At last, the day we had longed for had arrived; February 27, 2013 was
the kick-off to our incredible journey to India! The excitement filled
Newark International Airport as the group met with anticipation for our
15 1/2 hours of air travel on Virgin Atlantic to London with
connections to Mumbai.
As first time travelers to India (except Dr. Amar), the group had
various expectations for "Doing Business in India!" The group comprised
of diverse SHU students with four graduate students; three with
coursework in Master of Business Administration (MBA) and one with
coursework in Master of Strategic Communication (MSC), and three
undergraduate students; one with coursework in Diplomacy and two with
coursework in Business.
Our first stop was Mumbai, overlooking the beautiful Arabian Sea from
Hotel Trident Nariman Point on Marine Drive, where we arrived from the
airport. The next morning, March 1, 2013, we departed for a lecture at
the University of Mumbai. There, we were greeted and had a session on
Indian education system with Dr. Shubhada A. Joshi, Professor and Head
of the Department of Philosophy, and Dr. Kamini Gogri of Indian
Aesthetics Communal Harmony and Social Peace. Later we attended a class
by Dr. Meenal that was already in session to learn about the management
concepts of an ancient (4th Century BCE) Indian strategist named
Chanakya; to fight the invasion of India by Alexander the Great. To our
surprise, later, Dr. Gogri extended to us a warm invitation to visit
her home. We accepted it as this was a great opportunity to experience
an Indian home in Mumbai. Upon arrival at her home, the group was
introduced to her family where they had freshly prepared delicious
traditional Indian desserts. The hospitality was lively and cheerful
like the country itself.
Next, we went to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) where we met with
Mr. Ambarish Datta, Managing Director and CEO of BSE Institute, and
attended a session led by BSE Institute Faculty member, Mr. Rakesh Nair,
to learn about the Indian economy and capital markets. The session
became especially noteworthy as we joined the Finance students of St.
Xavier's University. Our very own, Dr. Amar addressed the attendees on
the outlook of Indian and American economies. Thus, a very special
gratitude goes to Mr. Aranha Roy for making this opportunity possible
every year for the last five years of Doing Business in India to learn
about the Indian markets and economy for the knowledge of the future
American businesspersons. Later, our taste buds were delighted with
some of India’s finest cuisine; bursting with flavor, aroma and spices
at the restaurants Indian Summer and Ali Baba in downtown Mumbai.
Early morning on March 2, 2013, we departed for PharmaLab to be
introduced to Indian pharmaceutical industry by its Marketing Director,
Mr. Unni. India is currently the world’s largest generic drug
manufacturer; however, within the current decade, it is slated to be the
largest producer of all kinds of drugs in the world. The visit to
PharmaLab was organized by Jay Shah, Business Developer Manager, a
Stillman alumnus and former student of Dr. Amar.
Later, that afternoon, the group was joined by a professional guide
who took us on an enjoyable hour-and-half boat ride to an island across
Mumbai harbor into the Arabian Sea for a guided visit to a network of
sculpted caves which the Portuguese called the Elephanta Caves, a group
of 7th Century Hindu and Buddhist caves housing Shiva temples. The
labyrinth of ancient caves and temples cut into the basalt rock is
designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. We climbed 247 steps to get to
the caves and learned how ancient Indians engaged in spiritualism and
worship through asceticism.
On our return to Mumbai, we enjoyed the breathtaking ceremonial arch,
the Gateway of India, constructed to celebrate the visit in 1911 of
King George V and Queen Mary of England. The Gateway of India combines
elements of European, Hindu, and Muslim architectures. Through this, our
guide connected us to the period of British Raj in India.
Immersed in the atmosphere and natural beauty of India, on March 3,
2013, the group packed and headed to the airport where we flew
domestically to Kochi on Indigo Airlines to enjoy one night at Zuri,
Kumarakom, Kerala Resort & Spa and a night in a houseboat on the
backwaters of Kerala—a world-renowned water adventure destination. On
our first morning there, the group enjoyed an early rise to the nearby
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary to watch a variety of local and migratory
birds. Thereafter, the group enjoyed a private yoga session led by our
very own, Dr. Amar.
The next day, March 4, 2013, we explored a walk through the nature
for "One Night Only!" on a houseboat stretch through the backwaters that
offered a great picture of the land, with many islands scattered here
and there with lush greenery along the banks. We had a Kerala State
Tourism Development village-tour in country boats riding through Kerala
Backwaters to learn about the communities living in water. The water
hyacinth floats on the lake’s surface with slender coconut palms sway
along the water's edge. There were country craft houseboats, canoes and
the serene canals that welcomed other tourists; we enjoyed the ambience
of cultural change and got a peak into the Indian society.
