India: one country with many worlds.
What makes India such an attractive study destination? With more than 1.35 billion people and 880 spoken languages in India, each Indian state is as different from the other as a European country is from the other, in terms of language, cuisine and customs.
Swift progress has taken place in India in recent years leading to the country becoming the world’s fastest growing major economy.
The genesis of the GO India Initiative-
What my husband and I gathered from our extensive travel is that there is always something about India that people (be it history buffs, foodies or investors) want a piece of. With people we have met all over the world, the general consensus is that India is considered a fascinating / exotic / unique place.
That being said, it is a place that can be highly misunderstood, and our role is to bust the myths that kill the curiosity for people who are fascinated by the idea of India.
The people who make the journey with open minds, are usually confused at first but soon enough India’s charm begins to grow on them – and then they want more and lots more of it!
Our friends at the Institute for Strategic Leadership, Tokyo are the quintessence of this observation. Our firm, Think Education has been delivering week long immersions in Indian business and culture for groups with up to 40 ISL students every year since 2013.
2018 is the 6th consecutive year for this long-standing working relationship with India and us! ISL’s students are working executives whose companies have sponsored them for ISL’s Senior Leadership Programme.
The crux of their learnings at ISL is leadership with a heart, and their immersion here in Mumbai, a city with conspicuous economic disparity, is planned keeping that in mind.
The ISL delegation comes to Mumbai to understand how the smallest businesses and the largest conglomerates coexist, they want to witness the breadth of CSR activity, they are intrigued by the effect religion has on business.
Even though the sessions and discussions that are delivered here in English have to be translated to Japanese, they come here eager to learn and connect with India. The students love asking detailed questions, and this curiosity is what helps them optimally absorb so much knowledge.
Think Education might be responsible for supporting their India initiative, but it is their thirst for knowledge that really gets them to pick up on so much in that one week each year. India for you is what you choose to make of it!
ISL Tokyo, have been our inspiration for conceptualising the GO India Initiative. It has always been a pleasure servicing them and having the opportunity to understand Japanese culture.
‘Internationalisation at Home’ has been a topic of many discussions in Indian Higher Education. If we can’t provide opportunities for all our millions of students to travel and enhance their cultural quotient, we can provide opportunities to people from all over the world to engage with our people here in India.
Internationalisation is a two-way street and both sides of the street have to be paved with interesting opportunities. For years, we have seen Indian students travel abroad for research, study and cultural experiences. There is tremendous scope for the reverse as well.
I completed my undergraduate studies at a locally respected college in Mumbai, H.R. College of Commerce and Economics, and despite it being a reputed and relatively internationally minded institution; I did not have a single non-Indian batch-mate.
We would have a few semester-abroad students from time to time but most of us didn’t have a chance to interact with them. In my 5 years at H.R. College, I wish I could have made a couple of foreign friends, if not more. From my own experiences, I became aware of the lack of internationalization at home.
India has more universities than any other country in the world; over 800! Yet our gross enrolment ratio is between 24 and 25 %. Majority of these students are not given exposure to foreign students and are left lacking a global outlook.
The epiphany of this tremendous scope combined with our several years of experience with ISL encouraged us to develop a broader platform, simply consolidating the services that we were already providing.
We built this vertical to cater to undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as corporate groups, with a wide range of program themes including Business & Entrepreneurship, Culture & History, Fashion & Textiles, Film & Media, Healthcare and Politics & International relations.
The GO India Initiative has emerged as a one-stop-shop for immersions, short term study abroad, customized faculty-led programs, open enrolment programs and volunteering internships.
Although our offerings are essentially experiential learning programs, our program customization feature enables us to tailor make our programs to suit the specific learning objectives of our visiting groups.
Faculty from our university clients can guide us with the program content and context for them to in turn award credit to their students.
We do not follow the one-size-fits-all model, and are sensitive to the fact that our collaborating universities will have different requirements and preferences.
Why short term (1 to 6 week) experiences? Our niche is suitable to people with commitments back at home and / or people who would not have the means to spend several months in a different country.
Our programs and immersions are designed as focused, intensive and holistic. Our participants visit India with an open mind and thus-far 100% of our participants have mentioned that they would like to engage with India in the future, be it through another visit, contributing to local charities or doing business with India.
The GO India Initiative gives them a chance to fall in love with India and make new connections with Indian students, families, academia, industry and NGOs in a secure environment.
The GO India Initiative is the perfect place to be for me. Personally, I have a great zest for meeting people from different places and as an active founder of the initiative, my role involves being an ambassador for my country at study abroad conferences, understanding what our clients’ requirements are, making their India journey a reality and ensuring that they return feeling 100% content.
Our current team is small and efficient, and I speak on behalf of us all when I say that nothing that we do here is as hard as saying good-bye when our groups are heading back home!
It is a pleasure learning more about our participants and where they come from; witnessing their reactions to what they see and learn here and knowing that they appreciate different aspects of India.
Be it the Beatles, Steve Jobs or an intrigued student – India has something for everyone!
We have been welcoming participating groups from the USA, the UK and Japan and we have exciting times ahead as we expand our reach to become completely global!