Rady Students Visit an Emerging Economy in India

Rady students in India

Students of the Rady School of Management who visited India this spring broadened their global perspective, forged connections with international business leaders and witnessed firsthand a country straddled between a quickly expanding economy that mirrors U.S. advancements and the abject poverty of the third world.

About two dozen Rady students and Assistant Professor Thomas Roemer traveled to New Delhi, Agra, Bangalore and Chennai to visit business leaders and their operations from small shops to major manufacturing plants.

The students saw how the economy struggled to advance in a country plagued with poor infrastructure and a huge disparity between rich and poor.

“It is hard to imagine how a country with abysmal poverty and a weak infrastructure can still function rather well in so many ways,” Roemer said.

They visited the gated campus of Infosys, a software outsourcing giant. “In the gates you are in a modern day Utopia, but you knew just outside the walls of the campus, there was trash everywhere,” Roemer said, noting Bangalore appeared to have no organized garbage removal.

MBA student Jeff Thomson visited a startup that could help him produce software for his Lab to Market idea. He was impressed with their high technology and low wage requirements. But he said he could never live in New Delhi. “When we were there you could taste the pollution in your mouth,” Thomson said. “You couldn�t play tennis outside because you would be afraid of harming your health.”

But MBA student Kabir Gambhir, who organized the trip and has visited the country many times, said he was surprised at the explosive middle-class growth.

“You can see it in all forms of daily life from everyone having cell phones that didn’t have them before to finding items you would be able to find in a U.S. grocery store,” Gambhir said.

At a Ford manufacturing plant, the lessons MBA student Silvia Mah learned in her operations class came to life. In one section of the plant, a robotic arm assembled parts of the vehicles. In another, 30 men performed assemblies manually. She would never have seen the automated and manual assembly side by side in the United States.

“Now my operations class made so much more sense,” Mah said. “I can now see why it is better to have automation. It just gives you such an incredible breadth of knowledge that you could not get from an article or read between the lines.”