What can you expect, as a born and raised occidental about to travel to the other side of the world? You might understandably, feel a bit apprehensive. Especially when travelling to a place like India, renowned to be unlike anywhere else in the world. A country with the most wonderful landscapes, but also the biggest and most frenzied cities. In any case, it is bound to be a unique experience.
Joyce’s professional experience
Joyce, a Mexican native, had the chance to visit Mysore, a city in Southern India. Working and studying there for 3 weeks, she conducted an international exchange in Communication and Corporate Social Responsibility. She stayed at the Shri Dhormostholo Monjunotheshworo Institute for Management Development, with a group of Indian, Spanish and Latin American students to work on a project on micro-finance.
This charitable remainder trust, promoted by Dr. D. Veerendra Heggade in collaboration with SKDRDP (Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala Rural Development Project), focused on the empowerment of people by organizing Self Help Groups (SHG) on the lines of Joint Responsibility Groups (JRG) and provided microcredit infrastructure and finance for the rural population, accounting for 70% of the population.
SKDRDP works with a variety of programs classified in Agriculture Programs, Social Security, Microfinance, Addiction Rehabilitation, Women’s Empowerment Incentives, among others.
During 2 weeks, Joyce visited different small and large companies from different sectors. She attended meetings with HR managers and CEOs. There, they shared their knowledge and practices in Communication and Corporate Social Responsibility. For example, Joyce learned that the HR department of a company producing car lubricants ensured that all partners knew the 5S and Lean Manufacturing procedures, in order to put employee safety first.
She visited some rural communities to meet women self-help groups and support them with empowerment initiatives. For example, she prepared a five-year development plan to provide opportunities for housewives and unemployed young women in rural areas.
The SKDRDP does not only provide financial support to women but also empowers them. With loans, they are equipped with skills to do something for their future and to improve their standard of living. It also gives them the responsibility to make their own decisions and control their destiny. For example, some do the cooking, some take computer classes, some form part of mutual financial support groups…
Joyce’s trip was far more than just an international exchange. She was able to discover the thousand different faces of India, its culture, traditions and the many contrasts within the country.
India, Country of Multiple Contrasts
Mysore is a city in the state of Karnataka, one of India’s most industrialized states. Bangalore, its capital, has become one of the major hubs of the information technology industry. However, Karnataka’s rich culture and traditions remain, as though the new urban and modern state has always lived alongside the classical and historical one.
As she discovered life in Mysore, she noticed that the Indian culture stood out in every situation. At work, for example, there was a designated compulsory time for tea mid-morning, for relaxation and reflexion. On company grounds, there was a garden for meditation and yoga. Employees wore traditional Indian clothing, Indian food was served at every meal and upon entering a building, shoes were taken off.
The physically industrialized place contrasted with the ever present traditions. The technological hub contrasted with the rural and classical aspect of houses and temples; and the chaos of the street contrasted with the peacefulness of being inside. Everything on the outside seems to be influenced by western culture, while everything inside is deeply Indian.
Joyce’s brief stay in India was, according to her, an incomparable experience. Not only has it taught her professionally, working and visiting companies; it also taught her about the invaluable richness of the country’s culture, traditions, people, places and much more.