In the late 60s and early seventies, wave upon wave of educated young Indians, in abject disillusionment with the snail’s pace of growth at home, left Indian shores in search of a future elsewhere. This act of theirs for seeking a better life was looked upon as an act of betrayal in some quarters. “BRAINDRAIN !” screamed the paper headlines of that time. Politicians of all hues and shades rued the fact that the enormous sums of moneys spent on their education by the state had gone to waste … these were doctors, engineers, teachers and many other professionals that the country needed badly to form the right framework for growth. There was despair all round. S Ravi paints an evocative picture of the Diaspora scenario over the years and cherry picks to profile some of the notable achievers …
The western world chose to acknowledge these young guests, giving them the untrammeled freedom to innovate and thrive, and thrive these young voyagers to distant lands did, through sheer gait and hard work rising up to the very top in their respective adoptive countries. We, apropos, will focus here on people who made it big in the allied domains of international finance, monetary policy and banking. There have been numerous names of achievers who got polished in India, then went on to shape up their careers abroad and rise to the top ranks. A few of these known names are Anshu Jain of Deutsche Bank, Victor Menzes of Citibank, Jay Sidhu of Sovereign Bancorp, Rana Talwar of Standard Chartered, Aman Mehta of the HSBC, and Vikram Pandit of Citigroup Inc. And then there are some other top-notch bankers and financial bigwigs who are lesser known, given their consciously-kept low-profile, and those who are still clattering up the hierarchy – like Sanjiv Das of First Data Corp., Purna R Saggurti of the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and V Shankar of Gateway Partners (formerly with Standard Chartered PLC).
However, not all of them have chosen to remain away from their motherland. With the era of liberalization and the permit-raj dispensation dwindling away … new winds have began to blow over the Indian financial landscape. The young men who were once berated as deserters now hear the call of the mother and return in droves. They bring with them the dynamism and discipline of the western world … and that coupled with their boundless love for the motherland workes like magic. So did the saga of the return of the NRIs begin, who have helped reshape the India story. Here is a list of a few of such exceptionally talented Indians who have made India proud …
Puri has been a Managing Director of HDFC Bank Ltd., since September 1994 and also serves as its Chief Executive Officer. Prior to this assignment, he was the CEO of Citibank Malaysia from 1992 to 1994, and has nearly 40 years of experience in the banking sector in India and abroad to his credit. He has contributed significantly to enable the Bank scale phenomenal heights under his stewardship. During his tenure, he has led the Bank through two major mergers in the Indian banking industry i.e., merger of the Times Bank Limited and the Centurion Bank of Punjab Limited with HDFC Bank Limited. The subsequent integrations have been smooth and seamless under his inspired leadership.
Prem, popularly known as the Warren Buffett of Canada, founded Toronto-based financial services firm Fairfax Financial Holdings in 1985, and remains its chairman and CEO. Fairfax now maintains property and casualty insurance and reinsurance interests across four continents and holds stakes in numerous companies, including IBM and phone maker BlackBerry. He also owns a stake in Fairfax India, a publicly traded subsidiary investing in Indian businesses (which has so far invested approximately US$ 370 million into Indian enterprises). He strongly believes in the philosophy of “doing good by doing well’.
Sobti has been the Managing Director and CEO of IndusInd Bank Ltd., since February 1, 2008. He has 33 years of banking experience in large state owned and multinational banks, including ANZ Grindlays Bank plc., and the State Bank of India. He has served as an Executive Vice President – Country Executive, India and Head – UAE and Sub-Continent at the ABN AMRO Bank N.V. His responsibilities have included consumer & commercial businesses in India, Pakistan and oversight on UAE support.
Dr. Raghuram Rajan
‘Rockstar Rajan’ is currently the 23rd Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. Prior to this he was the Chief Economic Advisor in the Ministry of Finance, Government of India., and the Eric J Gleacher Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago’s Booth School. Between 2003 and 2006, he was the Chief Economist and Director of Research at the IMF (International Monetary Fund). He is known to be a die-hard pragmatist, which is reflected in his various papers, especially the controversial piece of writing, ‘Has Financial Development Made the World Riskier?’. Though initially ridiculed, he was later commended abundantly for predicting beforehand the US economic crisis of 2008. His straightforward and practical approach has been instrumental in battling inflation which had relentlessly plagued India when he assumed the role of RBI Governor.
