Newsletter January 7, 2012: Indian Chronicle

There were hundreds of monkeys on and alongside the roads as we drove to the BV Raju Institute of Technology ( where I gave my workshop yesterday morning.  Both on the way there and on the return trip to Hyderabad, we also passed oxen pulling wooden carts, rolling along on those tall wheels you see in old fashioned Westerns …  piled sky high with bales of freshly picked cotton. In our comfortable, air-conditioned TATA, we passed wagons weighed down with sugar cane or with timber, both harnassed to tractors home-made between 40 and 50 years ago. Once in a while, we saw a red John Deere or a New Holland.

After a week here, I’ve gotten used to the goats, cows, buffalos, dogs, boars, the odd wild cat, the occasional poney, donkey, or camel – wandering where they will – in this province called Telangana by its natives and which is officially part of the state of Andhra Pradesh.

The BV Raju Institute of Technology is a private school. To a certain extent, it resembles a small American university campus. Not only does it have significant material assets and admirable grounds, administrative buildings and classrooms, all clean and very well kept, it has tennis courts, a golf course, a boating area, both indoor and outdoor amphitheatres, a research center located in the midst of mango groves and … a partnership with the Massachussets Institute of Technology, more commonly known as MIT.

Incidentally, the BVRIT is now offering language classes in French, German and Spanish. It is part of a group which, all told, boasts 6000 enrollments.

The students and faculty at BVRIT are proud to be there. This college was intentionally created in a rural, relatively impoverished area. The founder felt that education had to reach out to where the people were rather than the other way around. Ironically, one of the students I met makes the 2-hour trip by bus – each way – every day from the nearest big city. Dhrupad is studying chemical engineering and wants to pursue his studies with an MBA from a school  in Europe or in the USA. Socially active and aware, he has already created an NGO devoted to improving the environment and cleaning up the country. (For more info, contact me!)

He is the son of a local businessman who, from a very modest but cultured background, now operates a pharmaceutical lab employing more than 400 people. The brand-name antibiotics they produce are used throughout the country.

Demographic studies say that by 2020, 80% of the Indian population will be 30 or younger. I felt that today I met a sampling of those who will be leading India into a healthier, more prosperous future.

They were eager – so eager and attentive that we could have gone on longer than we did. Smart kids. My workshop was totally optional … but 200 young university students came and participated; they realize that there’s a lot at stake, not a minute to waste and that … they’re so lucky to be where they are.

I’d say we’ve got a lot to learn from them, too.

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