Culture and Civilization Matters

January 20, 2010

Exploring India’s Transitions and Tensions

Filed under: Term 3 Delhi — Tags: , , , , — wadatripp @ 8:34 pm

ANALYZING TRANSITIONS AND TENSIONS
Just as we examined the impact of cultural and civilization on Dubai through the prism of a tension where the region seeks to remain true to its Arabic and Islamic Heritage as it simultaneously embraces the modern-day economy, the CCL course in Delhi will be grounded in the key transitions that India has experienced and the resulting tensions that have emerged as a result.

More specifically we will explore how the following transitions:

  • Societal: From Caste System to Civil Society
  • Political:From Imperial Rule to Pluralistic Democracy
  • Economic:From Third World to First World

Additionally, we will explore the resulting tensions that have emerged as a result of these transitions:

  • Societal: Religious Reform and Pluralism verus Hindu Nationalism and Islamic Fundamentalism
  • Political: Corruption and Gridlock versus Democratic Reform
  • Economic: Affluenza versus the Bottom of the Pyramid

VISUALIZING THE TENSIONS AND TRANSITIONS
The chart below summarizes the Societal, Political and Economic lenses through which we will explore the region:

We will explore the Societal, Political, and Economic transitions and associated tensions in more depth in subsequent pages of this blog.

Click here to return to CCL Delhi Main Page

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Societal Tension: Religion, Caste and Indian Identity

Filed under: Term 3 Delhi — Tags: , , , — wadatripp @ 8:32 pm

INTRODUCTION
India’s caste system has long imposed a hierarchical structure on society within the region. Despite the fact that India’s constitution has made caste based discrimination illegal there is still strong evidence to suggest that it still plays a major role in Indian society.

Given that the Hindu faith promotes religious tolerance, India has long been recognized as a country that is open to all faiths. Many faiths such as Buddishm and Jainism originated in India and India’s Jewish population remains the only diaspora in Jewish history which has never encountered a single incident of anti-sematism. India is also home to the second largest population Muslims in the world.

So while India has had a long history of religious tolerance it has simultaneously maintained a strong adherence to the rigid hierarchical structure of the caste system.

This section of the blog will explore the interplay between religious openness and adherence to the caste system and how it impacts Indian Identity today.

INDIA’s HISTORY AS AN OPEN SOCIETY
In the following brief video, Sashi Tharoor outlines India’s long history as an open society where people of all faiths have been allowed to freely and openly practice their faiths.

To view the Sashi Tharoor’s complete TED talk click here.

CHRONICLING INDIA’S RELIGIOUS HISTORY
For a more detailed chronological view on the large variety or faith that have called India home over the centuries, we revisit BBC Civilizations web tool

bbcciv

You can access the tool by clicking HERE.

We encourage you to analyze the how faiths such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Sikhism have been a part of India’s history.

For a thorough overview of the of the faiths that call India home, please review the PBS site based on Michael Wood’s documentary The Story of India.

You can see the full overview of religion in India by clicking here.

CASTE SYSTEM DEFINED
One of the most widely commented upon features of Indian society is the caste system. The origin of the usage of the term “caste” is traced to the 16th century when the Portuguese came to India and found the Indian community divided into many separate groups which they called “castas” meaning tribes, clans or families.

The four fold classification: Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras – in descending order of social status is believed to have originated as a feature of Hindu society, but the influence of caste has made its way into most non-Hindu religions in India also.

A.L. Basham defines caste as a system of groups within the class which are normally:

  • Endogamous – Marriage being legitimate only within the group.
  • Commensual – Food to be received from and eaten only in the presence of members of the same or higher group
  • Craft Exclusive – Each man to live by the trade or profession of his own group and not take up that of another.

CASTE SYSTEM DETAIL
In the video below, Dr. Mridu Rai, Associate Professor of History at Yale, delves more deeply into the history of the caste system in India from 1200 BC to the legal elimination of caste based discrimination in the constitution of modern-day independent India.

Please review the first 10 minutes of this interview to gain a deeper understanding of the nuances of the caste system in India.

