The following post is from President Brodhead:
Last Day in Mumbai
Our trip ended with two days in Mumbai. This city is wholly different from Delhi, and a formula I’d often heard –Delhi is India’s Washington D. C., Mumbai is India’s New York—captures some of the difference. But of course, its character is all its own. A continual mystery of India is how a country that’s missing so much basic infrastructure can nevertheless be the booming place it obviously is. How, literally, can a place be a international business center when it takes two hours driving through zany traffic and bustling streetlife to get to town center from the airport?
I actually came to love the adventure of traffic in India, with its near misses every minute, but my favorite hour was spent on foot. Mumbai has a very beautiful old downtown, and our Duke companion Nicholas School Professor Prasad Kasibhatla, a proud hometown boy, took us on a long ramble—through modern shops and ancient reading rooms, past sandal makers and sugar cane grinders, to the great old Victorian train station. We got there about 6 p m, as an ocean of people roared past to catch a ride home at the end of the workday. First the port, then the train, and now the Iinternet have made Mumbai a superconnected place, and a scene of extraordinary vitality.
In Mumbai as in Delhi, Duke gave us access to remarkably interesting people. These people were not just “successful” in some conventional sense. They had the excited air of working at things that were inconceivable a short time ago. Tuesday we met with Dr. R. K. Pachauri, the director-general of TERI and co-recipient (along with Al Gore) of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change. Dr. Pachauri and his colleagues are leading the effort to bring clean-energy power to the 400 million Indians who lack access to electricity. Wednesday we met a Duke alum figuring out how to connect farmers to a market in a country where many are hungry and food rots for lack of distribution.
One impressive example of this type was Karan Maheshwari, Trinity ’05, who I knew a little since his senior year was my first year at Duke. He has been working for McKinsey around the world and they have now sent him back home to Mumbai. His project at the moment involves public-private coalitions to eliminate slums, which always seemed an “eternal” feature of Mumbai life.
Karan accompanied me on a visit to his former school, the Cathedral and John Connor School, where we sang the praises of Duke and answered a hundred eager questions. I’m confident that some of the 11th graders we spoke to will be seen in Durham—and that Duke will continue to build friendships and partnerships in India.
October 17, 2008