Mahatma Gandhi once said, “A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.” On March 3, 2010, eight Stillman students who had enrolled in Seton Hall University's Doing Business in India course left for India with Management professor Dr. A. D. Amar to experience the culture of India and to assess its business environment. The program, now marking its 2nd annual trip, immersed students in both Indian business and culture. The trip took students to four of the country's major cities, Mumbai, Goa, Agra and Delhi, all within the span of 9 days. The trip included corporate visits, university conference, sightseeing, retail business experience, 5-star cuisines featuring the traditional Indian fare, and above all, an opportunity to discover one of the richest cultures of the world.
Despite the initial jetlag, we arrived energized at our first destination, Mumbai. Slated as India's Manhattan, Mumbai is a bustling city, acting as the country's financial hub as well as a backdrop for the popular Bollywood film industry. We made our first stop at Tata-AIG for a meeting with AIG Country Head and Chief Executive Mr. Sunil Mehta. Here, we learned about the history and structure of the Tata brand, a conglomerate involved in many industries, such as automobiles, steel, retail, construction, cable television, tea and so much more. Toward the end of our meeting, we were given the opportunity to discuss with Tata management the current events, such as the Indian economics, Chinese position in the world business, and American politics.
Our second business stop in Mumbai was a visit and tour of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), Asia's first stock exchange. The BSE is the 5th most active exchange in the world, and unlike the NYSE, the BSE features an all electronic market for trading. At BSE, we were introduced to major Asian capital markets, India, China and Japan, by Mr. James E. Shapiro and Mr. Shashank Chaturvedi. They gave us all the time to engage in interaction with them about these and other capital markets around the world, including NYSE.
With two major company visits completed in India, the pace of the trip was set for the coming week. For some R&R that weekend, we made our way to the province of Goa, known for its pristine beaches and historical Catholic basilicas. Formerly a Portuguese colony, Goa gained its independence in 1961 and Indian statehood in 1987. Upon visiting the state, we were able to see the great lengths of colonialism and the Western world. Signs and billboards were in both English and Portuguese, while Catholic churches were decorated throughout the streets. Here, we witnessed both the cultural and religious diversity of India, a nation with a variety of cultural influences and a freedom of spirituality.
We left the sandy beaches of Goa en route to our next destination, the historical city of Agra. The city was full of rich tradition and history, as home to the world famous Taj Mahal. A world heritage monument, the Taj Mahal was built as a mausoleum by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died at the age of 39 after the birth of their 14th child. The queen's final request was a monument to showcase his love for her, a monument that would soon become one of the world's most beautiful wonders of the ancient world. The view, from the carvings in the walls to the marble fountains, lines up everything in almost perfect symmetry. This harmonious setting truly personifies India's true beauty and rich history.
Our last and final days were spent in the country's capital, New Delhi --home to the embassies, government offices, and some of India's bustling markets. Our visit to the capital proved to be the most diverse experience of the trip. Amongst all of our destinations in Delhi, the first one was a visit to the headquarters of MakeMyTrip.Com, an internet travel firm similar to Expedia in the USA, situated in Gurgaon, a suburb of Delhi that acts as a corporate destination for foreign firms doing business in India. We toured their facilities learning the essentials of outsourcing and the Six Sigma push. Our next company visit was with Mr. Bhupesh Juneja, VP of Gujarat Fluorochemicals Limited, a member of the INOX chemical group, located in Noida, a town adjoining Delhi. Here, we learned of the rise of India's green energy and how it was developing a competitive advantage in this field in the global market.
Our last day in Delhi featured a joint conference at the University of Delhi, Maitreyi College. An all-women's college, Maitreyi College welcomed us with open arms, as we engaged in a cultural dialogue between Seton Hall and Delhi University that followed after plenary presentations by Dr. Amar and Dr. Shashi Tiwari of Delhi University, we learned and exchanged our views of our two cultures. After the conference, Delhi University faculty and doctoral students toured the campus with us showing us how they train their students in science and technology.
As we departed from Delhi that night, Jersey-bound, we were grateful to have had such a dynamic and insightful experience in India in general, and Delhi in particular. As business students, we were able to learn the essentials of brand management, finance, and outsourcing management, in addition to understanding India as a business destination, which gave us a better understanding of the business world for our post-graduation life.
We found that Gandhi's quote reigns true even today. Throughout our stay in India, we were given the chance to meet some of the country's most engaging and passionate people, the people who embrace their rich history and spirituality. From the hotels, tours, and corporate meetings, we were greeted with exceptional treatment and quality-driven service by the Indians everywhere we went. With the global economy opening, it is only a matter of time when India will rise to the occasion as a major player in the world. And, then, we would be able to say that we had seen it coming due to our experience of Doing Business in India.
*Nitish Verma, Doing Business in India Class of 2010, also contributed to this article. Dr. Amar edited the article.
For Further Information, contact Dr. A. D. Amar, professor, Stillman School of Business, firstname.lastname@example.org; (973) 761-9684.
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