Fairfield University Professor Gita Rajan invited to join delegation to international conference building United States-India relations


Fairfield University research is in keeping with major priorities set by Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi to empower women and girls in India

Professor Gita RajanThe United States India Business Council (USIBC) has invited Fairfield University Professor Gita Rajan, Ph.D., to join its delegation to a major conference in New Delhi, November 18-22, 2014 – “India-U.S. Technology Summit: Tackling 21st Century Challenges Together.”The summit aims to build productive partnerships in joint research and development, technology commercialization, and joint business ventures designed to promote trade and investment between the two countries.

The U.S.-India Business Council is the premier business advocacy organization representing America’s top companies investing in India, joined by global Indian companies. At the conference, Dr. Rajan will discuss how one aspect of the enormous Indian economy waiting to be fully realized is the training of Indian women entrepreneurs through skill building and vocational training.

“As an invited member of the U.S. India Business Council Delegation, I am delighted to shine the spotlight on an issue that is part of my academic and professional training and is close to my heart – empowering women in society,”said Dr. Rajan, whose talk is entitled, “Awakening Potential: Pathways For Women’s Entrepreneurship.” The summit is organized under the aegis of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) jointly with the United States Department of State, USIBC, and India’s Department of Science and Technology (Government of India).

Professor Rajan is the project director of “Impact India 2021: Elevating the Value of Women and Girls”and a senior research fellow at Fairfield University. As the thought leader, Fairfield University has designed a research project that is innovative and collaborative, forging partnerships with academic institutions and community organizations across India. 

This research project at Fairfield University is also in keeping with major priorities set by Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi to empower women and girls in India.

Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., president of Fairfield University said, “We are proud to have Dr. Rajan invited to attend the U.S. India Technology summit and support her efforts to promote the entrepreneurial and technological potential of the women of India. Our University is committed to serving as a leader in women’s scholarship in the sciences, technology, engineering and business, and our research is in line with the direction of the Indian Government to support the increased focus on enhancing the value of women and girls.”

“Impact India 2021”aims to increase educational capacity for girls and employment capacity for women. This in turn will provide access and work opportunities for women in one of the largest work forces in the world in two high priority sectors – technology and life sciences – for global corporations. India traditionally employs women in both sectors. “Our project will have a sustainable footprint because it will build attitudinal capacity among younger generations to succeed in a more gender-neutral work environment, enhance productivity and generate growth based upon stable social conditions,”said Dr. Rajan, who is professor of English in Fairfield University’s College of Arts & Sciences.

There is immense potential in India, waiting to be tapped, in training women to become entrepreneurs, according to Dr. Rajan. “Additionally, this is a vital and opportune moment to be forging fresh links between entrepreneurship and various categories of vocational training and skills building,”she said. “When national economies and global corporations are searching for new growth opportunities and innovative strategies to garner greater return on investment than through traditional ways of doing business, the idea of entrepreneurship is getting serious attention as a key enabler.”

Professor Rajan’s talk will explore why and how women’s entrepreneurship is important to India today; what skill-building steps need to be put in place to integrate women entrepreneurs into local and regional economies; and what measures are needed to make women’s entrepreneurship sustainable in this dynamically fluid moment under the new regime.

The talk will draw on strong data-driven research design of the pilot study of “Impact India 2021: Elevating the Value of Women and Girls,”an implementation research project that Dr. Rajan directs in collaboration with nine Indian universities as partners. The sample base is in seven major Indian metropoles. She noted, “This is a historical moment to be doing this research as the Indian state has clearly signaled the importance of empowering women and girls. In working on our big data, we will take into account earlier state, public and private studies and statistics, including, for example, the 2014 issue of “Men and Women in India,”paying special attention to chapters 3 and 4 that deal with national statistical comparisons between men and women in literacy and employment. The preliminary findings of Impact India 2021 conclusively demonstrate that having women in the workforce enhances both a family’s economic status and increases the nation’s gross domestic product within an approximate range of 4 percent to 6 percent.”

In a related endeavor, Bruce Berdanier, Ph.D., dean of Fairfield University’s School of Engineering, said that “Impact India 2021”is a very important research initiative offering a significant opportunity for having an Engineering faculty member be part of Rajan’s multidisciplinary team.  “We are very interested in developing a deeper understanding of diversity in engineering education, and how the School of Engineering can help our students have a larger societal impact now and throughout their careers.” Dr. Berdanier, who is working with students to establish a Chapter of Engineers Without Borders at Fairfield University, continued that he would “welcome the idea of identifying a potential service learning project for his undergraduate engineering students to begin engaging around the theme of drinking water or water sanitation with an ‘Impact India 2021’ community partner in Jaipur, Rajasthan.”

For more information, please visit http://www.fairfield.edu/academics/schoolscollegescenters/academiccenters/centerforfaithandpubliclife/researchscholarship/impactindia2021/.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on November 20, 2014

Vol. 47, No. 120

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