Engaging Overseas Indians
in Indian Higher Education
IIT Gandhinagar

February 22-23, 2019

IIT Gandhinagar will host a two-day conclave on February 22-23, 2019, on ways that IITs and other leading educational institutions in India can engage with overseas Indians in promoting excellence and advancing their global stature.

Leveraging Overseas Indians in Advancing Higher Education

The large number of professional NRIs and persons of Indian origin are an incredibly valuable resource that Indian educational institutions can tap for their academic and institutional advancement. Many overseas Indians contribute their time, talent and treasure already and this Conclave will explore models, challenges and opportunities for partnerships.

Over the years, IITGN has benefitted immensely from the support of several overseas Indians who are excited by its innovative programs and keen to contribute to educational development back home. NRIs have been crucial in the success of several of IITGN’s signature programs, including faculty chairs, fellowships, scholarships, interdisciplinary centers, etc. Their support has turned IITGN into a truly global campus. Nearly 40% of IITGN undergraduate students receive study abroad opportunities, which is perhaps the highest in India and three times the average at U.S. universities. Several overseas Indians serve as visiting faculty, scholars in residence or industry associates at IITGN. Yet others volunteer their time and effort in fundraising or expanding our overseas network.


The Conclave will celebrate IITGN’s overseas supporters and brainstorm on ways to engage more widely and deeply with overseas Indians and global professionals who are keen to advance India’s educational stature on the global stage.

The Conclave will feature intellectually stimulating discussions on various aspects of overseas Indian contributions to Indian higher education. Heritage visits of Ahmedabad, India’s only UNESCO World Heritage City, and Lothal, a Harappan-era site, as well as tours of IITGN’s labs, research centers and physical facilities are also planned.

Overseas Indian Higher Education Conclave
Feb 22-23, 2019

 Feb 22
 9:00 am 
 9:30 am 
 Welcome and presentation by Director
 10:00 am 
 Introductions and opening remarks by participants
 11:00 am 
 Models for Global Partnerships: Examples and Experiences
 12:30 pm 
 2:00 pm 
 Facilitating Global Student and Faculty Exchanges
 3:30 pm 
 Global Fundraising: Opportunities & Challenges
 4:30 pm 
 Leveraging Overseas Indians in Institutional Development & Fundraising
 7:00 pm 

 Feb 23
 7:00 am
Cultural Visits:
Heritage Walk of Ahmedabad
Lothal, Harappan-era archaeological site
Gandhi Ashram, Adalaj Stepwell 
 1:30 pm
Working Lunch
 2:30 pm
Recommendations, Strategy and Follow-up
Building Academic & Research Partnerships
Institutional Development & Fundraising
 5:00 pm 
Meeting Ends
 7:30 pm


NRIs, returned NRIs, PIOs, and overseas professionals from various backgrounds and professions, such as education, business, finance, technology, healthcare, hospitality, transportation, retail and wholesale trade, arts, etc. are invited to participate in the Conclave.

This is an invitation only event, but we welcome nominations, including self-nominations, of overseas professionals, returned NRIs and expats interested in contributing to India’s educational development. The Institute will provide complimentary local hospitality, transportation and on-campus accommodation to all participants.


Mr. Samir Desai | Founder and CFO of the Desai Foundation (DF)

Mr. Samir Desai is the Founder and CFO of the Desai Foundation (DF). The Desai Foundation aims to create, implement and promote programs that support general education, health, livelihood, and community development. Mr. Desai is the CEO of Aditi Inc. He serves as an advisor to companies seeking growth, improved profitability and success. He invests in companies and ventures and devotes a considerable amount of time to community enrichment programs and mentoring new entrepreneurs. Mr. Desai received his M.S. in Industrial Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology and his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Maharajah Sayajirao University in India.


Dr Hemant Kanakia | Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Gemplex Internet, Inc, USA

Dr Kanakia was a Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Gemplex Internet, Inc. Dr Kanakia served as a General Partner at Columbia Capital LLC and joined in 2004, and focused on technology investments. Prior to starting his first company, he worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories from 1990 to 1996 and Tata Consultancy Services, India from 1975 to 1977. He served as the President of Washington D.C of The Indus Entrepreneurs and served as its Trustee. He also served or serves on the Boards of the International Red Cross Washington DC, the Board of Advisors for University of Maryland School of Engineering, and the Board of Visitors, Virginia Tech, and the ICEO-TiE DC Chapter. He served as a Member of Advisory Board at OCG Ventures, LLC. Dr Kanakia received a B.Tech from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, an M.S from Case Western Reserve University, and a Ph.D in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University.