Finally, please view the following short excerpt from an interview with Cyril Shroff, or a non-academic perspective on the caste system and its impact on business today, despite the fact that it is considered illegal.


To view complete interview with Cyril Sharoff click here.

RELIGION, CASTE AND REGION AS BASIS FOR INDIAN IDENTITY
In this brief video excerpt, Sashi Tharoor, clearly describes the role that Religion, Caste and Region play in defining Indian identity today.

INDIA’S SOCIETAL TRANSITION: QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • How is it that Indian society can at simultaneously be so open to multiple faiths while continuing to adhere to a very rigid hierarchical structure such as the caste system?
  • How has India managed to maintain religious pluralism despite the fact that the region has lived through several Empires – most notably the Islamic Moghul Empire and Christian British Empire?
  • Consider the tension of maintaining religious freedom in a country where over 80% of the population is Hindu while at the same time being home to the second largest population of 150 million Muslims.
  • Consider how the prevalence of the caste system might influence the dynamics of religious pluralism and societal unrest in India.

Click here to return to CCL Delhi Main Page

Economic Tension: Addressing Poverty – India’s Biggest Opportunity and Most Difficult Challenge

Filed under: Term 3 Delhi — Tags: , , , , , , , — wadatripp @ 8:31 pm

INTRODUCTION
Despite India’s significant rise in overall economic status in the world, more than a quarter of Indians (300 Milllion people) still live below the absolute poverty line of $1/day.

The contrasts between rich and poor are perhaps more striking today as they have ever been. In thriving urban areas such as Delhi, are experiencing what Edward Luce calls “Affluenza.” Today, one in five children in Delhi is obese while in the country as a whole 42% of the child population is malnourished.

This inequality is a rising problem for India. With annual GDP growth rates upwards of 8% and with the poverty only falling by 1% there remains a significant challenge in bringing prosperity to the bottom of the pyramid, that if not addressed in an appropriate timeframe could yield social unrest.

THE OPPORTUNITY
In this excerpt, Shashi Tharoor outlines the future economic progress for India and the opportunity it represents for pulling people out of poverty.


To see complete interview with Shashi Tharoor click here.

Similarly, Gurcharan Das, former CEO of Procter and Gamble India and noted consultant and author, presents a bullish overview of India’s economic future and compares it to China.


Hint: To better view ^ the presentation click the full option on Slideshare.

Both Tharoor and Das discuss the significant potential that this economic gain will have on bringing the bottom 300 million out of poverty.

Noted academic C.K. Prahalad also suggests that focusing on the bottom of the pyramid can be a win-win solution for both customers and the enterprise.

This book was created based on a paper that Prahalad and Hart published in Strategy + Business in 2002. You can read the paper by clicking here.

In the following video excerpt, Dr. Prahalad outlines three false assumptions we make that impede us from seeing the opportunity that lies at the bottom of the pyramid.

FROM ISOLATIONIST BASKET CASE TO ECONOMIC POWERHOUSE
In video excerpt, Cyril Shroff outlines the history of India’s Economy from being a Basket Case at the outset of Independence to becoming the a key player in today’s World Economy.


To view the complete interview with Shroff click here.

In a similar vein, Nandan Nilekani outlines here why India was initially reluctant to embrace globalization but not that the reforms of the 80s and 90s have taken hold globalization is widely accepted in India.


To view complete interview with Nilekani click here.

In both cases, Saroff and Nilekani highlight that the India initially turned its back on globalization in favor of more socialist reform. With the arrival of Economic reform in the 1980’s/1990’s India has grown significantly, but this growth does not come without significant challenges.

THE ECONOMIC PERSPECTIVE
In this video excerpt, Edward Luce, emphasizes the fact that that the disparity between rich and poor presents to India is a significant challenge and can be attributed to the inefficiency of the Indian state.

GOVERNMENT CHALLENGES IN DEALING WITH THE BOTTOM 300 Million
In this excerpt, Cyril Shroff explores the widening poverty gap and the challenge that the government faces in closing it.

