The Indians of Findlay

That business and public relations conference I referred to last week, jointly organised by the Public Relations Society of India, Madras Chapter, and the University of Findlay, Ohio, had me catching up with a group of a dozen students and a couple of faculty from the University’s business school, including their leader, Dr. Paul Sears, Dean of the College of Business, and a Professor in the College, Nabarun Ghose.

And I was delighted to discover that both had Madras connections. Dean Sears was from Yale University, where he was a classmate of President George Bush. Yale, as all of us in Madras know, was named after Elihu Yale, Governor of Madras — though that’s a connection the Dean appeared to have forgotten.

As for Ghose, he was once a Madrasi; his father, Amol Ghose, representative here of the Amrit Bazar Patrika, was one of the founder members of the Madras chapter of the Public Relations Society of India (PRSI), together with Gyan Haksar, R.K. Baratan, M. Gopalakrishnan of the TI Group and a few others.

Findlay University, 125 years old, is in a small town near Toledo and had hoped to grow big when oil was struck near it a few decades ago.

The Marathon Oil Company set up its headquarters there, but when it decided to move to a bigger town, Findlay went back to depending on its university.

That University is best known for its College of Business, which is ranked high amongst Midwest universities and the smaller universities nationally.

Which is why, no doubt, Indian students have been making a beeline to it. Of its 4,500 students, 500 came in from India last year. In the coming year, the number is expected to rise to 750.

They are mostly from Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat and constitute the largest group amongst the foreign students who are almost a third of the student body.

I asked a couple of the Indian students from Findlay who were attending the conference how they liked Findlay and they thought it was a wonderful campus, but when I asked them why they thought so and why they chose the College, the curious answer was “Because it is safe — and that’s what we had heard from our friends too.”

Safe? I’m still trying to figure out that answer.

Meanwhile, easier to figure out with those numbers is that they would have raised a cricket team.

Though only two years old, they proudly told me, they had beaten the much bigger University of Toledo XI, which had a cricketing tradition some years older.

The way groups like these are spreading the cricket gospel in the U.S., the game would put down firm roots across the country, they were convinced — and they feel if T20 Cricket was introduced in the U.S. it could well have Americans showing a greater interest in the game.

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