Exploring Chennai: First Day

Aug 17th,

Today was our first day of the program. In the morning we visited the Heritage Village where we learned to dance traditional Indian music and we had a beautiful Indian lady paint “Mendhi” designs on our hands. On the afternoon, we visited Mamallapuram and went inside a Hindu temple made out of sand stone that was built 15 centuries ago. It is the only one standing temple out of five that were originally built.

- Ana Corina Sosa

Gabriel Mijares 08/21/14

August 10, 2014.  This day marked my first visit to the country of India.  Right now, I have my own travel plans before joining the Ross Business Trip; I am currently in Jaipur and my next destination will be Jodphur in a couple of days.  My first day here in Jaipur was nothing short of amazing.  Also known as the “Pink City”, this city holds endless number of tourist attractions which symbolize the incredible culture and long history of India.  I got to ride an elephant in my visit to Amber Fort, visited the Observatory, temples and the Palace, and also got to experience first-hand the hectic traffic that goes around 24/7 in India.  If the rest of my trip will be just like today, I might need to extend my 3-week stay here in India because I am speechless with this culture (I wrote this blog on my first day in India).

August 20, 2014: Yesterday we attended an Indian performing arts school where we were fortunate enough to witness a recital given by the students.  The dance was everything you would imagine a traditional Indian dance to be.  The dancers and the outfits they wore and the campus itself were so beautiful and serene.  It was a breath of fresh air to turn away from the businesses and corporations for a few hours and explore the cultural side of India.  It was truly an experience.

August 20, 2014: Yesterday we attended an Indian performing arts school where we were fortunate enough to witness a recital given by the students.  The dance was everything you would imagine a traditional Indian dance to be.  The dancers and the outfits they wore and the campus itself were so beautiful and serene.  It was a breath of fresh air to turn away from the businesses and corporations for a few hours and explore the cultural side of India.  It was truly an experience.

Gabriel Mijares 08/20/14 Blog

Today, our fourth day of our India Business Trip, started quite early since I went to the beach at 6:30 am.  It was a good experience since we got to relax and get away  from our busy business trips in a beach that was very dirty due to the abundant trash in the shore.  I got the opportunity to complete the Ice Bucket Challenge, which is an initiative to raise awareness and funding for ALS disease; so this was a good compliment to my beach visit.  We are on our way to visit Kalakshetra, an art and dance institute, and from there we will go to a non-vegetarian restaurant to conclude our Chennai trip.  Chennai, thank you for your unique hospitality.  Bangalore, see you in a few hours.  (pictures of the beach attached)

- Gabriel Mijares

Visit to Kalakshetra

During our last day in Chennai we visited Kalakshetra which is an arts institute in the city. I had the opportunity to see incredible dancers and experience the local culture. I was very impressed by how talented these dancers were as they performed for us. What was most interesting were the delicate hand gestures and how coordinated they were with the percussion they created with their steps. The dancers as well expressed diverse emotions with facial expressions during the repertoire. Afterwards, while I visited the campus I saw amazing nature sites which the students take advantage of to practice in the outdoors. Definitely a very interesting cultural experience.

—Martina Lugo 

Business and Social Dynamics in India

Our first company visit in India was to Sundaram Clayton, one of the largest auto manufacturing and distribution centers in India. I was impressed by their diligent commitment and emphasis on customer service, quality and delivery of their products, and employee involvement. The company was very process oriented. There was an honest ideology that an effective and conducive workspace insured that employees were engaged in company activities outside of work and customer feedback was frequently sought and interpreted well.  Their business strategy was built around the rationale of delivering products in a timely manner and producing quality products, which would then ensure customer loyalty, generating sustainable profits. This seemed very logical to be in the eyes of a consumer. It seemed to contrast how business is done in America, which is very profit driven and results oriented. Quality, delivery, and employee involvement appear to be secondary in America’s business mindset. 

