The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Scholars Society discusses importance of India

Southern Methodist University’s Scholars Society learned why India matters and what students can do to make India a more appealing place to study and work during a luncheon Thursday in the Hughes-Trigg Ballroom.

Established in 2009, SMU’s Scholars Society is an organization that focuses on increasing the interaction between the various scholar communities on campus, including BBA, President, Hunt, Meadows, Engineering Fellows and Dean Scholars.

The goal of the Scholars Society is to increase intellectual leadership and social bonding while improving retention of students through one or two luncheons a semester.

A key factor in college life for these students is the extent and force of an intellectual and academic community.  

Dr. Kartik Pashupati, an assistant professor at SMU in the Temerlin Advertising Institute, Jeffrey DeSilva, a solutions and services executive for Xerox, and Frank Roby, CEO of Concero Global LLC, encouraged approximately 30 students to realize that India is not just a country with cheap labor and poverty, but instead is a growing pool of talent that needs innovation.

“The reason India matters is because life matters to them, opportunity matters to them, growth matters to them,” Roby said.

“They are competing with [The United States] for 20 cents to the dollar. That gives us something to think about.”

Pashupati began by asking students what words they associate with India. Answers varied from cheap jobs, The Jungle Book, population growth and an emerging economy.

In 2008 and 2010, Pashupati lead SMU’s Study Abroad program in India, where many of the students who participated in the program associated the same words this group of scholars associated with India.  

When both the 2008 and 2010 study abroad students were in India, they went to local markets and bizarres, but they also went to malls, where many were surprised to see McDonalds and KFC.

After giving this example of modern retail outlets, Pashupati emphasized the importance of understanding the expectations and realities of India.

“When you come with a bunch of expectations, you might be surprised at what you find,” he said. “There is no single India, so to speak.”

While one expects to see, and will find, streets with old-fashioned carts being led by horses, they do not realize that these carts share the same road with modern vehicles.

Pashupati explained key economic indicators and the importance of the expanding middle class in India, underlining the importance of the young country as a place that offers many opportunities for growth and development and future jobs for these students.

Staying in line with Pashupati, Frank Roby stressed that students cannot get too comfortable in what they do, but instead should seek to understand and ask questions to enhance their education and job.

Roby showed the students a picture of a Banyan tree and asked, “What is it you don’t see?”

What makes this tree special and unique is that the roots grow from the branches, not underground.

“Things are not always what you think they are,” Roby said, which lead him to his next point that one person’s  trash can be someone else’s treasure.  

Roby encouraged students to get motivated through a handful of stories, emphasizing that students cannot get too comfortable because they are currently in a position to accelerate change to better the lives of others, especially in India.

Xerox executive, Jeff DeSilva, who is also an alumnus of SMU, presented the corporate side of India.

“We are involved all over the world, with sales of $22 billions, we are the worlds largest enterprise for business processing and document management,” he said, highlighting that Xerox is more than just photocopying.

Xerox’s latest global research location opened in 2009 in Chennai, India.

He explained that India matters to Xerox because India is a “benchmark for developing countries.”

“Their economy is growing on an average of eight percent a year, where the U.S. is growing at two percent,” he said.

Using India as an example of the importance of foreign investment to many companies now days, DeSilva encouraged students to prepare for the global business by studying abroad, learning different languages, understanding different cultures and seeking international internships.

President of the Scholars Society Brittany Weltner traveled to India with Dr. Pashupati this summer.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but I thought of it as an adventure, which made it fun and unique,” she said. “Every day was different but I am glad I got to go because it gives you a new perspective of what it means to be American and how you can have an impact over there.”  

However, Pashupati acknowledged that many people are resistant to going to India whether it is mental block or other pushbacks.

Vice-President John Bryant does not view the resistance to India as a pushback. Instead, he believes the problem is rooted in a lack of awareness.

“India is a land that no one knows about yet they hear about it in the news. Ask any kid to try and visualize India and they aren’t going to imagine a very favorable picture,” he said.

“The illusion we create, due to writers like Thomas Friedman, is if you go to work in India, you think you will work in a cubicle doing some IT job. No one realizes there is creativity in India.”

After the luncheon many students were encouraged to study abroad in India, or at least inform others of what India really is.

“I am going to stay more aware and try to know what is going on in the world. There is a lot of transformation happening right now,” Bryant said.

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