Friday, September 7, 2012

India: A study in contrast

An opulent Sheraton hotel that would not be out of place in Las Vegas… less than a mile and half from a beach where people live in cardboard slums.  Roads shared by all manner of conveyance – including ox- and camel-drawn carts, and ultra-luxury automobiles.  An eye hospital whose community outreach cataract surgery recovery room reminded me of a World War II-era ward, but whose surgical techniques and technological equipment are cutting-edge and world-class.  The peaceful reflection of the Bahá'í Lotus temple contrasting with the teeming crowds of T. Nagar shopping area. 

These dichotomies are not out-of-place in the chaotic miasma that is modern India.  While visiting, I was continually reminded of all the extremes that exist in our world.  For example, we visited the Nissan/Renault plant and marveled at the modern efficiencies of the line operations in the same week that India experienced the most massive power outage ever to occur in the world.  From what I observed, the Indian people embrace and plan for differences with a flexibility and grace that is admirable.  On returning to the US, I was surprised that people here were more concerned about the blackout than those experiencing it! 

One thing that was consistent, though, was the focus on relationships evidenced through the hospitality we experienced and each company’s emphasis customer service.  I was quite impressed by Cognizant’s 2-in-a-box and 3-in-a-box models, where they include relationship support with the businesses where consultants are placed instead of just sending the technical employees in on their own.  By reaching out and trying to understand the customers’ businesses, Cognizant has been able to grow their relationships beyond short-term contracts into highly sustainable growth. 

While I may never visit India again, I will take these lessons with me and appreciate even more some of the stability we take for granted here.

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