Summer Immersion Updates from India


Summer Immersion is officially over and the Class of 2017 is back in Philadelphia, where they have started Wharton’s Pre-Term. However, we’ll continue to look back on their summer immersion experiences, starting with this blog entry from Akshay Mandan (Lauder Class of 2017, Hindi Track).

July 14 – Continuing from where we left off, it has been a crazy three weeks – the first week in Mumbai, the next in Kochi and the third in Delhi. We have had first-hand experience of a wide range of well-known Indian diversity throughout these three weeks.

Earlier, we started had explored places such as the Jama Masjid and the old Delhi markets, a rich exhibition of the country’s rich and ancient history, bland of multiple cultures and ways of living. In the next phase, we landed in Mumbai, India’s one of the most fast-paced city. Here one of our first meetings was with a prominent transgender rights activist, who was also the first transgender person to represent the Asia Pacific region at the UN. It was indeed a fascinating conversation, as we learned first-hand about this community. We came to know that though the community has a history of more than 4,000 years, it has been recognized under a separate “third” gender category only a few months back. The community strongly feels that this ruling would redefine their rights and the state’s obligation to them as a minority.

Lauder Hindi Class of 2016 in Mumbai with DabbawalaOur next visits and meetings in Mumbai were with global investment banks, private equity firms and law firms. One interesting visit was with one of India’s largest diamond-manufacturing firms, which was founded by someone who had studied only until 10th grade. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that 70% of their diamond sales were online-based, i.e. blind sales! The backbone of such results lies in developing trust with each client. This trust can be attributed to heavy investment in advanced technology and a focus on understanding the context from where each client comes from. With increasing globalization, this point of contextualization with regional differences becoming all the more relevant was mentioned in multiple company meetings, including one with the founder of one of India’s most successful internet companies that we visited last week.

From Mumbai we travelled to Kochi, where we experienced something that would remain with us forever. One of our meetings was with a music director, who had also organized for us a Christian family prayer along with his close friends and associates. During the prayer, all of a sudden we simultaneously heard the Azan (Islamic call to worship) from a nearby mosque. Throughout our time in India, we have learnt that the diversity in religious elements was perennial in this country, and this experience anchored us more firmly in India’s culture and tradition.

We feel that we rediscover India each time, marveling at the extremely diverse mix of cultures, languages, and professions, along with the elements of modern and traditional India existing amicably side by side. We will continue to look back fondly on our experiences and everything that we have learnt from them.

By Akshay Mandan (WG/Lauder’16, Hindi Track)