In 1994...

Let’s take a trip back in time.

The year is 1994. I am turning five years old. Bill Clinton is the president of the U.S. It costs about a buck for a gallon of gas, and only four bucks to see a movie. Michael Jordan has left basketball, the World Series is cancelled, and the Dallas Cowboys are the Super Bowl champions. Nirvana is one of the biggest things in music, and a young rapper by the name of Nas is releasing his first album.

And in upstate New York, eight young men are turning a dream into reality.

On February 7th, 1994, these eight young men stepped forward to the world and dared to be the first for generations to come. They created the first South Asian Greek organization in the world, Iota Nu Delta Fraternity, Inc.

And what better of a year to create history than 1994? It was a bold time. It was a time when America challenged its people, no matter the race or creed, to step forward and claim what was theirs. The South Asian community was still building its identity and was often misunderstood. These misunderstandings built the common stereotypes South Asians are challenged with, even to this day. The courage of immigrant parents leaving their lives behind in order to build a future for their children had gone unnoticed. But many of those parents knew something important; their children would have the opportunity to justify a South Asian’s place in America. This is exactly what IN∆’s eight founding fathers dared to accomplish.

There was no such thing as a “South Asian fraternity”.. or sorority. South Asians involvement in Greek life was essentially non-existent.

But not after 1994.

These eight men envisioned a family of brothers that would provide service to humanity and leadership in society while uplifting the beautiful South Asian culture. But how could a group of eight men do this and continue to do this, forever? They began to expand their fraternity through family and close friends, working their way from New York to Philadelphia. This gave birth to two ideas that IN∆ lives by: One – the quality of the brother is more important than the quantity of brothers. Two – the fraternity must remain a family to truly emphasize “Brotherhood Eternal”. And twenty years later, in 2014, the fraternity remains true to these ideas.

In the years following 1994, similar organizations arose. These organizations grew rapidly and boasted of their fast growth and membership rate. IN∆ remained true to its identity and the vision of their eight founding fathers. In 2014, similar organizations that began after IN∆ proudly boast 2,000 – 3,000 members.

As for IN∆? Nine-Hundred and Nine.

That’s it. Nine-Hundred and Nine brothers worldwide. Which, not by coincidence, is just the right amount.  

Now, how does IN∆ continue to “keep it in the family”? No longer is blood or friendship a primary indicator of potential.  Being a brother now means more than sharing a pre-existing bond, it means building a bond through a common journey, a common goal, and a common will. No matter race or creed, individuals who show the potential to become a brother and uphold the fraternity’s mission are eligible.

How does IN∆ find this individual?

IN∆ does not rush. IN∆ recruits. To maintain the idea that the quality of brother is more important than the quantity of brothers, the fraternity strives to actively search out unique students who exhibit the ambition to achieve the greater things in life. The fraternity’s expansion team is active all year round in search of prospects at colleges and universities around the nation who wish to bring IN∆ to their respective campus.

There has never been a more exciting and promising time to be a brother of IN∆ than right now. The fraternity is experiencing its own renaissance, exploring new ideas and practices in all its fields. Reaching twenty years of brotherhood has been a humbling and enlightening achievement. It has allowed our leaders to return to the roots of our fraternity’s success: setting precedents for the world in the boldest and most professional manner.

Twenty years ago, I was turning five years old. My biggest fears were drawn from my imagination, my biggest concerns revolved around the Power Rangers, and my biggest dreams came during nap time. I didn’t know it then, but twenty years and Nine-Hundred and Nine brothers later,  I can truly appreciate what eight young men were dreaming up.. in 1994.

by Binoy Babukutty
Feature Piece for Brown Girl Magazine