QUESTIONS TO PONDER

  • How has the caste system contributed to the ongoing (and perhaps widening) disparity between rich and poor?
  • What is it about Indian society that enables it to be so tolerant of religious equality and economic disparity?
  • Why have the economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s not been successful in reaching the bottom 300 million?
  • Consider the tension of a country with 8% GDP growth with poverty only falling by 1%. How can a parliamentary system with a 24 party coalition government implement rapid reform to address this gap?

Click here to return to CCL Delhi Main Page

Political Tension: Independence, Nationalism, Fundamentalism and the Multi-Party Coalition

Filed under: Term 3 Delhi — Tags: , , , , , , , — wadatripp @ 8:31 pm

INTRODUCTION
Today, some 63 years following India’s Independence, India is the world’s largest democracy.

Mahatma Gandhi is credited with leading the Civil-Disobedience campaign that ultimately led to the demise of the British Raj and the ushering in of an Independent India led by Jawaharlal Nehru.

In 1947, many westerners were quick to dismiss India’s ability to maintain stable democratic rule. While there have been a number of challenges in Independent democratic rule over the past 60 years, last year, since India’s voting population is growing by more than 20 million people per year, India celebrated the biggest exercise in democratic franchise in human history

Furthermore, five years ago during the elections India witnessed the extraordinary phenomenon of an election being won by a woman Italian Origin and Roman Catholic Faith, Sonia Gandhi, wo then made way for a Sikh, Manmohan Singh, to be sworn in as Prime Minister by a Muslim President, Abdul Kalam, in a country that is 81 percent Hindu.

However, as tensions between Pakistan and India have ebbed and flowed with more violent amplitude in recent decades the rise of Hindu Nationalism and Islamic Fundamentalism within India creates significant challenges for this pluralistic democratic system.

GANDHI, THE FALL OF THE BRITISH RAJ AND SEPARATION WITH PAKISTAN
As we learned from Tom Standage in London, the East India Company came came to rule large swaths of India for100 years following the Battle of Plassey.

In 1857, following the Indian Rebellion, the British Crown assumed direct administration of India under the British Raj. Noted historian, Michael Wood, in his BBC documentary entitled The Story of India, delves into the history of the British Raj by visiting its Archives.


To view the Michael Wood’s interview about the British Raj click here.

The following excerpt from the BBC documentary “Gandhi the Road to Freedom” chronicles the role that Gandhi played in bringing Independence to the India in 1947 and highlights some of the issues that emerged following the dissolution of British Rule.

Please view the first 6 minutes of this video.

DEMOCRACY: TENUOUS BEGINNINGS TO MULTIPARTY COALITION RULE
In this short video excerpt below , Edward Luce, author of “In Spite of the Gods,chronicles the emergence of the current multiparty coalition system of the worlds largest democracy from its tenuous embryonic roots.

In this excerpt, Luce also explores the impact that this democratically elected government is having on the gradual dissolution of the caste system.


You can view the the Edward Luce’s Talk here.

THE CURRENT STRUCTURE OF INDIA’S PLURALISTIC DEMOCRACY
The world’s largest democracy is also one that is quite complex in its governance. In this brief excerpt, Shashi Tharoor helps us navigate the complexities of India’s modern-day coalition government system.


To view the complete interview with Sashi Tahoor click here.

STORMY RAINCLOUDS: THE RISE OF HINDU NATIONALISM AND ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM
In this video excerpt, Edward Luce explores Hindu Nationalism. Luce describes fundamentalism as “tradition made aware and self defensive,” and explores the interplay and impact of fundamentalism and the caste system on the current government system in india

In the next excerpt, Luce further explores the challenges in reforming the multi-party coalition government in India. He also outlines some of the opportunities that digitization of government operations can help with this reform. This presents a clear tie to the work that Nandan Nilekani is doing with India’s Universal ID program.

QUESTIONS TO PONDER

  • What is it about Indian society and culture that allowed one figure, (Mahatma Gandhi), through a campaign of non-violent civil-disobedience, was able to rally a nation to bring down the British Raj?
  • How has India managed to maintain a functioning pluralistic democracy despite its significant religious differences and caste-based hierarchical structure?
  • How will Hindu Nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism test the multi-party coalition system? Can it be sustained?
  • What issues do you foresee emerging with a parliamentary system with a 24 party coalition government needing significant reform to maintain India’s continued stable growth?

