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Entry #2 – Dean Nohria’s World Tour

Day Six – Reflections on India

It has been a remarkable few days. On July 28, Dean Nohria returned to India for the first time since his appointment was announced in May. His visit was wildly anticipated in the country of his birth by alumni and friends of the School and the Indian press who turned out in large numbers to see him deliver the Sixteenth Annual J.R.D. Tata Memorial Oration at Tata Theatre in Mumbai. Close to 1,000 participants braved an afternoon monsoon to hear Nitin speak about the India and the Globalization of Business. India’s business community was well represented as were HBS alumni and many students from universities in Mumbai. The central sponsor was The Associated Chambers of Commerce of India (ASSOCHAM), which invited representatives from several other regional chambers. It was a truly impressive showing of India’s most engaged business practitioners.

ASSOCHAM President Dr. Swati Piramal, offered a warm introduction. In his remarks, Nitin was equal parts optimistic and cautionary about India’s future role on the global business stage. He lauded the tremendous success of the past two decades, citing several examples of Indian companies, including Tata Industries, who have built a presence outside of India while creating economic growth and prosperity in the country. However, he cautioned India’s business leaders not to rest on their laurels or to assume that they have won the race. He spoke about the next century being a truly global one in which those nations who innovate best will reap the rewards.

The balance of the week included three other public speaking appearances –two for NGO GiveIndia.org and one for NGO Toofles – and meetings with many HBS alumni and friends of the School. In each talk Nitin continued to drive home the message that business has an essential role to play in solving the world’s most pressing problems and in creating growth and prosperity. That message was well-received in a nation where the business community is increasingly focused on social enterprise endeavors.

From my perspective as a first-time visitor to India it was in a phrase, a shock to the senses, in all ways. It is a land of stark contrasts. There is tremendous energy and a palpable entrepreneurial spirit. At the same time, there is heart-wrenching poverty. Most of all, there is tremendous potential and one thing stood out to me – regardless of where we were or to whom we were speaking, the people were gracious and warm. I look forward to returning.

Next stop – Hong Kong . . .

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