There was an obvious gender gap that existed in Sundaram Clayton. There were very few women who worked within the company. Their role was to evaluate the final product, in order to ensure nothing was flawed. The executives explained that this is because “women are more detailed oriented” which made them the most suitable for the job. In my opinion, this statement and outlook on women’s abilities and capabilities stemmed from stereotypes and typical gender binaries. Women fulfilling subordinate roles in society is not unique to India, but I did find it contrasting the increase in the number women becoming educated the country. One way I think they can increase the number of women in their company and place them into more key roles would be to increase the number of women they recruit in their apprenticeship process. This company sponsors a three year education program in which students are trained during their university career and then filtered into the company once they complete the program and their degree. This filtering process is something Michigan wants to adapt: career technical education that has a curriculum created by businesses, in order to guarantee graduates are equipped with the exact skills and experiences businesses are looking for in potential employees. Perhaps Michigan can use Sundaram Clayton as a best practice model. 

After our visit to the company, we were joined by an esteemed group of businessmen and government personnel. I particularly grew interested in a speaker who worked for an NGO. We discussed various issues such as government partnerships with NGOs, education, urban development and population density, prison reform, and racism. I was glad to talk about some of the social dynamics of Chennai and India as a whole. 

I love studying abroad because there is no other educational experience like learning in the actual environment you are studying in. I think it is an amazing opportunity to be here to witness the booming business sector in this growing economy first hand, while speaking to some of the most prominent business people in the country. This is only the first stop! I’m excited for what has yet to come. 

- Alexis Farmer

Exploring Chennai—By: Meredith Bury

On our last night in Chennai, we had the opportunity to explore the city on our own.  I went out to dinner with a few other students at a restaurant that served food from Andhra—a state in southern India.  There was a bit of a language barrier, but at the end of the day we tried some delicious chicken masala, biryani rice and chili paneer, all cooked in the style from Andhra.  I have thoroughly been enjoying all of the food we’ve eaten here so far, and I think my spicy tolerance is going up!  After dinner, we explored the streets of Chennai a bit where we found a bazaar, a few markets and lively streets.  I really enjoyed the opportunity to explore the city and see a small part of the day to day life of the residents of Chennai.  

Travels in India: Thanks and Goodbye Chennai!

It’s with sadness that we bid farewell to Chennai today but at the same time arrive to Bangalore with an air of excitement for new adventures.

Visiting Marina beach this morning was definitely an experience! We got some great pictures and laughs, but it was definitely apparent to see how India is still continuing to face challenges in its growth and development with the need for more infrastructure and regulation in waste and overall city health management.

It was an absolutely fantastic send off from Chennai with a delicious (and beautiful) lunch of South Indian vegetarian food. In addition, the visit to Kalakshetra, a cultural academy designed to the preserve traditional Indian music, dance and art just blew me away. We were treated to a performance and a tour of the beautiful campus, along with more insight into hindu gods and shrines typically found in front of villages. What really struck wa

The previous two days we were treated to a wealth of knowledge and insight into really the heart and core of doing Business in India with perspectives from fantastic speakers and visits to the Sundaram Clayton and Ford plant. What really struck me was the realistic manner in which the speakers addressed the key issues facing India. While no doubt there was great pride and optimism, I was inspired by the frankness and aknowledgment about some of the struggles that India faces as it continues to grow and hopes to become even more of a dominating global force. 

I was struck by the ease in which Sundaram Clayton was able to adopt best practices and processes utilized by other manufacturing plants and yet still infuse their own cultural beliefs and customs that have helped them become a huge success in die molding. 

I was also struck by Ford’s determination and optimism for growth and profit in the Indian market despite continuing to suffer losses in the short run. Again, there is a trend of investment in the future and optimism that will be interesting to see as we continue to experience and learn different businesses and industries across India. 

Despite having taken some of my most favorite pictures of the trip thus far, the need to be awake and alert tomorrow will have to postpone sharing some of these pictures! 

-Alim Leung