Happy Sunday everyone!
I spent the majority of the day in Old Delhi. We walked through Chandni Chowk and the spice market. Old Delhi is crazy and can be a bit overwhelming, there is so much going on! Red Fort is nearby Chandni Chowk, so we spent some time there as well. The markets in Old Delhi had a much different vibe from all the others, so this was a really cool way to spend the day. Afterwards, we went to Connaught Place which is right by the Janpath Market. This area has very similar architecture to British architecture and has a ton of shops. We found a really nice café that makes cool different types of chai. There is a big park in the center of all of the shops called Central Park. It was a bit different from the Central Park in New York, but still very beautiful! It was a Sunday well spent.
Monday was full of classes, which is characteristic for how most of the week went. We had an anthropology class that focused on discussing new views of culture and the difference between small and large culture. We also had our second technology class and discussed demonetization in India and the rising popularity of mobile payments. During demonetization in 2016, 86% of the currency that was in circulation went out in efforts to stop the spread of black money. Black money is any money that taxes are not paid on. Prior to demonetization, only 2% of the country was paying taxes. 3.3 million people are now paying their taxes; however, demonetization is not viewed as a positive movement. The government did not properly execute the situation, and people were left with no money for many months due to ATM’s running out of money and the government remaking the 2000 rupee bill a different size than before that was not accepted by ATMs. We learned about how demonetization did not create mobile payments, however it did open the space for this form of exchange to increase in use.
After our classes, we headed to our case study site. For our India case study, we will be working with an organization called the Naz India Foundation. Naz works with the stigma, prevention, and treatment of HIV/AIDS, young girls’ empowerments, and advocacy for LGBT rights. Similar to the organization we went to in Uganda, Girl Up, Naz has a ton of different programs that they work with. They have a Care Home program and Home-Based Care where they directly work with individuals and families affected by HIV. Their largest program is the GOAL program which works with young girls in public schools and teaches them life skills while learning the game of netball. There is no space for girls to play sports in public schools, so this program gives them the opportunity to build confidence and learn about how to take care of themselves and their bodies. Naz has also worked with the court section 377 ruling that deems homosexuality illegal in India and filed petitions against it. While they filed the petition in 2001 and are still working with it, policy change is extremely difficult and takes a lot of time. Naz has done a really good job of working with advocacy for LBGT rights in India and trying to change the stigma.
The most interesting thing that we learned while at Naz was that they are currently in a transitional phase where they are shifting from being a service providing organization to a leadership providing organization. They now offer trainings of their programs and ideas to different organizations and businesses that have a similar gender focus as Naz. Something important to mention is that Naz has no income-generating activities. Therefore, they are not considered a social enterprise and are listed as a charitable trust. The number of funders that Naz has is incredible, and they have done a remarkable job of establishing themselves as a well-known organization not just in Delhi, but also in many other parts of India and places outside of India.
We were only at the organization for about 2 hours and only spoke to one individual. The woman we spoke with is the manager of Naz, has been there for 20 years, and has worked with all of the programs, so she was a very good person to speak with, however it was much much quicker than the case study day that we had in Uganda.
We have a really nice park right behind our home and our siblings will often play there after school. We played badminton with our host sister, which I used to play with my family all the time when I was younger. It was a lot of fun, but once the sun starts to go down, the bugs come out and it’s quite a task to try and play at the same time. My host family is super loving and its really apparent that they really enjoy their childhood. It’s nice to be in this type of environment and reminds me a lot of my childhood.
Tuesday morning, we had a site visit with a place called Operation ASHA. Operation ASHA works with bringing treatments to individuals affected by tuberculosis in the urban slum and rural village communities in India. This organization is an NGO and all patients receive their treatment free of cost. They have developed a technology that keeps track of all of their patients and allows them to see when individuals haven’t come to receive their treatment. The man we spoke with told us that they will often go to their patients even when they don’t come to make sure they get their treatment. He said that they’ll tell the patient, “We’re trying to save your life, man”. I was really surprised with how much of a challenge they said it is to get people to come everyday to take their medicine.
After the site visit, we had a social entrepreneurship class about how social entrepreneurs scale. We talked about the question of if scaling an organization is the same thing as scaling impact and if organizational scale is the same thing as systematic scale. One of the main points that our professor made was that social entrepreneurs recognize the power of the interdependence of a system and how all levels need to work together in order to try to make systematic change. She also said, “Can anybody really own an idea in this world”. I thought that was really interesting. It’s also really cool that we have her as a professor because she doesn’t normally teach, rather she is a social entrepreneur herself. She is extremely intelligent, and its unfortunate that we only get three short sessions with her.
