Four Indian Americans in list of 2020 Padma Awardees

Dr. Jagdish Sheth. Photo:

Four prominent Indian Americans are among the 141 Padma Awardees for 2020, announced by the Indian government, on the eve of India’s 71st Republic Day celebrated on January 26, 2020.

The list of awardees this year comprises of 7 Padma Vibhushan, 16 Padma Bhushan and 118 Padma Shri Awards. Thirty three of the awardees are women and the list also includes 18 persons from the category of Foreigners/NRI/PIO/OCI and 12 posthumous awardees.

Veteran marketing guru and academic Dr. Jagdish Sheth is the only Indian American this year to be conferred the Padma Bhushan, for literature and education. He has over 50 years of combined experience in teaching and research at the University of Southern California, the University of Illinois, Columbia University, MIT, and Emory University.

Three other Indian Americans were awarded the Padma Shri: Prof. S.P. Kothari and Prof. Prasanta Kumar Pattanaik were honored for literature and education, while billionaire Dr. Romesh Tekchand Wadhwani figured in the list for his tremendous achievement and contribution in the trade and industry arena.

Sheth, who was born in 1938 in then Burma (now known as Myanmar), is the Charles H. Kellstadt Chair in Marketing, at Emory University.

Prior to coming to Emory University, Sheth was the Robert E. Brooker Professor of Marketing at the University of Southern California and the Walter H. Stellner Distinguished Professor of Marketing at the University of Illinois. He was also on the faculty of Columbia University and MIT.

Also known as “Jag,” Sheth has published more than 350 research papers and books in various areas of marketing, including consumer behavior, multivariate methods, competitive strategy, relationship marketing and more recently, marketing for emerging markets.

His book ‘Theory of Buyer Behavior’, co-authored with his mentor John Howard, is one of the foremost books in the field of consumer psychology and marketing.

Sheth is an American Psychological Association Fellow and past President of the Association for Consumer Research (ACR). He is also a Fellow of the American Marketing Association and the Academy of Marketing Science.

Among his past and present accolades, Sheth was the recipient of the Viktor Mataja Medal from the Austrian Research Society in Vienna (1977) and the 1989 Outstanding Marketing Educator Award from the Academy of Marketing Science. In 1991 and again in 1999, he was also recognized as the “Marketing Educator of the Year” by Sales and Marketing Executives International.

Sheth is the recipient of all top four academic awards bestowed by the American Marketing Association (AMA). These include the PD Converse Award for Marketing Theory (1998), Charles Coolidge Parlin Award for Marketing Research (2004), the Richard D. Irwin/McGraw Hill Marketing Educator Award (2004) and the William L. Wilkie “Marketing for a Better World” Award (2014).

In 1996, he was elected to be the Distinguished Fellow of the Academy of Marketing Science. Subsequent honors include the Outstanding Leadership Award by the AMA Foundation in 2002 and the Global Innovation Award and Marion Creekmore Award, both from Emory University.

Over the last three decades, Sheth has received more than 30 awards as a thought leader in marketing, consumer behavior and emerging markets.

Throughout his career, Sheth has offered hundreds of presentations in at least 20 countries. He has also provided consulting for numerous companies in the United States, Europe and Asia. His client list includes AT&T, BellSouth, Cox Communications, Delta, Ernst & Young, Ford, GE, Lucent Technologies, Motorola, Nortel, Pillsbury, Sprint, Square D, 3M, and Whirlpool. He has also served on the Board of Directors of several public companies including Norstan, Cryo Cell International, and Wipro Limited.

Sheth has a Bachelors degree in commerce from University of Madras, and an MBA and Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh.

A renowned philanthropist as well, Sheth, and his wife, Madhuri, through the Madhuri and Jagdish Sheth Foundation and the Sheth Family Foundation, have given to over 50 community, academic, and healthcare organizations in Atlanta and around the world. CARE, UNICEF, the Empty Stocking Fund, Habitat for Humanity, The Atlanta Union Mission, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, and The Salvation Army, are among organizations whose missions are furthered through the generosity of the Sheths.

Prof. S. P. Kothari. Photo courtesy of Sloan School of Management.

Kothari, recipient of a Padma Shri, is the Gordon Y Billard Professor of Accounting and Finance at the Sloan School of Management.

Previously, he served as global head of equity research for Barclays Global Investors (BGI), responsible for research supporting BGI’s active equity strategies, from 2008-09.  The actively managed equity portfolio had in excess of $100 billion in assets, and the research team was comprised of approximately 50 PhDs based in San Francisco, London, and Sydney.

