“Incredible India” is the Government of India’s international marketing tagline, and it is spot on. But when Acara travels to India, the question is not which Himalayan peak to summit. It is, “How can business be used to impact the grand societal and environmental challenges of the 21st Century?”
In May 2014, Acara sought to gain further insights into this question through our most recent study abroad program. We spent three eye-opening weeks in Bangalore, India with 14 University of Minnesota students from engineering, business, public health and design. We were there to discover challenges at the nexus of community development, infrastructure, and environment, as well as the entrepreneurial venture solutions that India’s change makers are passionately pursuing.
During many long days in India, we interacted with executives from various social ventures diving deep into Bangalore’s unsightly locales: jam-packed roads, reeking garbage dumps, bustling scrap markets, flowing wastewater treatment facilities, and numerous “slum” communities that house many of the city’s low-income workers. We also spent time learning about rural development issues in villages. Through field visits, we discovered not only about India’s intriguing culture, delicious food, and vibrant history, but also about issues ranging from water access (or lack thereof) in slums to solid waste challenges to women’s livelihoods in rural villages. This is the real incredible India!
Brian Bell is assistant program director of Acara at the Institute on the Environment, as well as network coordinator of IMNPACT Angels and member of the Minneapolis Hub of Global Shapers. When not facilitating Acara teams, Brian enjoys traveling to developing regions, cycling around the Twin Cities and cooking international eatables.
Banner photo: The challenges of rural India drive thousands upon thousands of villagers to seek opportunities in urban India, leading to overpopulated and overstressed urban environments. All photos courtesy of Brian Bell.