in a family with a strong political background. Arathi Krishna is the daughter of Begane Ramiah, former Karnataka Minister, and Seetha. Though being the daughter of a politician has been an advantage for her when it comes to getting something extra in life, Arathi has always believed that whatever be the family support, ultimately one must prove oneself if one is to really succeed in life. And one’s innate qualities, intelligence, the passion to serve people etc., make the difference between dismal failure and grand success. It is undoubtedly this principle, she put into practice, that has helped her to be successful in life and create her own distinct identity in the society.
Arathi has shown a natural tendency for diplomacy and tact from a young age and it has made her successful in whatever she endeavoured to do. Arathi has always had an urge for the rough and tumble of the politics of democracy. Oratorical and organisational skills in her blood have made her a proficient public speaker. In 1980, when her father, then an MLA, had to move to Bengaluru after being appointed as a minister in the Gundu Rao cabinet, Arathi has also moved out of Udupi in pursuit of her dreams. She has joined Mysore University, where she secured a Masters in Political Science. After her marriage, she has moved to the United States where she continued her studies at George Mason University and earned a Masters in International Commerce and Public Policy.
During her studies at Mason University, Arathi has helped in bridging linkages between the University with India. She has helped setting up an India Study Centre in the George Mason University and worked for the “India Study Abroad‟ Program as the project coordinator. Arathi has also helped in forging linkages between the Bangalore University and the George Mason University. Throughout her life in the US, Arathi has got the chance to interact with the NRIs and PIOs in the US. She has built, maintained and nurtured extensive contacts with the influential Indian American community in the US. She has also held the post of an Adviser to the largest Indian American organization in the US namely the National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA) in an honorary capacity.
After her studies she has been appointed as Community Development Officer in the Indian Embassy in Washington DC in 2007 by Th Indian Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs where she got the opportunity to be in touch with Indian affairs. As a Community Development Officer, Arathi has networked extensively to take the message of India’s engagement with the Indian American community to all parts of the continental United States. It has opened vistas for her to travel around the length and breadth of America publicising the schemes of Indian NRI ministry. It has also brought Arathi into contact with Indian community members from all over the US.
Finally, she has decided to give it all up and return to India to assume a social service role in her home-state of Karnataka and thereby fulfilling her dream of being useful to the poor and downtrodden in the state. For achieving that she has made a small beginning in 2009 by starting the Krishna Foundation to provide education opportunities for economically disadvantaged children and improve infrastructure facilities in rural schools. Through Krishna Foundation Arathi has taken up several such initiatives, particularly in and around the rural belt in her father's constituency.
In 2016, the state government has appointed Arathi as the Deputy Chairman of Karnataka NRI Forum. Ever since then the NRI Forum, under Arathi Krishna’s leadership, has been doing its best to reach out to Kannada diaspora abroad and make them come closer to their motherland. Arathi has initiated the plans to create a database of agencies offering overseas jobs to prevent fraud. NRI Forum has also started creating a registration system for around four lakhs Non-Residents Indians (NRI) Kannadigas, including 1.9 lakh in the Gulf and about 90,000 in the United States. Karnataka NRI forum has further started pre-departure orientation for blue collar workers following many instances of them landing in legal trouble due to ignorance of law.
NRI welfare committees will be set up in all districts for the first time, to help those seeking employment abroad, legal aid, counselling etc. The forum, set up in 2008 with the main objective of addressing the grievances of the Non-Resident Indian (NRI) community, has been struggling to make much impact until the Siddaramaiah government agreed to allocate a budget and come out with a new NRI policy. Arathi Krishna has said that the NRI Forum is hoping a paradigm shift with enough funds from state government.
For her contributions to Karnataka, the Sahyadri Association has recognised and honoured her in February 2008, at Ambedkar Bhavan, Bengaluru, in the presence of Governor of Karnataka. The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) has felicitated her in June 2008, at a function in Washington DC for her activities for helping Indian diaspora abroad. Arathi has also been conferred Honorary Doctorate by the Kuvempu University in Shimogga. Arathi krishna has received Mahatma Gandhi Samman award at Global conclave on India’s economic Development held in Bangok, Thailand for her immense service to NRIs for 20 years.