Earlier, Kothari was Head of the Department of Economics, Finance, and Accounting at the MIT Sloan School of Management.  This department included approximately 75 professors and lecturers and an administrative staff.

Kothari’s highly cited research focuses on financial reporting and valuation, asset allocation, explaining the diversity in international accounting practices, use of employee stock options for compensating executives and accounting for stock options, evaluating investment performance, and corporate uses of derivatives for hedging and speculation.

The American Accounting Association honored his work with the 2014 Notable Contributions to Accounting Literature Award.  For the past 17 years, Kothari has served as an editor of the Journal of Accounting & Economics, a world-renowned academic research journal in accounting.  He is an expert on economic policy issues in India and has written numerous opinion-page editorials in The Economic Times.

Kothari has frequently served as a senior consultant with Charles River Associates, a business-economics and litigation-support consulting firm. He has consulted with many large corporations, including leading U.S. and international banks and asset management companies, Australian television broadcast corporations, U.S. steel companies, E&Y, KPMG, PriceWaterhouse Coopers, and the U.S. Department of Justice. Kothari served on the Board of VVisions from 1998-2004 and is currently on the Board of FIA Global.

Kothari received his BE (Hons.) from the Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani; his MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad; and his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa.  He has also received an honorary doctorate, Doctor Honoris Causa, from the University of Technology, Sydney, in May 2013, and a Distinguished Alumnus Award from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, in 2013.

Pattanaik is emeritus professor at the Department of Economics, University of California; a research associate for the Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative, and a fellow of the Human Development and Capability Association. He is reckoned to be a pioneer of the alternative methods of measuring social and cultural deprivation.

Pattanaik got his undergraduate degree in economics from Odisha, and then got his Masters and Ph.D. from the Delhi School of Economics.

Dr. Romesh Tekchand Wadhwani. Photo: Wadhwani Foundation.

Wadhwani is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Symphony Technology Group, which brings in $2.5 billion in annual revenues. Last year, Wadhwani ranked at number 261 in the Forbes list of 400 richest Americans and at number 667 in Forbes list of billionaires. In 2017, he had combined 9 of his AI-focused companies into a new entity called SymphonyAI.

Wadhwani, who moved from Karachi to India during India’s partition with his family at a young age, received a Bachelor’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, and master’s and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

Wadhwani was the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Aspect Development, Inc., from its startup in 1991 to its acquisition in 1999 by i2 Technologies for $9.3 billion in stock.

Wadhwani is also executive chairman of Symphony Teleca Corporation, MSC Software Inc, Symphony Health Solutions Inc and Shopzilla Inc, and is on the board of Information Resources Inc. Wadhwani is the largest limited partner in each of Symphony’s private equity funds, the third of which closed at $870 million, according to Wikipedia.

Together with his brother, Sunil Wadhwani, he has founded Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Mumbai to develop artificial intelligence solutions for public good. He is on the board of trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, both in Washington, D.C.

He established the Wadhwani Foundation for economic development in emerging economies, with an initial focus on India. Initiatives in India include the National Entrepreneurship Network, which has established programs to enable growth-centric entrepreneurship at over 500 universities and colleges; a skills college network to help train and place large numbers of young adults in vocational jobs; an opportunities network for the disabled; and a research initiative in biosciences and biotechnology to help create jobs through innovation.

The Foundation has launched a US-India policy initiative, with Rick Inderfurth, previously Assistant Secretary of State, as the Wadhwani Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a policy think tank in Washington D.C. and Hemant Singh, former Indian Ambassador to Japan, as the head of the Wadhwani program at ICRIER, a major policy institute in Delhi.

In 2012, he inaugurated a new research center at the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, named after his late mother, Shanta Wadhwani. He is married to Kathleen “Kathy” Wadhwani, and they live in Palo Alto, California. They have one daughter, Melina, who married Patrick Carey in 2011. Carey works as head of sales operations at Symphony Talent.

Prem Watsa. Photo: Reuters.

Other notable Padma recipients from North America this year include academic Robert Thurman, a professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University, and the co-founder and president of the Tibet House US, in New York, for literature and education; and Indo-Canadian billionaire businessman Prem Watsa for trade and industry.

Watsa is the founder, chairman, and chief executive of Fairfax Financial Holdings, based in Toronto, who’s been dubbed as the “Canadian Warren Buffett.”



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