Five Things I have Learnt From India

Most people have a preconceived of what India is like, how it is, where people live, what they do – who they are. We think we know India. But indeed, many of us are only obscurely aware of some constructed image of India through our western academic education, mass media, and production.

Some of the assumptions about India may apply to some parts of India – but in no way, shape or form are they relevant to India in its entirety, nor do they give justice because they are often crude and can be dramatically oversimplified.

1. How India’s Diversity Gives it Strength

During the program we were offered a first-hand experience of India’s diversity; from visiting Dharavi slums to the home of James Ferreira, one of India’s leading fashion designers, nestled within a small heritage home, to the bustling corporate offices of leading Indian businesses’ and innovative start-ups; namely Infosys and Zomato.

Where the diversity all visibly came together for me was undoubtedly in a visit to Jaipur Foot. We sat in the small, crowded, dimmed waiting room. We were continually looking to Team IndoGenius for reassurance as people waiting to receive prosthetic limbs were shifting around to make us feel welcome and comfortable. As I looked around the room, walls lined with images of the gods and goddesses of all religions, I noticed the composition of people within it. I not only viewed the unification of diversity in action inside this room but also breathed the true essence of an inclusive and uplifting India for the first time.

India’s unity in diversity is evident in recent statistics which overwhelmingly demonstrate that most people identify themselves as ‘Indian’ before they identify with a specific region. The ability to form one nation despite differences is indicative of an incredibly unique and admirable feat of the country.

2. A Growing Technical Talent

Technology has given the people of India access to a world of information and a method of having their voices heard; Chandler summarises this:

Chandler

Globalisation has raised the expectations that this new urban class has for itself and its Government, the opening of the Indian economy has exposed them to a new world – a world in which other countries like India are growing fast, building modern infrastructure, and establishing efficient Government. Whereas they used to assume that to get rich one needed political connections, today they dare simply to have a good ideas and work hard… Technology is giving them the power to make their voices heard, even when outnumbered by other interest groups

Another moment I treasured was experiencing the dedication of a rising generation of creative thinkers and changemakers at Manipal University. We heard from the founders of various student start-ups bridging socioeconomic gaps in an utterly innovative manner.

3. Unbound Opportunity in India

The rising aspirations and ambition of this new generation of Indians are quickly replacing outdated perceptions of both what foreign countries presume India to be. The Indian middle class now numbers more than 25 million; over 30 percent of the population lives in urban areas. ‘These numbers are growing, fast’, says Chandler, ‘Indian movies are now often focused on this group, seen as young, aspiring, and filled with idealism and ambition.’

Regarding social aspirations Chandler discussed that India today has a new dream, born from diversity and empowered by its economic and technological advancement; ‘It is the dream of self-invention: of having the freedom and means of authoring yourself into being.’

4. India Offers a Deeply Human Connection

Above both the opportunities for academic exploration and professional fulfillment and success, India offers a chance to be part of an unprecedented movement of the hopes of an aspiring nation, and a genuinely unified pan-Indian conscious tangibly bought to life, realized and active in the lives of every Indian.

Chandler
The world has a stake in India’s success – and not just because of the need for someone to pick up the slack from a slowing China. Much of the developing world faces the same challenges India does. The solutions developed here – the answers to almost metaphysical questions about how societies should work and grow – will have worldwide relevance

5. My Decisions Will Be Influenced By The Experiences I Had On This Program.

The program began to bear fruit in my life, my mind and my heart before I had even set foot in India. As part of the program assessment, I completed an online course before arriving in India – something I am so glad I did. It enabled me to walk into the program intentionally; instead of surface level questions, I became filled with compelling curiosity.

I had so many personal and academic questions – for the first time in my entire schooling life I began to see the two become one. How horrid is that? Seventeen years of first-class education had failed to do what 6 hours of lectures could do instantly. This program created a passion and a thirst for learning; not for success; not for a grade; not for achievement. It created a desire, to become more aware of the world around me, of myself and life; to see personal prosperity and prosperity of others; for a deeper understanding of who I am in this world; of how to identify myself and feel truly satisfied in life. I will be unpacking the experiences and impact of this program for years to come, and perhaps my entire life. I’m sure all the choices I make going forward the experiences I had as a part of this program will continue to influence me.