Khosla is an entrepreneur, investor & technologist. In 1982, he co-founded Sun Microsytems and served as its first chairman and CEO till 1984. Thereafter he became a recognised venture capitalist, with several successful early-stage investments. He formed his own venture capital firm ‘Khosla Ventures‘ in 2004. He also invested in an Indian microfinance company ‘SKS Microfinance,’ which offers small loans to poor women in rural India. He has committed around US$ 450 million of his personal wealth to various “green” initiatives like ethanol factories, solar-power parks, et al. His green investing has made him immensely popular in the media globally.
Ahuja is the Managing Director and CEO of RBL Bank Ltd., and is an accomplished Banker with a career spanning 29 years. Prior to joining RBL Bank, he was the Managing Director & CEO of the India operations of the Bank of America, from May 2001 to August 2009. During his tenure the Bank of America was rated as the ‘Best Foreign Bank in India’, ‘Most Efficient bank in India (across the entire Industry)’ and was rated amongst the top 2 in Credit Quality by Ernst & Young Financial Express survey in 2008 and 2009. During his long stint at BoA, he has had assignments in the USA, Hong Kong and all four Regional Offices in India.
Alka Banerjee, known as the Queen of the equity cult, reached American shores in 1994. She is the Managing Director – Product Management at Standard & Poor’s ‘Dow Jones Indices (S&P DJI)’. She heads up S&P DJI’s Product Management Group, which has global responsibility for the commercial success of each of S&P DJI’s product lines: US Equity, Global Equity, Fixed Income, Commodities, Real Assets, Strategy, and Custom indices, as well as Data. Since September 2013, she has also been serving as the CEO of Asia Index Private Limited, a joint venture between S&P DJI and the BSE of Mumbai, India’s premier stock exchange. In 2015, she was recognized as one of the twenty most influential global Indian women by The Economic Times, one of India’s leading newspapers.
Srinivasan is a Senior Executive Vice President and the Chief & Appointed Actuary of HDFC Life, with 18 years of experience in Life Insurance and Pensions both in India and the UK. He was one of the two candidates from Asia to be selected by the President of Institute of Actuaries, UK, in the year 2000 to work for Watson Wyatt, UK, where he provided a range of consultancy services to clients on various aspects of company pension schemes. He then moved on to work with Aviva UK where he worked in different areas including pricing, reporting and stochastic modelling, before being seconded to Aviva India.
This trend of Indians returning from abroad to work here has picked up pace with the widening recovery trend in the country’s economy. NRIs are in demand as they have gained experience in developed markets. Generally, they are considered to have worked in a more professional environment, where ownership and decision-making has been encouraged. In addition to this, they have a good understanding of the cultural differences between India and other developed markets. Today’s new-age employers value the international experience and exposure NRI’s bring with them. It is perhaps now more feasible to imagine the fructification of the spiralling aspirations of the Indian Dream.
JAVED KHAN – HIS TASK IS SECURING THE INDIANAPOLIS TEMPLE
By A. Srivastava
Meet Javed Khan, an Indian-born Muslim who heads the security at the largest Hindu temple in the United States. Throughout the world there exist many local, regional, national and international interfaith initiatives; several are formally or informally linked and constitute larger networks or federations. But some initiatives are also at personal levels. One such small but really significant initiative is the appointment of an Indian-Muslim as head of the security at the largest Hindu temple in the United States of America.
Javed Khan heads the security at the Indianapolis Temple, which is said to be the largest Hindu shrine in the US. Lt. Javed Khan was appointed as the Director of security for the temple, an institution that has been in existence for several years but which had held its opening ceremony only in 2015. On his appointment, Lt. Khan says that it all started a few years ago, when he married off his daughter to a Telugu boy at this selfsame Hindu temple, after which he began getting to know more and more people at the temple. “We are all Indians. Half my family is Hindu. I do not believe in this Hindu-Muslim thing … and I am just doing my duty. I am not doing anything special or extraordinary,” says Khan, also adding “My message is this – we are all one. We are all the children of God. There is but one God and then there are different forms and names that we choose to worship”.
Many of the temple visitors tend to think of him belonging to the Hindu faith. According to Ravi Pattar, the Chairman of temple’s Board of Trustees, “He (Khan) provides us security on the weekends and at major events”.
Khan settled in Indiana in 2001, a year after he migrated to the United States. He had been coming to the US since 1986 for participating in various martial arts championships. A Muslim protecting a temple is unheard of in these days and times. It sends a strong message of inter-faith cooperation and social harmony at a time when rhetoric on religious intolerance is on the rise worldwide.