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archive: Forget Drucker, Embrace Valmiki and Veda Vyasa

Forget Drucker, Embrace Valmiki and Veda Vyasa

Anuradha Raghunathan
Rediff on Net
April 30, 1999


    Title: Forget Drucker, Embrace Valmiki and Veda Vyasa
    Author: Anuradha Raghunathan 
    Publication: Rediff on Net
    Date: April 30, 1999 
    
    A group of Wall Street analysts, doctors, lawyers and engineers will
    leave behind their ephemeral worldly worries this weekend and go for
    lessons on love and leadership -- not from Linda Goodman and Peter
    Drucker, but from Valmiki and Veda Vyasa.  
    
    Fifteen Indian men and women in New York who are members of an
    organisation that brings together young Indians -- Network of Indian
    Professionals, New York (NetIP-NY) -- will meet at the Arsha Vidya
    Retreat Centre in the heart of the Poconos in Saylorsburg,
    Pennsylvania.  
    
    They will get in touch with themselves and take a leaf out of the
    scriptures.  Professionals at turning points in their careers and
    lives will attend sessions on how they can lead others by first
    understanding how to lead themselves.  In the quiet confines of the
    ashram they will imbibe the deeper meanings of the Ramayan, the
    Mahabharat, the Vedas and other scriptures, on May 1, 2.  A workshop
    on love will focus on the Hindu philosophy of attachment/detachment.  
    
    "There is so much that we can learn from Indian texts,'' says Munish
    Khaneja, 26, NetIP Networking chair, who has taken the lead in
    organizing the event.  "We always turn to Western management
    principles.  It is time to take a look at what our ancient scriptures
    can offer.'' 
    
    This is just one of the multifarious programs organized by NetIP-NY
    for its 700 members.  Though the professionals are all Indians living
    in New York area, the template of Indian diversity is the same and
    there is a cornucopia of events to meet the varying needs.  The events
    therefore run the entire gamut from fashion shows to spiritual
    retreats.  
    
    NetIP-NY was founded in 1993 to create a common social ground for the
    white-collar workforce in the 25 to 40 age group in New York.  Since
    then it has traveled far beyond that mandate The members have
    networked, partied, talked, walked, danced, mentored, tutored and
    served the community they live in.  
    
    The New York chapter is affiliated to NetIP-USA, the national
    organization that has groups all over the United States and Canada. 
    Typically, there is a good mix of professions with doctors, lawyers,
    computer programmers, investment bankers, financial analysts and
    journalists.  The members range from the most recent immigrants to
    second generation Indians.  Professionals who just enter the country
    find it easy to plug into the Indian social circuit instantly, make
    new friends and widen their circle of contacts.  
    
    Janaki Nadarajah, 27, a Sri Lankan who has settled down in Canada, is
    now studying podiatry in New York.  "I like being around Indian
    people," she says.  " I joined NetIP because I wanted to get to know
    professionals from other fields.  The atmosphere is really easy and
    people are approachable.  Everybody comes here to talk and get to know
    other people.  There is a lot of informal counseling and professional
    consultation that goes on.  You can talk about anything in these
    meetings.  Even if you have a question about which lawyer to consult
    for a tax problem, you can find people who can give good
    suggestions.'' 
    
    At another level, NetIP helps Indians to thrash out issues of
    identity.  When it comes to questions of marriage, career and family,
    Indians and non-Indians filter them through different thinking
    prisms.  NetIP provides a healthy space for Indians to analyze these
    questions with people who share similar cultural backgrounds.  
    
    "There are two things that make you really different from non-Indians
    -- the way you look and your culture," says Vikram Parekh, 26, a
    computer programmer in New York.  "When I am with non-Indian friends
    there are a whole range of issues that never come up.  But when I am
    with Indian friends these become major topics of discussion.'' 
    
    There are structured events that raise issues which are unique to the
    Indian community.  This January NetIP-NY organized a seminar, Sangam
    Interactive developed by a member in Chicago.  And sure enough the
    question will a traditional arranged marriage work in this day and
    age?  --- was asked.  While there were no obvious answers it led to
    other culturally relevant queries -- what do Indian Americans expect
    of themselves?  What do they want from a spouse?  Do Indian American
    men relate better to Indian American women?  What happens when a man
    who is brought up in the United States marries an Indian who has never
    lived here or vice versa?  Why do Indian men go to India to get a
    bride?  The members say that the event helped them to flush out a lot
    of issues in their own heads.  
    
    But even as NetIP helps strengthen the Indian identity there is no
    clannishness because there is a conscious attempt to integrate with
    mainstream American life.  Most events feature leading American
    professionals alongside Indians.  A number of outreach events are
    geared toward giving back something to the community that the Indians
    live in.  
    
    On the same note, NetIP members are also constantly trying to develop
    ties with India.  Suresh Kumar, 34, NetIP-NY president, "We want the
    Government of India to recognize us as a group that can contribute to
    the country through Foreign Direct Investment.  We want to work out
    arrangements for Indians to invest in the Indian stock market.'' Every
    time an important Indian leader visits the United States, NetIP
    members ensure that they attend the functions.  
    
    The basic fabric of NetIP is, however, professional development. 
    Henna Shah, 29, a lawyer from New Jersey, recently arranged a workshop
    on how to improve presentation skills.  She believes that the
    organization provides an opportunity for young Indians to meet their
    dream Indian mentors who discuss their work, career trajectory and how
    to break through the glass ceiling.  
    
    Recently, NetIP-NY doctors rubbed shoulders with Dr Samin Sharma, a
    leading cardiologist at Mt Sinai Hospital who performs more than 1,000
    angioplasty procedures per year.  
    
    At an e-commerce workshop last year there were industry leaders in the
    information technology sector enthusing young professionals.  Even as
    the twenty-somethings benefit from interaction with the more senior
    professionals they feel the need to do their bit and bring the process
    one full circle.  NetIP members volunteer to become big
    brothers/sisters to South Asian children, under a mentoring program
    called Siksha.  They provide academic, financial and social support to
    children who will become the next generation of professionals.  
    
    And the networking continues........  
    
    Contact:www.netip-ny.org; info@netip-ny.org;.  1-800-215-9907 
    
    Anuradha Raghunathan has written for The Hindu and a number of major
    publications in India.  She is now majoring in journalism at Columbia
    University.
    



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