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For Indian Americans there is nothing beyond reach

The desire to give back to India is prominent among many Indian Americans. Prof. Mullainathan plans to use the grant money to do "something good," perhaps through an NGO in India.
PTI | By Ashish Kumar Sen
PUBLISHED ON JAN 07, 2005 04:20 PM IST

Coming from a poor family in a non-descript north Indian village, Vinod Gupta, "Vin" to his friends, is now the multimillionaire CEO of infoUSA, a leading provider of business and consumer databases and sales and marketing solutions headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. He counts former president Bill Clinton and more than a handful of influential US Congressmen and Senators among his close friends and golfing buddies.

He also holds the distinction of being the only Indian American to have slept over at the White House. Reminiscing about that night, Mr Gupta says, "Mrs Clinton said, 'why don't you stay here? And who wouldn't want to stay at the White House?" One night in the Lincoln Bedroom was enough to dampen his enthusiasm. "I wouldn't want to stay there ever again… Everybody is watching you. One night is enough."

In more ways than one, Mr Gupta has come a long way. His story is one of many that inspire Indians living the American dream.

According to the latest US census figures, there are close to 1.8 million people of Indian origin living in the United States. This steadily growing pool is reflective of India's multiethnic, multi-religious and multilingual society. And, like in India, the community here is involved in everything from medicine, law, finance and engineering to managing grocery stores and driving cabs.

Soon after he had won the prestigious $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship, Sendhil Mullainathan celebrated by treating himself to a new pair of $49.95 Alan Iverson basketball sneakers. Prof. Mullainathan is among 24 persons who have been awarded the Fellowship - commonly referred to in academic circles as the "genius grant." "I'm not really a splurging type of guy," says the soft-spoken 29-year-old Associate Professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Expecting to shell out more than $100 for the shoes, he adds, "I was pleased to get a bargain."

The desire to give back to India is prominent among many Indian Americans. Prof. Mullainathan plans to use the grant money to do "something good," perhaps through a nonprofit organization in India.

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