A Fordham alumna will be working at a medical camp in India this summer thanks to an essay competition sponsored by New York Life.
Rucha Desai, FCLC ’10, is one of eight winners of “Bharat Yatra VIII – a Journey to India,” an essay competition sponsored by the New York Life Insurance Company. Desai was one of thousands of entrants from across the country, ages ranging from 18 to 24, who were asked to submit a 500-word essay on the topic, “What role can I play to eradicate hunger in India.”
In her essay, Desai proposed an initiative to sustain local art and occupations, starting small in her hometown of Ahmedabad, India, and then expanding across the country.
“The project would be simple: purchase mass quantities of handicrafts from local marketplaces and then sell these goods to the international market. However, unlike products exported abroad and made in India solely for the purpose of cheap operational costs, all profits from this venture would sponsor long-term hunger relief for the same villagers,” Desai said. “Since I would start at the grassroots level, I would begin my undertaking in Law Garden, in Ahmedabad, a marketplace that houses all types of home goods, clothing and accessories. I would make purchases every two months, consuming mass amounts of every type of good sold, in order to gain a variety of sellable commodities. The local population would thus receive immediate hunger relief from purchases.”
Desai’s plan doesn’t end there. After acquiring a substantial and varied collection of handicrafts, she would resell these goods to countries all over the world through an online market, like eBay.
“I would be able to reinsert this money into the local economy, by investing in a well or free lunch program,” she said. “As this program gains ground, it would be possible to expand it to integrate villages and towns all across India.”
Desai said her Fordham education came in handy when writing the essay.
“’World Poverty’ class, with Dr. [Associate Professor of Economics] Janis Barry, was a major source of inspiration, as well as my ‘International Economics’ course with Dr. [Assistant Professor Economics] Clive Daniel,” she said. “Each course helped to enlighten the nuances of local economies, as well as informing me further about international trade and its vast implications.”
The New York Life Insurance Company cosponsored the contest with Tathaastu magazine, in an effort to serve the Asian-Indian community in the United States. Finalists will visit Rajasthan, India, and gain hands-on experience in working closely with the local community by working at a medical camp.
“I feel blessed to have experiences from another country, culture and flavor of the world,” said Desai, who often traveled to India as a little girl. “I have been lucky enough to start traveling at such a young age, and I am even luckier that I have family and friends all over the world who make me feel welcome all the way across the ocean.”
Desai, who earned her Bachelor’s degree in International Studies in just three year from Fordham, is currently serving as Constituent Liaison for Social Service at Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) New York City office.