Cultural Ambassador of Prosperity: Dr. Pushpa Bhardwaj-Wood’s Inspirational Journey

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu

Dr. Pushpa Bhardwaj-Wood, ONZM, Director of the NZ Centre for Financial Education and Research at Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand, embodies a unique blend of cultural heritage and professional expertise. With a journey spanning over four decades, she has not only contributed significantly to financial literacy but also played a pivotal role in preserving and sharing her Indian heritage in a foreign land.

  1. Tell us in brief about yourself and your journey since when you have been in the present country?

Since 1980, I’ve lived in Wellington, New Zealand, witnessing changes in both countries. Despite marrying a part Māori, part European husband, we’ve cherished our Hindu and Catholic heritages, raising our daughter with exposure to various faiths. Actively involved in cultural initiatives, I’ve helped thrive Haryana culture in Wellington, despite its initial scarcity. Apart from my profession, I have also been actively involved in various community, cultural and religious initiatives. That has been my way of keeping my tradition – cultural, social and religious, alive and share with others.

  • How long you have been actively engaged in this profession and what has been your experience?

Since arriving, I’ve been deeply engaged in higher and community education, pioneering Hindi and Indian cooking classes. I also spearheaded Hindi translation efforts when computer fonts were scarce. My expertise lies in financial literacy and wellbeing, recognized nationally. I’ve presented and published extensively, particularly advocating for women’s financial empowerment and equality.

  • Where do you think India stands globally in this particular sector with a with other leading Nations?

Indian financial literacy has improved significantly in the past two decades, yet recent trends show a rise in younger generations relying heavily on credit cards and loans instead of saving. This trend could lead to escalating debt levels, counterproductive for growth. India must capitalize on its renowned intellect and work ethic to ensure domestic prosperity before other nations benefit from it.

  •  What do you think India should do in order to improve the situation and be at par with the leading countries?

India is progressing well but must enhance teacher training and school education quality. It should also focus on nurturing talent and encouraging skilled individuals abroad to contribute regularly. The goal is to establish India as an education hub for South-East Asia and beyond, leveraging its potential to excel in this domain.

  • Given a chance would you like to be a part of such initiative to address the above for the betterment of the Indian diaspora as a professional?

I would love to give back to my mother land. At times I do wonder that I am making so much contribution outside India but don’t seem to have much opportunity to do the same for my motherland. I would love to contribute to education and workforce development area especially education of disadvantaged children and youth.

  • How do you think you can add value to India in general or in particular?

The general contribution I have already been making by acting as cultural envoy in my day-to-day life but in particular, people like me have a double advantage – we can easily navigate between ‘two worlds’, move between two different work environments and culture not to mention links to the education, business and professional worlds.

  • Do you want our readers to connect with you for professional help if yes how and where?

If I can be of any help, sure but not for people simply wanting to come to New Zealand and expecting me to help them find a way for them!! I am very particular about my reputation and integrity and have worked very hard to establish myself in my profession and guard it very closely.

  • Your favourite Indian destination?

Vaishno devi followed by Udaipur.

  •  Your favourite Indian cuisine?

Simple, home cooked food. My favourite is पकौड़े वाली कढ़ी और चावल (pakode wali Kadhi-chawal)

  1.  Your favourite restaurant in New Zealand?

Great India in Wellington.

  1.  The thing you missed the most about India.

People, smells and sounds of India.

  1.  One word that comes to your mind when you hear the word India.

My motherland

  1. How you kept India alive in your family?

As I am the only one from my side of the family living in NZ, my regular visits (almost annually) have been one of the ways. Also I surround myself with all things Indian, through food and festival celebrations.

  1.  Which Indian festival do you miss the most and why?

Actually I miss all the festival s we used to celebrate back home in India, but Diwali and Navaratri I miss the most.

  1. Any unfulfilled wish for India?

I wish we could wipe out corruption and nepotism from India! If we can only find the way to let the youth prosper and their leadership and talent is nurtured, there is no nation in the world that can beat us!!

  1.  What is your message for the fellow countrymen

Do respect and honour your motherland, your nation before you think about your region, your religion and your caste. अगर देश है तो जहान है।

Dr. Pushpa Bhardwaj-Wood’s journey stands as a testament to the power of passion, dedication, and cultural pride. Her unwavering commitment to financial literacy and cultural preservation has not only enriched her adopted home of New Zealand but has also inspired countless individuals around the world. As a cultural ambassador of prosperity, she continues to bridge divides, ignite change, and pave the way for a brighter future.

Dr. Bhardwaj-Wood’s remarkable achievements serve as a beacon of hope and possibility for all those who dare to dream and strive for excellence.

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