[Note: Anne Blouin, chief learning officer for CenterU, is joining us at Acronym to blog about her experiences on ASAE & The Centerâ€™s Study Mission to India. Weâ€™re sure youâ€™ll find her posts to be informative!â€”Lisa Junker]
Our Study Mission to India is off to a great start. Despite the weather problems on the East Coast on Friday, the majority of participants had no problems with flight delays. Only a few were unable to make their connections because of the weather and ultimately will arrive either tonight or tomorrow night.
After a very long flight from the U.S. to Mumbai (Bombay), we were met at the airport and taken to an oasis of paradise in this city of 18 million people, the JW Marriott Hotel. The hotel is in a beautiful setting on Juhu Beach. Staying at this hotel does not really give you a good sense of what Mumbai is like, so a group of us took taxis to the central area of Mumbai last night for dinner. Well, we got a much better sense of the congestion and the poverty that exists.
First of all, it took over an hour and a half to get to our destination. With lots of tuk tuks (three-wheeled cars), taxis, motorcycles carrying entire families, and horns honking, we got a good feel of the congestion. When the new Nano car rolls out, I canâ€™t imagine what that will do to traffic. I donâ€™t think we should complain anymore about the traffic in DC! It could take a few hours to go from one end of the city to the other because of the traffic. Mumbai does have a train system and more than 7 million people take the train each dayâ€”no more complaining about the crowds on our Metro system either!
Today, we kicked the content for the Study Mission off with a brief look at the history of India, followed by presentations on the economy and insights into the entertainment industry.
All of the speakers today alluded to the fact that India is a country rich in diversity and contradictions. It is a country of billionaires and beggars, with 30 percent of the population impacted by globalization and enjoying 70 percent of the GDP. However, 20 percent of the population live on less than $1 a day.
Some interesting points from todayâ€™s sessions:
- It wasnâ€™t until the 1980s when India embraced a free economy, at least 10 years after China, Singapore, and Thailand. In the 1980s, the IT sector began to grow. Then, in the 1990s, emphasis was placed on R&D, especially in terms of technology development.
- Early in this century, India became a global player in exporting technology and acquiring companies, which instilled a sense of confidence in its people. The countryâ€™s GDP is expected to grow at a rate of 9 percent this year.
- Major challenges include the infrastructureâ€”built infrastructure as well as social infrastructure (health and education).