Inaugural India Day celebrated at Kennesaw State University

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Top India scholars and experts share knowledge on U.S.-India relations in daylong forum

KENNESAW, Ga.  (Jan. 27, 2014) — India has a great influence on the world not only as the largest democracy, but also as one of the largest food producers and its human resource strength in information technology, according to Consul General of India in Atlanta Ajit Kumar, who spoke during Kennesaw State University’s first India Day on Jan. 24.

Kumar joined other academic experts, government officials and community leaders, including the Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago Dr. Neil Parsan, Emory University Marketing Professor Jagdish Sheth (who founded the India China America (ICA) Institute), and Georgia Attorney General Samuel Olens, to explore issues relevant to India and the India community in Atlanta, during Friday’s symposia devoted to understanding India’s social, economic and political culture.  U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, who was unable to attend, created a video message for India Day attendees.

“Both countries, India and the U.S., are committed to building peace and prosperity, and they converge on a majority of issues,” Kumar said. “The gender and social gaps are widening. It challenges us to rededicate ourselves to reunite the world.”

Panel discussions during the daylong forum on the Kennesaw State campus focused on key issues relevant to India, including religion, holistic medicine, business, women’s issues and information technology.  

Representatives of the religious practices Sikhism, Sufism, Hinduism and Christianity shared their insights on what religion means to them and how it is practiced in the Indian context, while panelists on women and social issues explored some of the employment issues that women face while attempting to work in the India marketplace.

“I think India Day gave me a better cultural understanding,” said Amanda Ray, a senior majoring in English and philosophy.  She came to “catch a few of the panels” but stayed almost the entire day, intrigued by how women are combating gender issues like domestic abuse, and learning more about the use of holistic remedies in India.

With more than one billion people living in India, Kumar added that there is an abundant exchange of students and scholars, with nearly 100,000 Indians studying in the U.S.   Several Kennesaw State University students who studied, researched or worked in India as part of an Education Abroad program talked about their experiences during the panel discussions.

From doing business in India to understanding India diaspora — a group of people living outside of their homeland— to practicing alternative medicine, India Day offered plenty of interaction.  Four KSU student dancers from the College of the Arts performed a traditional Indian dance, called Bharathanatyam, to showcase the classical art form.  

The idea of having open dialogue and developing new partnerships is what sparked Govind Hariharan, executive director of the India China America (ICA) Institute, and his colleagues to plan India Day at Kennesaw State.

“Our mission at the India China America (ICA) Institute is to provide greater understanding and greater collaboration in the areas of trade and business,” Hariharan said.  “Through India Day, KSU’s faculty partnered with the Consulate of India and several Indian-centered businesses to educate and provide exposure to students and the community on relevant U.S.-India issues.”

The event was organized by Kennesaw State’s India China America (ICA) Institute in the Michael J. Coles College of Business, in partnership with the Consulate of India in Atlanta, Kennesaw State’s Indian Faculty and Staff Association (IFSA) and the Institute for Global Initiatives (IGI).

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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering 90 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing and a Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing student population of more than 24,600 from 130 countries.