Three others, S.P. Kothari, Prasanta Kumar Pattanaik, and Romesh Wadhwani, get Padma Shri.
As India celebrated its 71st Republic Day with the usual pomp and glory, the country also honored Indians abroad who have made exemplary contributions on a global scale and made the country of their birth proud.
This year’s list includes four Indian Americans topped by well-known marketing guru Jagdish Sheth, who gets Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian honor, for literature and education.
S.P. Kothari and Prasanta Kumar Pattanaik were honored with Padma Shri, the fourth highest award, in the same category. Romesh Tekchand Wadhwani got the Padma Shri for trade and industry.
Sheth’s book Theory of Buyer Behavior, which he co-authored with John Howard, who was his professor and mentor, is known as a “bible” in the field of consumer psychology and marketing.
“Cleary I am very humbled by the recognition and thankful to the nation and the Indian government,” Sheth, the Charles H. Kellstadt Professor of Business at Emory University Goizueta Business School, told the American Bazaar by phone on Sunday.
The Atlanta resident said there are “several reasons” he was happy. “It is a recognition for the Indian American academic community, as well,” he said. “While the academic community in the fields of science and technology is already recognized for their accomplishments, it is for the first time that the efforts of marketing and business discipline are recognized in India.”
Sheth was born in Myanmar, which was then known as Burma, in 1938. After Japan invaded Burma in 1940, all the minorities were forced to flee the country. His family was forced to leave Burma when he was barely 2-and-a-half years old. “I am a refugee from Burma, and I would have been a merchant,” he said. “But I am educator. This should be an inspiration for the youngsters. If I can do it, anybody can.”
The professor encouraged members of the diaspora to give back to India. “India invested in our education,” he said. “We as NRIs should repay our debt to the country.”
Prior to joining Emory, 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 has been on the faculty of Columbia University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has a PhD and an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh.
With a B. Com degree from Madras University, Sheth is a fellow at American Psychological Association and a former president at Association for Consumer Research.
Sheth is married to Madhu Sheth and the couple lives in Atlanta.
Padma Shri award recipient S.P. Kothari is the Gordon Y Billard Professor of Accounting and Finance at the Sloan School of Management.
He also served as global head of equity research for Barclays Global Investors. Earlier, Kothari was Head of the Department of Economics, Finance, and Accounting at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Kothari received his BE (Hons) from the Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani and MBA from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. He also received a PhD from the University of Iowa.
Prasanta Kumar Pattanaik, emeritus professor at the Department of Economics, University of California, is a pioneer of the alternative methods of measuring social and cultural deprivation.
Along with Amartya Sen and Kenneth Arrow, Pattanaik is also an advisory editor for Social Choice and Welfare.
Pattanaik got his degree in economics from Odisha, India, where he hails from. He then went on to study for his master’s and doctorate, both in economics, at Delhi School of Economics in Delhi.
Romesh Wadhwani is the founder and CEO of Symphony Technology Group. A bachelor from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Wadhwani came to the US from Karachi at the time of India’s partition. He then did his masters at Carnegie Mellon University.
The Padma Shri was also awarded to American Buddhist author and academic Robert Thurman for literature and education besides Indo-Canadian businessman Prem Watsa for trade and industry.
Thurman, Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University, is the co-founder and president of the Tibet House US, New York. He translated the Vimalakirti Sutra from the Tibetan Kanjur into English.
An IIT Madras alumnus, Hyderabad born Prem Watsa is an Indo-Canadian billionaire businessman. Founder, chairman, and chief executive of Fairfax Financial Holdings, based in Toronto, he has been called the “Canadian Warren Buffett.”