From Indiana to India
Oct. 10, 2006
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Over the past 15 years, India has been the second fastest-growing country in the world, according to various economic reports -- a status leading to its claims that it is the world's fastest growing free market democracy. Much has been written about the country's vast work force, and if you've spoken recently with someone at a call center, chances are they were sitting in India.
Two initiatives this week by the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University demonstrate that its faculty and students see themselves playing an important role in the future of India's vast, emerging economy.
Daniel C. Smith, dean of the Kelley School, will be visiting government ministers of commerce and economics, as well as senior administrators at companies and universities across India during a seven-day trip there, Oct. 12-19. The focus of his discussions and presentations will be on creating partnership opportunities for student/faculty exchanges, Kelley Direct programs and executive education.
Also, Smith plans to make an important announcement Friday (Oct. 13) in Pune, India.
"I am excited about the wide range of opportunities that India offers the school. Our goal is to have a significant and sustained presence there," Smith said.
In conjunction with Smith's trip, M.A. Venkataramanan, chair of the undergraduate program in Indiana University's Kelley School of Business and a native of Chennai (formerly Madras), India, will be leading a group of about 60 top sophomore students there. The group leaves Bloomington on Thursday (Oct. 12) for 10 days.
"I want them to see their future competition," said Venkataramanan, who has been leading one of the largest and most recognized undergraduate business programs in the world since last year. "They will see people who probably are going to make one-tenth of their starting pay after coming out of a similar four-year institution and how hard they are willing to work."
He said that many Americans have the myopic view that India's competitive edge is simply based upon lower wages paid to its employees. Rather, the emerging workforce there also is developing a knowledge-based economy. Since many American companies increasingly have global ambitions, there is a growing need for a better understanding of emerging markets like India's. This trip will give IU students an opportunity to experience such a market "up close and personal."
"The school wanted students to get an appreciation for what an emerging economy is and to get the whole picture," Venkataramanan said. "I would like for them to see why they need to have a lot more global knowledge to manage effectively."
This is the first year for the Kelley School's Sophomore Block Program, which requires students to take courses in accounting, communications, technology and business law. All participating students follow the same course schedule, which has enabled the school to organize the trip. A high level of interest in the program already has led school officials to make it a permanent feature of Kelley's offerings.
Included in the travel itinerary are manufacturing sites, an advanced computing tech center, the national parliament and a call center with more than 16,000 employees. The students will have an opportunity to meet several Kelley alumni who now lead companies in India and are involved in governmental affairs.
While in Delhi, they also will see the Taj Mahal and other historic sites, and witness the opening night of Diwali, a five-day celebration that is as significant to Hindus as Christmas is to Christians.
Jamie Prenkert, assistant professor of business law, currently is teaching two of the courses in the Sophomore Block Program.
"We're taking a very focused approach to Indian business and culture, so these students have been exposed to core business courses they don't normally get this early in their academic careers," Prenkert said. "They get that theoretical exposure and will immediately get to apply it in a practical way … The fact that we're exposing them, in a real way, to the globalization they hear about all the time in many of their classes is an important experience for them."
International trips of this nature are common in MBA programs, but Venkataramanan said such an opportunity is unique this early in undergraduate programs. Typically, these kinds of experiences are made available to students in their junior or senior years, and many of those students elect to visit more mature economies such as those in Europe.
Whitney Phillips, a student from Chesterton, Ind., said the experience will help her as she pursues a degree in international business.
"In addition to getting a real insider view of some major Indian corporations, there is a lot to be said for the experience of learning overseas instead of in a classroom," she said. "I am looking forward to doing an internship in London this summer, hopefully, and another study abroad trip in Japan. I think this experience will give me a taste of how well I can adapt to other countries and cultures."
Sang Yong "Daniel" Kim, from Cheong Ju, South Korea, also weighed in.
"It is an exciting opportunity to actually be a part of such a fast-emerging country like India," he said, "because it will give me a chance to feel the atmosphere of a dynamic business environment … that will be necessary to succeed in the future."
Those interested can keep up with the students in India through student and staff blogs at http://kelley.iu.edu/ugrad/sophblock/.