Click here to return to CCL Delhi Main Page

Imagining India with Nandan Nilkekani

Filed under: Term 3 Delhi — Tags: , , , — wadatripp @ 8:29 pm

INTRODUCING OUR CEO SPEAKER
As we mentioned during the preparation call for Term 3, we are very excited that Nandan Nilekani, former CEO of Infosys, and now Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India, has agreed to address the CCMBA class during our time in India.

Mr. NILEKANI’S BOOK: IMAGINING INDIA
By now you should have all received a copy of Mr. Nilekani’s recently published book, Imagining India. While not required reading, it might come in handy on that long plane ride that many of you will face on your way to India ; )

Mr. NILEKANI’S TED TALK
For those of you who do not have time to read the book, we strongly recommend you view this 18 minute TED talk where Mr. Nilekani clearly and succinctly outlines the framework he used in writing the book.

THE ORGANIZING FRAMEWORK:A HIERARCHY OF IDEAS
To help further synthesize Mr. Nilekani’s analysis we have summarized the organizing framework of the book built around Ideas that Have Arrived, Ideas in Progress, Ideas in Conflict, and Ideas in Anticipation:

Much of what we will be exploring in CCL during our time India is centered around the Social, Political, and Economic Transitions and Tensions that emerge from the Ideas in Progress and Ideas that are Emerging that Mr. Nilekani outlines above.

FROM CORPORATE CEO TO GOVERNMENT CHAIRMAN
Why would India’s most “iconic technocrat” leave his role as Co-Chairman of one of India’s most successful IT companies to lead the Universal ID project?

As the video below outlines, the Universal ID program that Nilekani now leads is positioned to realize the unachieved hopes of many in India.

QUESTIONS TO PONDER

  • Many have argued that Mr. Nilekani’s Ideas framework is a very useful way to analyze emerging economic regions. Do you agree? Why or why not?
  • Do you agree that the confluence of the Ideas that have arrived position India very well for the future? Why or why not?
  • While Nilekani’s Ideas that have arrived may suggest a bright future for India, the Ideas in Progress and those in Conflict represent significant barriers to achieve this future. From Education, to Infrastructure to Political and Labor reform it appears that the obstacles to achieving the potential that Nilekani imagines are significant. What role will the UID project play in addressing these obstacles?
  • What will be the outcome for India if Mr. Nilekani is successful in implementing the Universal ID project?

Click here to return to CCL Delhi Main Page

Preparing for India: Some Facts and Figures

Filed under: Term 3 Delhi — Tags: , , — wadatripp @ 8:25 pm

DIGGING DEEP INTO THE DATA ON THE REGION
For those of you who value digging deeper into the numbers, you can always check out the CIA World Factbook page for India.

CLICK hereto access the CIA page

Another option is to review this comprehensive set of data about India from the Times of India Group in this slide deck (thanks to the Host Team for alerting me to this great deck):

Hint: To better view ^ the presentation click the full option on Slideshare.

A quick review of the CIA site and India Times presentation brings into stark relief the challenge we will all face as we endeavor to embed ourselves into this vast region.

Are you up for it? Lets GO!

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INDIA BACKGROUND: A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF A LONG HISTORY

Filed under: Term 3 Delhi — Tags: , , — wadatripp @ 8:21 pm

Chronicling India’s long history is a near impossible task.

Thankfully, Michael Wood has provided us with a useful resource to explore the detail of this region in the BBC TV Documentary Series the Story of India.

The video excerpt below introduces the Documentary Series:

PBS has created a very useful timeline of India’s history that embeds narrative, pictures and video excerpts from the Story of India.

You can access this timeline by clicking here.

