Pennsylvania State University

Giving Back At Home--Smeal MBAs Return to India To Serve

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For Spring Break ‘13, we decided to fly home to visit our families in Bangalore, India. This also presented a great opportunity for us to give back to our community. We picked a project that we felt would be faced by most of us as we graduate from business school. Although India has undergone rapid development in the last two decades, it is unclear at what cost such growth has taken place. Every development project has displaced communities and has had a lot of negative social and economic impacts on the communities. For example, dam construction projects alone have displaced 21 to 33 million people in India.

We met with one such displaced community in Bangalore. The land on which these people were living legally belonged to the "Economically Weaker Sections" of the society. However due to government’s favoritism towards big businesses, corporations were allowed to demolish the homes of the poor for commercial purposes. We learned about this community through a Facebook group and decided to help. On visiting the site, we found that a lot of displaced people were elderly citizens, women and children. These people were living with bare minimum resources. We spent some time gathering resources (clothes, blankets, monetary donations etc.) and distributed them at the site. However, this is only a short term solution. We felt it quintessential to spread awareness of such exploitations within our circle of influence (i.e. family, friends, and colleagues) so that governments at the expense of growth will not compromise on basic rights of the citizens, especially the lower class since they have very little influence on policy making.

One of our biggest takeaways from this experience is that although the community benefits greatly by embracing capitalism, there is always a flipside because it compromises or undermines some of the weaker sections of society. As future business leaders, it is imperative that we are aware of this fact and strive to create sustainable growth.

 

Shridhar Vijay Kumar, Rahul Panicker

Smeal Class of 2013

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