Tufts Students in South Asia

As a group that encourages dialogue on current affairs in South Asia, we believe that it is valuable to learn about the practical work that our students and alumni are doing in South Asia. For those of you interested in gaining similar work experience or those who may share similar interests, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and put you in touch with these students. We have talked to students with a diverse range  of work experiences and have profiled their work here. We hope to continue updating this page and hope that you enjoy reading about our students’ work.

Saanya Gulati, ’12.

Legislative Assistant to Members of Parliament (LAMP) Fellow at PRS Legislative Research in New Delhi India.

On Working for Member of Parliament Jayant Chaudhary (RLD) in the Lok Sabha, elected from Mathura:

Having studied at Tufts, I was inspired by the sense of political awareness and civic engagement. This experience showed me how an informed citizenry can form the essence of a vibrant and robust democracy. Ever since, I was been keen to learn more about the dynamics of political and social change in my own country. The Legislative Assistants to Members of Parliament (LAMP) Fellowship is a unique forum that has enabled me to learn about how policies are shaped and legislations are enacted, to interact with people who are central to the political and legislative processes in India, and even contribute to these processes in some way.

Working for a Member of Parliament has exposed me to the dynamic environment that our parliamentarians operate in. The MP that I work for is directly elected and plays an important role in a smaller regional party, which has given me incredible insights into the complexities of governing our nation, as well as the intersection between politics and policy. It has been challenging but enriching to fit into such a work environment, and extremely rewarding to have my own research being used by my MP in conferences, in parliament, and in front of the media. As a keen observer of politics, with an interest in policy and legislation, I have had the opportunity to work on a diverse range of issues related to national policies, as well as those relevant to my MP’s constituency. Visiting his constituency was also a unique experience and has really helped me foster a deeper sense of appreciation for the varied responsibilities and duties that our leaders have to fulfill. I am glad that I have been able to contribute to political and legislative processes in some way, and work in a field that few young people have the chance to experience.

Karan Randhawa, ’11.

CEO of Roof For Two:  handles the management, strategy, as well as fundraising initiatives.

Roof For Two is a motorcycle accessories company dedicated to “Challenging the Weather” for the 60 million motorcycle owners in India. We have developed a patent pending design for a light weight, portable motorcycle canopy that allows motorcyclists to commute without being inconvenienced by the rains, winds and intense sun associated with unfavorable weather conditions in India. Our product has received excellent responses from over a hundred potential customers (through focus groups with test rides and surveys), multiple dealerships and distributors (who are interested in ordering samples), and an international conglomerate who recently approached us with great interest in the product and in future rounds of financing.

We have been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine (March 2012), won the Top 30 Indian Innovators Award (March 2012), won IIT Envision (Jan 2012), an acclaimed national product design competition, have been incubated at MassChallenge (June-Oct 2011), the world’s largest incubator and startup competition, and won the Tufts Business Plan Competition (Apr 2011).

Karan’s experience working with a start-up in Delhi: 

“I wanted to work in India but not in the corporate world and Roof For Two enabled me to do both”

While studying at Tufts I always wanted to return to work in India. I had developed a lot as a person at Tufts but barely had had an opportunity to engage myself with India the way I had wanted. However, I did not want to work a corporate job in India because of the low satisfaction, poor employee treatment, and low (very low) pay.

When my teammates and I started working on Roof For Two our senior year it slowly became apparent that we were onto something. We had grasped a problem and were working on a promising solution. As Roof For Two made significant achievements and gained a lot of validation from research and market feedback, we grew more convinced.

I chose to continue working on Roof For Two rather than return to the US to a lucrative job offer for many reasons. Some of these reasons have to do with the appeal of a startup and some with India itself.

I love the opportunity that I have to build something of our own, both a company and a product. The satisfaction that comes with the impact that each one of us makes to this organization is tremendous, and addictive.

Our founding team is the legal team, the distribution department, the fund raisers, the HR people, the market researchers, tea makers (and drinkers), and much more. In the time that I have worked with Roof For Two I have learnt a lot and have had experiences that are unparalleled in larger organizations. This is something I realized early and the opportunity to learn affected my decision.

The founding team itself is another reason I stayed to work on Roof For Two. Many of us were friends before we started Roof For Two and I really like working with our group. It is great to work with someone you get along with, especially when it’s in an environment as stressful as starting your own company.

As I mentioned, I wanted to work in India but not in the corporate world and Roof For Two enabled me to do both. Though starting a company is stressful and requires a lot of work, mostly one is free to choose the hours in which to do the work. The flexible work hours allow me time to practice and play football competitively with my team in Delhi, something that I was dreading giving up. Even days that I have 12 hours of work I can still take time out to practice since there are no fixed hours. I can also spend time with friends and family who over the four years at college had come to view me as a holiday visitor. I am immersed in a community that I wanted to return to after college and am engaging with them in a way that is invigorating.

Neha Madhusoodanan, ’14

Intern at the Uruguay Embassy in New Delhi, Summer 2011 (Neha is second to left in the picture)

I worked at the Uruguayan Embassy in Delhi this summer for two months. When I was going in, I was nervous, as it was a different country and I knew I’d be speaking and using two languages that are not my own.

An outsider’s perspective:

“Being a working girl in a foreign country was so interesting. It was a new experience each day…After the honeymoon period, however, I got to witness some of the things I believe are fundamentally wrong with the Indian system.”

I experienced the urbanization Delhi has undergone in the past few years because of the Commonwealth games, with the awesome metro system and the better paved roads and overpasses. At the embassy there were three Indian employees, the ambassador, and a few Spanish-speaking employees. It was a very interesting mix, and I got to see what each person’s perceptions were of the country. Some were in love with India, while others longed to go home to their native countries. Being a working girl in a foreign country was so interesting. It was a new experience each day, from enjoying a couple of Kingfishers with my colleagues after work, to meeting ambassadors from other countries at gatherings. There was never a dull moment. After the honeymoon period, however, I got to witness some of the things I believe are fundamentally wrong with the Indian system. Bureaucracy’s infinite red tape coupled with the narrow-mindedness of many people I met got to me. The state of women’s reproductive and sexual health in Delhi is abominable. Someone quoted a statistic to me that someone gets raped in Delhi every 18 hours. It was horrific to learn that and realize how many go unreported. Though while I was there I saw the riots of Baba Ramdev and his supporters, I did not see a women’s movement make headlines. I couldn’t understand how such a big issue could be swept under the rug. It seemed unreal. But overall, India is trying to make some big changes. I couldn’t believe how jaded my family seemed to be about the whole thing; it seemed that all they could talk about was family gossip and what clothes were the most couture. If that is the fate of the upper middle class in Delhi, then nothing will ever get done. “My experience definitely reignited my interest in foreign policy though, and it has given me a very interesting story to tell people in interviews.” 

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