J-Term Trip to India Transcends Borders

My experience in India was phenomenal. When I first arrived, fog was the first thing that welcomed me. It invited me to what appeared to be a world of confusion, disorder, and anxiety. Since my sight was limited, I had to rely on my other senses to understand my new context. And strangely enough, it felt like déjà vu. This new environment resembled my time in other developing countries.

There are many similarities between India and other developing countries. These countries are eager to improve economic opportunities and drive global economic growth. India is a country with a lot of promise. There is a sense of optimism and ambition that things are getting better every day.

While there, we learned from General Mills about how there is movement from the Base of the Pyramid market to the middle class market. I learned how local companies are executing green marketing initiatives to use environmental resources in a responsible manner.

Fewer companies are looking to India to send work to outside providers to achieve cost savings. Now, they invest in India to leverage knowledge and expertise in particular business sectors. India has the infrastructure and the labor to build and scale a business very quickly. A Mumbai tour guide pointed out that the British colonization built physical infrastructure and taught the Indians a language that later became useful for economic and social development.

The trip was also comforting. I traveled thousands of miles to visit a foreign country that is not as foreign as I thought. Throughout the trip, as the fog (literally and figuratively) lifted, this foreign place became familiar to me and confirmed my sense of déjà vu. India is optimistic about its future—and it should be. It is filled with beautiful historic buildings like the Taj Mahal, great cuisine, and a rich culture that transcends borders.

There is a lot of untapped potential in India that can lead to unparalleled growth and improved health conditions if done responsibly. There are still a number of challenges to overcome like how to reduce HIV transmission and the prevalence of diabetes. Nevertheless, India’s history of British colonization has positioned it well to become a global leader in the 21st century.

I look forward to following India’s trajectory in the coming years to see how they evolve and, more importantly, how the world responds. I would love to visit India again because the country has a lot to teach the rest of the world if we are willing to listen, observe, and appreciate the beauty in its “managed chaos.”

Pleasant Radford, Jr. is a student in the Full-time UST MBA program and participated in a J-Term Study Abroad trip to New Delhi & Mumbai, India.