Insights From India: Day 4

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton’s dispatches from India as the setting moves from Mumbai to New Delhi

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 during an international symposium and then meet with the university’s International Advisory Council for Asia (IACA).

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: After a memorable trip to the airport and a quick trans-Indian flight, the trip continues to New Delhi, where the IACA meeting opens.

Dec. 13, 2012

Our McDonnell International Scholars Academy symposium on energy, environment and sustainability ended with an announcement that the next meeting of the academy partners would be in the fall of 2014 in St. Louis and on the campus of Washington University.

A roundtable session during the symposium detailing the collaborative education and research agenda attracted interest from international media.

A roundtable session with members of India media, together with Devang Khakhar, PhD, director of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT Bombay), and S. Parasuraman, PhD, director of the Tata Institute for Social Sciences, attracted much interest about our collaborative education and research agenda.

Dr. Khakhar and I announced that IIT Bombay and Washington University are in discussions to develop a joint Executive MBA degree that would be offered in Mumbai, and this has been received with much interest. Mumbai is a major business center and executives and their companies will benefit from having the first EMBA degree program in Mumbai.

With the conclusion of the academy partners meeting in Mumbai on Wednesday morning, we traveled to New Delhi for the meeting of our International Advisory Council for Asia (IACA).

Domestic air travel in India is not unlike that in the United States, but one difference is that the first security checkpoint is before you access the ticket counter to obtain a boarding pass, followed by typical bag security. At the security point, I bolted for the shortest line, put my bags on the conveyor belt, and proceeded to the metal detector only to be told that I was in a line for ladies only!

The two-hour flight operated just about on time and put us into a cool, dry New Delhi with a high temperature of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. On the ride to the Imperial Hotel from the airport we spied monkeys roaming on the streets … a common sight here!

The streets of New Delhi offered many interesting sights.

After an afternoon of interviews with members of the media to talk further about our EMBA announcement, our academy meeting in Mumbai, and Professor Gautaum Yadama’s book, Portraits of the Energy Impoverished: Fires, Fuel, and the Fate of 3 Billion, we opened our IACA meeting with a reception and dinner.

I welcomed our council members from across Asia and our academic leaders from St. Louis in a very special setting at a restaurant in the hotel. Our dinner was truly the best Indian and Thai food I have ever had: 12 different and very spicy dishes presented in a special setting, concluding with dessert, water chestnut with vanilla ice cream and sticky rice. For future reference, the restaurant is the Spice Route at the Imperial Hotel: I give it my highest rating for Indian and Thai cuisine!

The IACA was formed in the 1995-96 academic year, and the council members are largely alumni, parents and friends who live in Asia. The chair of the council is trustee David Conner, a St. Louisan and alum of Arts & Sciences, who has spent his professional career in Asia and now lives in Singapore. But at the founding of the IACA, he was president of CitiBank India. He has been a member of the IACA since its formation.

The agenda for the meeting is to provide an update on the university, its plans and aspirations, and to have our council members provide advice on how to best advance our objectives in Asia. Our IACA meetings led to the development of the McDonnell Academy, for example.

A dinner with alumni, parents, and friends who live in New Delhi is a highlight event in our program for the IACA — part of our effort to build our network of alumni around the world.

Day 1: The symposium opens

Day 2: Working on collaboration

Day 3: WUSTL’s global network expands