Prof Chelva Kumar | Educator, Businessman, Entrepreneur and Human rights worker

Prof Chelva is an educator, businessman, entrepreneur and human rights worker. Presently retired, he works as Visiting Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar; University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka; and University of California Irvine. He teaches mechanical engineering, mathematics, business and Healthcare Finance. His research interests are in the areas of solar power in India and prosthetics for war amputees of Sri Lanka. Prior to retirement, he served as the President of EPIR Technologies, Inc., a defense company, and as Chairman of the Board, Chief Financial Officer and Corporate Responsibility Officer with Daughters of Charity’s centralized business division with $2 billion gross annual revenues. Chelva received a Ph.D. in Mechanical and Civil Engineering with a minor in Aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology and a Health Care Executive MBA from University of California, Irvine. He lectures across India and US on Sri Lanka.


Mr Avi Nash | Trustee, The Indira Foundation, USA

Mr Avi Nash has more than 40 years of experience in the chemical industry, corporate finance and investing. He currently runs an investment management firm. From 2003-2013 he advised some of the world’s leading chemical companies on Acquisitions and Corporate Strategy. Earlier, Avi was a Partner of Goldman Sachs & Co. where he helped lead the firm’s Global Chemical Industry effort, playing an instrumental role in numerous mergers, acquisitions and initial public offerings. He was consistently ranked as the #1 investment research analyst covering the chemical industry during the 1990-2002 period. Prior, his career was split between Booz Allen & Hamilton (strategy consulting) and UOP (petroleum-refining technology). Avi served as a Director of Sigma-Aldrich, a Fortune 500 Life-Sciences company for 10 years. He currently chairs two charitable Foundations. He earned an MBA from Northwestern University, an M.S from Syracuse University, and a B.Tech (ChE) from IIT-Bombay, which named him a distinguished alum.


Mr K H Patel | Former Indian High Commissioner to Uganda and Ambassador to Rwanda and Burundi

Mr K H Patel is former Indian High Commissioner to Uganda and Ambassador to Rwanda and Burundi. Earlier, he was India’s Consul General in France and a Diplomatic Officer at India’s Permanent Mission to United Nations in New York, USA. He had served as a Member of the Indian Delegation to United Nations Tribunal on the Rann of Kutch Dispute between India and Pakistan at Geneva, Switzerland. He has also represented India at several international conferences including United Nations General Assembly sessions in New York, USA; UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Switzerland; and UNESCO General Assembly Session at Sofia, Bulgaria. For last 9 years he was Chairman of Gujarat Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Non-Resident Gujaratis (NRG) Committee and NRG Centre. Mr Patel is te author of “An Envoy Looks Back: A Memoir,” also published in Gujaratu as “Rajdoota na Sansmarano.”. Mr Patel is a Trustee of Sabarmati Mahatma Gandhi Ashram.


Mr Naresh Samtani | President, NCS GeoResources, LLC, USA

Mr Naresh Samtani has over 30 years of professional experience with emphasis on geotechnical engineering. He is the owner and president of NCS GeoResources, LLC, located in Tucson, Arizona, USA. He earned his doctorate from the University of Arizona and is a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Mr Samtani has performed and directed analysis, design and field investigations for a variety of multi-disciplinary infrastructure projects, including highways and bridges, in different parts of the USA. He has led development of comprehensive design policies at the local, state, and national level on a variety of topics (bridges, walls, pavements, and scour) with emphasis on multi-disciplinary interaction between geotechnical, structural, drainage, roadway, and construction specialists. He has taught over 100 live short courses and over 100 webinars. He is a certified instructor for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). He is also a live- and distance-learning instructor for the ASCE.


Mr Rutesh Shah | CEO & Founder of Infostretch

Mr Rutesh Shah (CEO & Founder of Infostretch) is a veteran of the technology industry with a passion for building and leading great teams. Over his 20 years of experience as a quality and management consultant, he has assembled a track record for leveraging technology and innovation to significantly improve software quality. Rutesh has led Infostretch for the last 15 years and created a multi-award winning and highly admired global services firm. Rutesh is founder-board member and leader of QMetry – a leading digital quality platform. Prior to Infostretch, Mr. Shah was Vice President of Reliability Services at Arsin Corporation, where he deployed quality solutions for mission critical distributed applications for clients like Bank of America, McKesson, Oracle, Informix, Charles Schwab, Varian Medical and E2Open. Mr Shah has spoken at multiple conferences and user groups nationwide, where he has shared insights about quality and test automation. He is involved in various community projects and is leading the 1% Pledge at Infostretch. He is a mentor to several start-ups and enjoys guiding the next generation entrepreneurs. Mr Shah holds a BS in Computer Science from Gujarat University and an MS in Computer Science from MS University


Mr Jyotindra Shukla | Former Director of Risk Management (North and South Americas) ALSTOM, USA

Mr Jyotindra Shukla was most recently director of Risk Management (North and South Americas) ALSTOM, USA. He 40 years of work experience in India and in USA in the power generation industry. He has worked with several utilities and engineering companies in various capacities as engineer, project controls manager, project manager, program manager and risk management director. He has published extensively in Indian Roads Congress Journal, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Civil Engineering Magazine, PMI (Project Management Institute) and other societies. Mr Shukla holds a BTech in Civil Engineering from IIT Bombay, a M.S. in Structural Engineering and MBA from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.