Three of us did something crazy after class and got our noses pierced!! Yes, not that crazy, but we were super spontaneous about it. The man that did the piercings didn’t use a needle, he just sort of stuck the ring in my nose. It was much more painless than I expected!
We had another full day of classes on Wednesday. We talked about the difference between simple, complicated, and complex systems and how systems thinking requires a shift in mindset away from a linear to circular mindset in our design thinking class. We had a capital vs intention debate for businesses in our technology class. I would’ve sat on the intention side of this debate coming into this program. However, I’ve realized that intention is great, but if you don’t have the capital to fund the intention then it is not going to be sustainable or realistic. I don’t think it has to be one or the other though, I think you need both to have a successful business or organization.
We ended early and headed to a café to plan out some things for our spring break that is coming up in a few weeks. Emma and I went out for dinner afterwards. I had these butter chicken spring roll things, they were delicious. The Bharatanatyam dancer that I am going to be taking classes from had a performance in the evening, so the two of us went after dinner. The performance center was almost as beautiful as the performance. I am always amazed by the complexity of Indian classical dance. There was a little girl sitting next to me trying to mimic the moves that the dancers on the stage were doing. It was so precious.
Thursday morning, we had a guest lecture about the organization Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group. Chintan works with waste management and this lecture was extremely informative about the waste situation in India and the current environmental crisis. Chintan is trying to convert waste into livelihoods by employing those that work with waste due to their caste and ensuring that no children are working in waste by putting them in school. Chintan is trying to use waste as a tool to fight poverty and by the sounds of it, they’re having a pretty large impact.
We had our last social entrepreneurship class today (which is crazy because we just got here last week). We talked about what should be included on a one-page business plan and what a strategic planning framework looks like. We also talked about how the planning process is more important than the plan for a business which I thought was an interesting perspective.
We headed to TARA for a site visit afterwards. TARA stands for Technology and Action for Rural Advancement. They use waste to make paper and saw dust to make bricks, and from what I gathered they sell the technologies they use to rural communities. However, because of time and distance we weren’t able to go their headquarters first for an overview of everything they do, so the social entrepreneurial aspect of this organization was a bit confusing while we were there. Nevertheless, it was really cool to see!
Thursday evening, I had a dance lesson with my host sister’s dance teacher. She taught me some of the basics of kathak, one of the Indian classical dance forms, and part of a choreography to a kathak based classical dance. The teacher came to my home and we had the lesson in one of the bedrooms, with no mirrors, so it was quite interesting, but I am happy I was able to do it!
We had another anthropology class Friday morning and discussed the many different gazes. We took a look at the male gaze, the orientalist gaze, the reverse gaze and the colonial gaze. These different gazes capture different things, usually through photographs or visual media, based on that gaze. For example, the male gaze usually captures images that involve the sexualization of women for men’s desires. I was curious about whether the gaze can only be from the perspective of the photographer and if the gaze can be applied to inanimate objects.
We debriefed the week and then a small group of us headed to the airport to head to Mumbai for the weekend! The flight to get to Mumbai from Delhi was only about 2 hours. My two friends, Emma and Sanne, and I stayed in a beautiful hotel for the weekend. We had an incredible dinner Friday night. It was a full 6-course meal and was beyond amazing!
Mumbai has a very different feel than Delhi. It is right on the water and the architecture reminds me a lot of Europe. We went to the Gateway of India Saturday afternoon and had lunch at the Taj hotel. The Taj hotel was absolutely beautiful, and we had a very nice high tea for lunch. Worth every penny. One of my friends from Lehigh lives in Mumbai and I was able to meet his parents for dinner Saturday night. It was really nice to be able to meet them and the meal we had was one the best I’ve had in India yet.
The hotel that we stayed at had a beautiful rooftop pool that we hung out by Sunday morning. Sanne and I went to Haji Ali Dargah which is a mosque in the middle of the water in Mumbai that you walk to. It was unbelievably hot, I felt like I was a heater, but we were glad we went. We headed to the airport afterwards to catch our flight back to Delhi. It was really nice to be able to see another part of India! I’m loving this place more and more each day.
As always, thanks for reading!!