Joy came in the morning; on March 5, 2013, we headed to the airport
for our domestic flight to New Delhi. On our way to the airport, we
received an introduction to the varied religious practices of India by
an expert guide who took us to an early sixteenth century church, St.
Francis Church, built by the Portuguese; and a synagogue—one of the
oldest outside the Middle East, as the Jews arrived in India during the
second-to-first century BCE after the destruction of the Second Temple
of Jerusalem. The guide gave us a tour of the spice markets and the
history of European invasions of India where they came under the pretext
of spice trade.
On the evening of March 5, 2013, we arrived in New Delhi, India's
capital, and went to our hotel, The Grand New Delhi, in the heart of the
city. After having a sumptuous dinner at their restaurant, we went to
retire for the night.
On March 6, 2013, after breakfast at the hotel, we went to visit the
Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) Corporate Office; an integrated
power plant equipment manufacturer and one of the largest engineering
and manufacturing companies in India where we were greeted by Dr. Balvir
Talwar, General Manager of Corporate Planning & Development. We
attended a session on strategic management in a changing global economy
with the senior management of the company. It is here that we received a
tote bag full of goodies along with outstanding hospitality of Indian
After lunch, we headed to the Jaypee Institute of Information
Technology for our session with the students and faculty of the Jaypee
Business School. Here we learned about the Indian economy and the
projections of its growth from Professor Agarwal and attended an
interactive session with the students. Again, the hospitality was
unique with service.
After our class at Jaypee Business School, we were filled with
extraordinary adventure as we boarded the bus for Agra to visit the
legendary Taj Mahal, a wonder of the world that dates back to the 17th
century. We spent the night at Wyndham Grand Agra resort.
On the early morning of March 7, 2013, we entered the compounds of
Taj Mahal for its sunrise view and a lesson on the Muslim period in
India from an expert we especially hired for the purpose. The Taj Mahal
is rich in history and culture. The story shared is of an exceptional
building that is beautiful as a palace. Although, heartbroken at the
death of his second wife, Mumtaz Mahal, the renowned leader, Shah Jahan,
decided to build the Taj Mahal as a monument to his lost love. The
project took 22 years to complete and included more than 20,000 artisans
from all over India and Persia. The icon is designated as a UNESCO
World Heritage Site. It is renowned for its exquisite marble screens, a
type of marble inlay works made with thousands of semiprecious stones.
Later that day, we arrived back in Delhi for an introduction to
India's government. We visited various buildings, including the
Parliament House, where Indian government is housed. Although our view
was limited, we visited the gate of the India's presidential palace
named "Rashtrapati Bhavan," the equivalent of the White House, where we
also saw the passing of the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Man Mohan
On the morning of March 8, 2013, we were thrilled to the tumult of
Delhi, we visited the Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi,
where we attended a session with the faculty and research scholars of
Delhi University led by a lecture and question-answer session with Dr.
J. P. Sharma, Professor of Law and Corporate Governance and Dean of
Delhi School of Economics, which was followed by our very own, Dr. Amar.
We enjoyed the session and interaction with students. Afterwards, we
went to the US Embassy to be introduced to American business in India.
We had a very brief overview of the US Embassy by Nafeesah Allen, a
Federal Agent. We learned that Delhi embassy houses the largest US
peacetime operation in the world.
Lastly, we enjoyed an afternoon for souvenir shopping and then it was
off to pack for our last day in India, March 9, 2013. All in all, a
very sad day as the group was not prepared to say our goodbyes to such
an extraordinary tour escort, Rohit! Similarly, several entities had an
impact in making this trip such an experience and we thank them all:
MakeMyTrip.com that operated our schedule in India for whom the highest
priority was to make sure that our India trip came out as it did, and of
course, we thank the Stillman School of Business for organizing the
trip and offering the course; Doing Business in India. Their collective
effort made this journey a remarkable experience.
In conclusion, our takeaway is that embrace comes in many forms;
values have become relative and rights more important than duties and
the goal of serving the common good is often lost. This was an
incredible journey that was sensitive at times; a nuanced depiction
which neither glorifies the good nor mocks the bad. In fact, India has
allowed us to see a reflection of SELF! Indian culture is very diverse
and rich. Our journey was remarkable, an awe-inspiring adventure.
Seeing is believing… we had the most incredible walk through nature; it
weaved an honest view of life in India, yet it was an incredible
cultural, educational and business savvy journey had by all!
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