Every Indian contributes to the development of our nation, irrespective of where they reside. Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, which is observed on January 9 every year, marks the contribution of the non-resident Indian community. Many have done their part to leave an indelible mark in society.
Here we look at five NRIs who were in the limelight in 2018:
Gita Gopinath is India's shining star in the international community. Her name evokes inspiration in many. She is the first woman to be appointed the chief economist of the International Monetary fund and the second Indian to hold the post after Raghuram Rajan, the ex-governor of the Reserve Bank of India.
Gita is an outstanding economist who has authored over 40 research articles and has held many distinguished positions. Some of her other exceptional achievements are: being the second Indian to be made a permanent member of the economics department of Harvard, a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and a member of the economic advisory panel of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. She was named one of the top 25 economists under 45 by the International Monetary Fund in 2014 and was chosen as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2011. In 2018, she was also elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Another NRI who has found success outside the country is Dhivya Suryadevara, who is originally from Tamil Nadu. She pursued her MBA from Harvard Business School. As a person driven by ambitions, she has held various positions at one of the world’s largest automobile manufactures General Motors, and has quickly risen up the ranks during her 12 years there.
Joining GM in the year 2002, she has held many prominent positions in the company before becoming the CFO. Some of the prominent positions she held are: the CEO and chief investment officer of GM Asset Management in 2013 followed by Vice President of Finance and Treasurer in 2015, and later on as Vice President of Corporate Finance at General Motors in 2017 before starting her current job as CFO of GM on September 1, 2018.
Her achievements include making the list of Forbes ‘50 Under 40’ in 2015, named Automotive News Rising Star in 2016 and making it to Crain's Detroit Business’ ‘40 Under 40’ in 2017.
Known as the Oracle of Ontario, Prem Watsa’s story is one that exemplifies that you don't find success, but work hard to earn it. With just USD 8 in his pocket during the 1970s in Canada, Watsa grew from being a salesman to being the chairman of Fairfax Financial Holdings, a company he started in 1985.
Watsa has also invested about USD 5 billion in India and provided jobs for about 2,50,000 people.
He was the ninth chancellor of the University of Waterloo and was elected as the first chancellor of Huron University College. He was named a member of the Order of Canada in 2015. He was also awarded the special jury award by a media organisation in the NRI of the Year Awards 2018.
Jogiraj Sikidar is a musician, who is acclaimed for his mastery over the legendary style of Thumri rendition of the late Siddeswari Devi and Begum Akhtar. He graduated from Kirori Mal College and is an alumnus of IIM, Ahmedabad.
Beginning his musical journey at the age of four, Sikidar has been promoting classical Hindustani music for 25 years. In 2016, Sikidar launched the Malhaar Centre for Performing Arts in Dubai, UAE, to connect the NRI community to their heritage. Sikidar has been directing and producing Indian Broadway musicals through Dubai-based Malhaar, UAE’s largest Indian performing arts ensemble.
An engineer at heart, Vivek Kopparthi is a man with a mission. He aims at creating medical equipment that benefits the patient rather than the hospital. Kopparthi's friend, while visiting a hospital, saw children affected by jaundice put under light bulbs to cure them. He and his friend formed a plan to create machines that make these solutions or cures patient-friendly. The first invention of theirs was a phototherapy device used for giving the same cure as the special fluorescent light bulb. The company is now working on a tool to treat infant hypothermia.
Hailing from Tamil Nadu, Kopparthi did his masters in Arizona State University where he currently resides. He works in the company Neolight he co-founded with his friend.