Once upon a time the great king Vira Ballan II was walking in the forest. He met there an old woman who, having nothing to offer to the royal guest, shared the only food she had – boiled beans. The king was so touched by her hospitality, that he founded the city and named it the «city of boiled beans». In the 3rd and last part of our series about Unifr students meeting India: their visit of Bangalore.
It seems that since those days, hospitality is the distinctive feature of the people of the Karnataka state and its capital Bangalore. Charity and caring about others are not just modern trendy words, but real everyday efforts of many not indifferent people.
The first visit we made was to one of the biggest Indian not-for profit organization, the Azim Premji Foundation, which makes significant contributions to education in a manner consistent with social justice, equity, human values and sustainability. The Azim Premji Foundation engages with teachers, teacher educators and education officials at different levels in order to have a deep, large scale and institutionalized impact on the quality and equity of education in India. The Foundation today works in 8 states with more than 350.000 schools across the country. We also met Mr. Umesh Malhotra, a social entrepreneur that runs a highly successful pre-school program to promote reading, maths, and English among children in rural India. We had the chance to visit two of the «Hippocampus» pre schools and experienced as the children of 5 years were eagerly and in a playful manner learning English as second language and could, for instance, identify the difference between odd and even numbers.
The existence of the Azim Premji Foundation would not be possible without the support of the main business of the Premji family, Wipro, one of the biggest IT companies in the world. Mr. Sachin Jha shared the story of success of the company, its achievements and future growth opportunities with us, which is based on the remarkable talent pool of human resources. «People are the most valuable treasure, bringing success to the company» – that was the key learning.
The Silicon Valley of India
In general, Bangalore is an internationally recognized center of IT technologies and the Silicon Valley of India. Besides a huge number of large IT companies, it hosts an increasing number of successful start-ups, not only in IT, but also other industries. We visited Ather Energy, a future producer of eco-scooters, Jaaga – the oldest Indian community incubator for startups, and InnoAccel, a medtech incubator.
Several meetings hosted by Swissnex raised the entrepreneurship spirit in us, as we tried to create and develop our own business projects for India. We tried to touch every possible sphere of life, starting from sport to eco-recycling, transportation, and healthcare. And we understood that we still have to learn a lot to be successful in such a highly competitive environment. We would like to thank our Swiss hosts at Swissnex and all Indian experts who provided us with deep insights and inspiring feedback for our initiatives.
Overall, modern Bangalore is a symbol of the symbiosis of established tradition and modernity. This city has not lost its historical roots. A striking example is the ISKON temple of Krishna. This temple is a wonderful example of combining the traditions of old Dravidian architecture with glass panels in high-tech style in the heart of the city.
What are the most important insights that we gained from our visit to Bangalore? The warm hospitality and desire to share knowledge, demonstrated by Indian top-managers, as well as their dedication and passion to (sustainable) business and social responsibility, became valuable contributions to our study program. We have got new friends and met possible business partners; we got some first insights into the depth and diversity of Indian culture; we learnt the necessity to be open to new experiences in life. And we left India with a feeling that we want to come back.__________
- Unifr Students in India – previous week: The kingdom of the Wodeyar dynasty