Sharing the global stage: Musings on Mumbai

[cross-posted at the TechLearning\nblog]


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After nearly 24 hours here in Mumbai, several things already\nare quite apparent to me...

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  1. The Southern states in the USA - my previous benchmark for hospitality –\nhave nothing on the folks that I have encountered so far in India (and I say\nthat as a native of the South). The people here have been uniformly gracious,\nfriendly, and welcoming.
  2. \n\n
  3. The word that best describes this city might be LOTS. As in LOTS of poverty\n(it's staggering, really, to a Westerner such as myself). As in LOTS of traffic\n(a bewildering mess of cars, trucks, taxis, buses, auto-rickshaws, scooters,\nbicycles, and pedestrians, all darting in and out of extremely small gaps in\ntraffic). As in LOTS of people and LOTS and LOTS of construction and LOTS of\nenergy. Somehow it all combines together into a positive, tangible buzz. There\nis a feel to this place – a palpable sense that this is a city that is on the\nmove.
  4. \n\n
  5. Mumbai is a place of startling juxtapositions. At the foot of a gleaming\ncorporate office building will be a shantytown. Adjacent to an eight-block\nsection of decrepit, decaying apartment buildings (that, of course, are packed\nwith residents) will be a shiny glass-and-marble shopping mall. Next to a\nfilthy, tin-roofed store selling tires (that appears to be held up only by the\nposters and ads affixed to its rickety wooden walls) will be a new high-end\nelectronics store selling HDTVs.
  6. \n\n
  7. For all of the possibility that is here, there's still an enormously long\nway to go. Mumbai and other parts of India may be on a tremendous upswing but\nthere are hundreds and hundreds of millions of people who are seeing little, if\nany, of the economic growth. That said, it's a numbers game. Even if only one or\ntwo hundred million people in a nation of over a billion join the Indian middle\nclass, the economic impact on the global economy will be quite substantial.
  8. \n\n
  9. Any tech plan that starts like this (as does the American School of Bombay's) is probably going to be pretty\nsuccesful:
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As our world becomes more technologically and globally interconnected,\nit's increasingly imperative that we all understand and plan how to facilitate\nstudent and faculty acquisition and mastery of 21st century skills. The 21st\ncentury isn't a time in the future; it is now.

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Have I said anything that hasn't been said before? Probably not. But I now\ncan feel in my gut a sense of what this city is like. In Flight\nof the Creative Class, Richard Florida notes that the\nbiggest danger facing the USA is not terrorism but rather that talented,\ncreative people will stop wanting to come to America. There are\nplaces for those people here in Mumbai (and in South Korea, Australia,\nSingapore, Ireland...). Tom\nFriedman is right: we Americans are going to have to get used to sharing the\nglobal stage.

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Scott's trip to Mumbai: pics at Flickr, movies at\nYouTube.

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