Business Today

From the grassroots

Inclusive growth is no hollow buzzword for Shah.

E. Kumar Sharma        Print Edition: Jan 9, 2011

January 2, 2000: After attending a wedding in Mumbai, Anand Shah is on an Air India flight back to Boston to finish his undergraduate degree at Harvard. Seated next to him is an elderly gentleman complaining how bad the situation is in India and why nothing can be done about it. The dialogue leaves an impression on Shah.

October 2, 2001: Shah is back in India a month after he sets up Indicorps, a US-based non-governmental organisation, or NGO.

Indicorps is focused on promoting civic participation in India's development by engaging young Indians from around the world in grassroots development projects.

Anand Shah
CEO, Piramal Foundation

Previous employer Match School, US

Why I came back India is a growing country and there are so many opportunities to contribute to its progress

If i was not in India I would likely be working on technology start-ups or innovative education systems in the US

High point in India Seeing extremely talented young Indians quit their jobs to contribute to their country because they believe they can do something

Low point in India Many, but I knew what I was coming to, and am lucky to have had such an interesting journey
"I moved to India because it is a growing country with great needs from which emerge many opportunities to contribute to its progress. I want to be proud of everything India is and stands for, and am here to do my part in making that happen," says Shah, who is the founding CEO of Piramal Foundation and also CEO of Piramal Water, a rural water franchising model. As part of the Piramal Foundation, he was also involved in the setting up of the Grassroots Development Laboratory, an entity in Rajasthan where young people are encouraged to play a role in finding solutions to rural problems. He has also mentored Source for Change, an all-women rural business process outsourcing, or BPO, firm.

Shah, holder of a US passport, has been with the Piramals since 2006, but has also been involved with a number of other initiatives. For instance, he was part of the founding team of Teach For India, a movement of graduates and professionals who commit two years to teach full-time in under-resourced schools. Shah is also a co-founder of India Guide Publications, which publishes comprehensive tourist guides on lesser known places in India. There is more. He has been a co-founder of Persource, which creates applications for smartphones. And Shah has been part of the Aspen Institute's India Leadership Initiative. "What appealed to me was his passion to do his bit to make a difference in India and also get other youth involved in it," say Ajay Piramal, Chairman of Piramal Enterprises. "My journey in India started with encouraging Indians abroad to contribute to India's rise by giving their time where India needs it most - in the villages, towns, and slums where talent is least willing to go," explains Shah.

Shah is not alone. His wife Shilpa runs the Piramal Fellowship for Sustainable Business. Born and raised in the US, she is a graduate from Boston University and an MBA from the Indian School of Business, or ISB.

So what lies ahead? "I don't know where I will be five years from now but I would like to work on big challenges that will have a serious impact on inclusive and equitable growth in India," says Shah, who loves his game of tennis each day between 7 and 9 a.m. Advantage India.

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