Insights From India​: Day 2

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton’s dispatches from India as WUSTL leads conference to address world’s energy issues

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton is in India this week with a group of Washington University in St. Louis leaders and members of the McDonnell Academy Global Energy and Environmental Partnership (MAGEEP) to first talk about global energy and environmental solutions and then meet with the university’s International Advisory Council for Asia.

He is writing a daily dispatch, relaying everything from insights gleaned from the symposium to the sights and sounds from one of the most exhilarating countries in the world.

Today’s post: The symposium continues, with a visit from a United Nations official, a working lunch with MAGEEP presidents, and a ride through the city to visit co-host university Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.

Dec. 11, 2012

Our Monday in India began with a most interesting session featuring Sujeesh Krishnan, special adviser to the United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Group on “Sustainable Energy for All,” a U.N. initiative that overlaps the theme of our symposium with the McDonnell Academy partners.

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton poses with symposium co-hosts Devang Khakhar (left), director of Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, and S. Parasuraman, director of Tata Institute of Social Sciences Bombay.

There is much interest among our partners to align our efforts with this U.N. initiative, and to work collaboratively to provide sustainable energy resources to all people. We have heard firsthand from leaders in India that tens of millions of people do not have access to electricity, a challenge that might be overcome by solar photovoltaic systems provided by Sun Edison/MEMC, one of the corporate sponsors of the McDonnell Academy.
Presidents and representatives of the presidents of the partners in the McDonnell Academy, met over a lengthy working lunch overlooking Mumbai on the top floor of our hotel. Our partner presidents are enthusiastic about continuing a focus on collaborative education and research related to energy, environment and sustainability. In addition, we are exploring additional collaboration themes related to global public health, food and water, and the aging global population. The next McDonnell Academy partners meeting is slated to be in St. Louis in the fall of 2014.

Traffic is a challenge in the city, but offers a real glimpse into life in Mumbai.

Our late afternoon and evening was spent on the campus of one of our co-hosts, the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. The drive to the campus was about 20 miles and took just over an hour, short for Mumbai!

But on that ride we saw every imaginable vehicle. Motor scooters carried complete families — including two young children and their parents! Traffic is a real challenge, and at times very chaotic and terrifying. Along the way we had glimpses of local life, from the very poor living in shanties to modern apartment buildings. We passed many open-air shops and markets and sometimes tremendous numbers of pedestrians.

Day 1: The symposium opens