Indian diaspora gather to talk tech, gender, healthcare

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by Arogya World

By Deepa Pralahad, Arogya World Board Member

Arogya World Board Member Deepa Pralahad with Founder and CEO Nalini Saligram at Indiaspora's evening gala

Arogya World Board Member Deepa Pralahad with Founder and CEO Nalini Saligram at Indiaspora’s evening gala

Earlier this month, Nalini Saligram and I had the privilege of attending the second Indiaspora Forum in Airlie, Virginia. The gathering brought together 150 members of the Indian diaspora from diverse professions to discuss how to leverage our professional success as a community to benefit India and our adopted countries. The attendees included several Indian-Americans in the Obama Administration, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and many industry and academic leaders. Nalini and I were both pleased to serve as panelists as well. Nalini spoke on a panel regarding the role of philanthropy, and I spoke on ways to accelerate skill development.

There was a huge diversity of backgrounds and opinions represented, yet there were a broad consensus on a few points that are tied to Arogya World’s mission:
  • The complexity of issues facing India and the diaspora demands an innovative and scalable approach. Regardless of participant’s various specialization, there was an embrace of technology as a way to maximize reach and access of information and services to all sectors of population.
  • Gender issues were top of the agenda for both sexes. A survey of Indiaspora attendees indicated that addressing gender issues was identified as a top priority for the community, an especially encouraging signal since the attendees were overwhelmingly male.
  • Access to healthcare and sanitation were seen as central issues. Several speakers including Vivek Murthy and Sunil Wadhwani shared perspectives that meshed with our learning at Arogya World. Dr. Murthy highlighted the importance of addressing structural problems such as access to healthier foods and changing cultural cues as keys to driving better health and behavior change. Sunil Wadhwani also spoke about using technology to create better access to healthcare to help people, especially women, escape the cycle of poverty.
  • new level of engagement and interest in India was indicated by leaders from India including Ambassador Arun Singh and Deputy Chief of Mission Taranjit Singh Sandhu as well as elected U.S. politicians Ami Bera, Tim Caine, and Joe Crowley.
The event also included wonderful food and a entertainment highlighting the talents of soprano Kamala Sankaram and comedian Vijai Nathan. We came away with a sense of validation that Arogya World is at the center of many of these trends—a focus on innovation, women and ensuring better health as a major development challenge. We left with ideas, connections and a renewed sense of mission. We are looking for ways to multiply the impact of Arogya World through more dialog and collaboration with this wonderful group of people.

Deepa is an author, business strategist and consultant based in Southern California who specializes in opportunities at the intersection of consumer experience, technology and strategy. Follow her on Twitter: @deepaprahalad.