Please use this timeline to explore some of the key moments in India’s History:

BEGINNINGS: 60,000 BCE-500 BCE

THE POWER OF IDEAS: 500 BCE – 200 BCE

SPICE ROUTES AND SILK ROADS: 200 BCE – 300 CE

AGES OF GOLD: 300 – 1000 CE

  • 300-550 CE: Gupta Empire Rule
  • 600-700 CE: Islam Introducted to India by Muslim Traders
  • 871-907 CE: Rise of the Cholan Empire

THE MEETING OF TWO OCEANS: 1000 – 1700 CE

FREEDOM: 1700-2009 CE

  • 1857: The Great Rebellion
  • 1858-1947: The British Raj
  • 1885: Indian National Congress Founded
  • 1906: Muslim League Founded
  • 1918: Mahatma Gandhi holds first Satyagraha in Bihar
  • 1919: Amristar Massacre
  • August 14/15 1947: India and Pakistan Gain Independence from Britain
  • 1948: Mahatma Gandhi assasinated by Hindu Extremist
  • 1951-1952: Congress Party wins first general elections under leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru
  • 1966: Nehru’s daugher, Indira Gandhi becomes Prime Minister
  • 1975: Indira Gandhi declares state of emergency after being found guilty of electoral malpractice
  • 1984: Operation Blue Star – troops storm Golden Temple – Sikhs’ most holy shrine – to flush out Sikh militants seeking self-rule.
  • 1984: Indira Gandhi is assassinated by Sikh bodyguards. Her son, Rajiv Gandhi assumes role of prime minister
  • 1987: India deploys troops for peacekeeping operation in Sri Lanka’s Civil War.
  • 1990: Indian troops withdrawn from Sri Lanka
  • 1991: Rajiv Gandhi assassinated by suicide bomber sympathetic to Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers
  • 1991: Economic reform program began by Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao and Finance Minister Manmohan Singh.
  • 1992: Hindu extremists demolish Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, triggering widespread Hindu-Muslim violence
  • 1996: Congress suffers defeat as Hindu Nationalist BJP emerges as largest single party.
  • 1998: BJP forms coalition government under Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee
  • 2001-2003: Rising tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir and escalation of nuclear war threat.
  • 2004: Surprise victory for Congress Party in general elections. Manmohan Singh is sworn in as Prime Minister
  • 2008: Nearly 200 people are killed in a series of co-ordinated attacks in Mumbai.
  • 2009: Resounding general election victory gives governing Congress-led alliance of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh an enhanced position in parliament.
  • Click here to return to CCL Delhi Main Page

WELCOME TO TERM 3: NEXT STOP…..DELHI

Filed under: Term 3 Delhi — Tags: , , , — wadatripp @ 8:06 pm

CONGRATULATIONS CCL STUDENTS!

Congratulations on completing Term 2 and welcome to Term 3!

NEXT STOP: INDIA!
Like the River Thames and the Dubai Creek in the past two cities we have visited, our CCMBA journey around the globe has ebbed and flowed through Relational Models and Cultural Dimensions to finally reach our third destination: Incredible India

PREPARING FOR THE INDIA EXPERIENCE
This brief video should whet your appetite for the incredible experience we are all about to embark upon at the end of this month:

BLOG OUTLINE
As was the case with London and Dubai, we have developed a set of blog pages with rich-media content that we believe you will find relevant to the topics we will be discussing during our time in Delhi.

Here is the outline:

  • Preparing for India: Some Facts and Figures. Click here to view.
  • Background on India: A Brief Overview of a Long History. Click here to view.
  • Imagining India: Preparing for our CEO session with Nandan Nilekani. Click here to view.
  • Exploring India’s Transitions and Tensions. Click here to view.
  • Societal Tension: Religion, Caste and Indian Identity. Click here to view.
  • Political Tension: Independence, Nationalism, Fundamentalism and the Multi-Party Coalition. Click here to view.
  • Economic Tension: Addressing Poverty – India’s Biggest Opportunity and Most Difficult Challenge. Click here to view.

We encourage you to review the contents of this blog and to post any comments, questions, or issues that come to mind as a result of having done so. Also, if you have good resources to add to the discussion, pleas be sure to include them in the Comment Section.

It is our sincere hope that we begin a robust virtual dialogue via this blog that we can synthesize during our time together at the residency.

See you in Delhi!

Click here to return to CCL main page.

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