Prof Nitish V Thakor | Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, USA

Prof Nitish V Thakor is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. He has also served as the Founding Director of Singapore Institute for Neurotechnology at the National University of Singapore. Prof Thakor’s technical expertise is in the field of Neuroengineering, where he has pioneered many technologies for brain monitoring to prosthetic arms and neuroprosthesis. He has published over 380 refereed journal papers, more than 20 patents and co-founded 3 active companies. Prof Thakor is a recipient of a Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health and a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation, and is a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, IEEE, Biomedical Engineering Society, and International Federation of Medical and Biological Engineering. He is a recipient of a Distinguished Alumnus Award from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, India, and a Centennial Medal from the University of Wisconsin School of Engineering.


Prof Dinesh O Shah | Professor Emeritus, University of Florida, Gainesville, USA

Prof Dinesh O Shah is a Professor Emeritus and the First Charles Stokes Professor of Chemical Engineering and Anesthesiology, University of Florida, Gainesville, USA. Director Emeritus of Center for Surface Science & Engineering (1984-2008), University of Florida, Gainesville, USA. He is also a Founding Director (2008 – 2017) of Shah-Schulman Centre for Surface Science and Nanotechnology, Dharmsinh Desai University, Nadiad, Gujarat, India. He has been conferred numerous awards of International repute. President’s Scholar Award (1975), President's Medallion for Excellence in Teaching and Scholarship, University of Florida (1985), United Nations (UNIDO) Consultant to India for Pesticide Research Program (1988), Florida Blue Key Distinguished Faculty Award, University of Florida (1992), Pride of India Award, (Swami Narayan Sanstha of USA) (1993) He has also been consultant for various Multinational Companies like Procter & Gamble, Alcon Laboratories. Dr. Shah has contributed 10 books, 15 patents, and has over 375 research papers in refereed journals, monographs and books. Apart from Academics he has funded many organisations in the field of education and research in both India and USA.


Mr Jamshed Bharucha | Inaugural Vice Chancellor of SRM University, Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh

Mr Jamshed Bharucha is the Inaugural Vice Chancellor of SRM University – AP, Amaravati, in the newly planned capital smart city of Andhra Pradesh. He is President Emeritus of Cooper Union, and previously served as Provost & Senior Vice President of Tufts University. He spent most of his career at Dartmouth College, where he served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, and as the John Wentworth Professor of Psychological & Brain Sciences. He has been awarded numerous research grants from the National Science Foundation, and received the Huntington Teaching Award at Dartmouth. He is a Trustee of Vassar College, where he has chaired the governing board’s Budget & Finance Committee and Academic Affairs Committee. He was awarded the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Alumnae & Alumni of Vassar College. Bharucha grew up in Mumbai, where he attended the Bombay International School. He received his undergraduate degree from Vassar College, master’s degree from Yale University, and PhD from Harvard University. He was a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford.


Mr Anandmohan Tiwari | Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department, Gandhinagar, Govt. of Gujarat

Shri A M Tiwari is currently the Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department, Gandhinagar, Govt. of Gujarat. He holds a Masters degree in Zoology from Banaras Hindu University and obtained his degree in Business Administration from the Univerza v Ljubljani. An Indian Administrative Services officer, Shri Tiwari has served the Government of Gujarat in various capacities and responsibilities, including Principal Secretary - Education, Secretary – Rural Development, and Principal Secretary - Tribal Development. He had a stint as the Executive Director of SWA-Shakti Project in the Department of Women and Child Development in the Ministry of HRD, Government of India. He was also the Managing Director of Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd.


Mr Digant Sompura | Honorable Chairman, Non Resident Gujaratis Committee, Ahmedabad

Mr Digant Sompura is an editor of the US based newspapers Gujarat Times, News India Times and Desi Talk. He is also Political Editor of Mantavya News Channel, Ahmedabad. He is former Economic Political & Communication Adviser to the British Deputy High Commission in Gujarat and a member of Foreign Trade Committee of the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce & Industry. He was Cultural Ambassador to the International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts (UNESCO) and deputed as liaison official for India by NOIA (National Organization of Indian Associations) and FIA (Federation of Indian Associations.

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