By Clare Premo, ’16
The morning started with a meeting with the ruling political party, the BJP. We met with the party spokesman and learned more about the political direction that Modi and the party are taking the group. It was interesting to glean the adoration that group has for Modi, and to learn about the initiatives to get 60 million poor people signed up for bank accounts to help cut out corruption and to bring them into the formal economy, as well as the “Make in India” campaign which attempts to bring in FDI to create jobs for India’s particularly young workforce.
Directly after, we drove around to see some of the colonial and governmental buildings in Delhi, followed by lunch at an outdoor Thai restaurant. That afternoon we visited the Qutub Complex, a UNESCO heritage site that comprises the Qutab Minar, the tallest brick minaret in the world, as well as the oldest mosque in India. The colorful gradients of stone used to build the place were absolutely gorgeous.
The last activity of the day was shopping in the handicrafts market called Dilli Haat where students put Managerial Negotiations to work while bargaining for souvenirs.
The next morning we visited a Fortis Healthcare hospital. Fortis is a healthcare network of 55 hospitals, plus other specialty service providers, that serve urban areas in India. Form our guest speakers, we learned about healthcare in India, medical tourism, and the complexities of treating such a large population with relatively low healthcare investment from the government. There’s a significant divide between private and public and urban and rural healthcare in India, as well as a disproportionate share of the worlds disease burden. At the same time, there is great opportunity because Indian doctors can treat issues with much lower costs for manpower and infrastructure. This leads to competitive prices and high efficiency for people who are able to afford the system (well off nationals or medical tourists), but still leaves doubts about the swathes of people who fall out of this exclusive circle. Much remains to be done to bring this people into the healthcare system.
Our final company visit of the trip was with the chairman of Airtel, India’s foremost telecom company and one of its top conglomerates. It was fascinating to hear about the connectedness that mobile has brought to all stratas of Indian society; everyone, rich or poor, urban or rural, has a mobile phone. The area for growth lies in data usage, as Bharti Airtel and its competitors try to get consumers to use 3G and 4G on their smartphones. We also learned about the company’s unique business model, which leverages their tower infrastructure to enable other carriers to utilize the same towers, bringing in additional revenue and boosting margins significantly. Finally, the company touted its high disclosure standards, which are particularly notable in a country infamous for its corruption. The evening ended with a mixer at the hotel for Chazen students, local CBS alumni and admitted students, generously hosted by alumnus Varun Gupta, class of 2010.
The final day was dedicated to some sightseeing and relaxing after 11 days of Chazen. The group went in the morning to the Akshardam Temple, the second largest Hindu temple in the world yet one that is only about a decade old. This spiritual-cultural center is amazingly ornate and beautiful, and it was great to hear more about India’s primary religion. In the afternoon, a small group explored Old Delhi in tuk tuks while others reposed at the luxurious hotel. To be honest, I stayed in the hotel because of the horrible pollution encapsulating Delhi. The city’s pollution has surpassed the level of Beijing and is truly hazardous, with particularly dangerous particles. I believe that most students were quite dumbfounded by how bad the smog situation is. The government is taking steps to ameliorate the situation (e.g. Instituting an odd/even license plate trade off) but combatting pollution will be one of the most significant challenges India faces in the near- and long-term. On a more upbeat note, we ended the trip with a fabulous dinner at the highly regarded restaurant Varq in our hotel. It was a great way to appreciate the hard work of our amazing organizers Divya and Nikhil, and to celebrate the new friendships and memories forged over recent days.