While in Mumbai, we visited the Elephanta Caves that are dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, the destroyer. Every carving except those of temple guards were devoted to him and he was always the centerpiece of the work. What intrigued me the most though was not Shiva himself, but everything else going on around him in the depictions. In the first work we saw, we were immediately introduced to the plethora of other deities and animals that always surround him. Shiva was depicted alongside Brahma, the creator and Vishnu, the maintainer. Brahma was shown with four heads, symbolizing the four cardinal directions of the Earth. Shiva is also often joined by his accompanying animal, a snake. Additionally, his wife, Parvati and her accompanying animal, Nandi the bull are often present around Shiva. Our tour guide informed us that you can’t talk about Shiva in isolation and understand the whole picture. All of these aforementioned deities and creatures around him were also essential to grasping the complete story. I found this statement to be analogous to the fact that if you talk about just one part of India you won’t even be able to being to understand the country as a whole. Additionally, the inclusion of several other entities in all of the works is representative of the complexity of the subcontinent.
By: Mary Beth Desrosiers
Today’s our last day in India. I am sad to leave, not just because it’s nine degrees in Charlottesville, although that is a factor. Amidst the American companies we’ve visited and the shared aspects of culture I’ve noticed, I will miss the chaos, quirkiness, and history that has made this a distinctly Indian experience. All of which I was able to experience in my last 24 hours in Mumbai.
When Natan and I awoke on the last day of our trip in Mumbai, we had no idea we would be meeting a famous Bollywood actor and cricketer. We spent all morning working on our market insights project so by the time we went downstairs to meet Jessica for our complimentary breakfast, the restaurant had closed. Luckily, we noticed a nearby sign stating, “Breakfast also available on roof” and we jetted back to the elevator in hopes that the rooftop restaurant had more college student-friendly hours. When we arrived, the scenic skyline of the city captivated us. We had never seen the City of Dreams from this altitude before. We quickly hopped into tourist mode and began taking pictures of each other standing in front of the rooftop restaurant’s windows. When we first sat down, very few other guests were still eating and we were able to enjoy our meal in a relatively quiet atmosphere. After chowing down on the delicious Indo-American breakfast and crushing three glasses of pineapple juice, I noticed a group of four guys wearing the exact same shirt enter the restaurant. It looked like a cricket jersey and I had the outlandish suspicion that they might be members of an Indian Premier League (IPL) team. I motioned Natan to look at them but we both decided they were probably just fans and brushed away the idea of them being professional players. However, as time went on, more and more fellows in blue jerseys entered the premises until I was positive they were a team of some sort. Natan made out the letters on their uniform to say something bulldozers. I immediately pulled out my handy dandy smartphone and Googled “IPL Bulldozers.” The search revealed that there was indeed a team named the Karnataka Bulldozers, although they weren’t part of the IPL. Rather, this squad competed in the Celebrity Cricket League (CCL), which as you probably guessed is composed of celebrities who compete in cricket competitions. I refined my search by looking up “Karnataka Bulldozers” this time and scrolling through the “images” section of Google. After browsing through a couple pictures of the team in their jerseys, I was able to verify that the party behind us was the same as the one on my iPhone. I finally stumbled upon a photo of a man that looked identical to one of the men eating a few feet away from us. As I showed Natan, one of the employees came over to our table to ask if we needed anything else. By this time, Bulldozers players filled the room and each one of their tables had several employees standing by and waiting to assist them. We asked the man attending to us to tell us about the cricketers. He explained that the man we had identified was Sudeep Sanjeev, better known as Sudeep, and was an actor as well as the Bulldozers’ captain. As Sudeep passed by us to get some juice, I quickly asked him if I could take a picture with him and the rest of his team once they had finished their meal. He agreed and after some time, the group had finished eating. We walked over towards the entrance of the hotel with him and the rest of the Karnataka team. I quickly reminded him of the picture and he yelled out to all of his colleagues who had left to come back to the restaurant because I wanted a photo. I was shocked how quickly they all returned without hesitating or complaining at all. He seemed to have an incredibly strong command over his team. After we took a few pictures together, I struck up a brief conversation with Sudeep and began asking him about what they were doing in Mumbai and whom they were playing. He informed me that they were going against the Bhojpuri Dabanggs the following day in a stadium not too far away from the hotel. I expressed my interest in cricket to him and explained that I was working on a project about the IPL (my market insights project). I asked him what he thought about other sports leagues in India attempting to emulate the IPL’s business model. He began expressing his love for cricket and why the IPL and the sport as a whole were so wonderful. We also chatted about how his team had performed in the last few years. He was happy to hear about an American taking interest in India’s most beloved sport and proceeded to offer me and Natan tickets for the next day’s match. We were blown away by his offering, but of course, we were flying out of the country and back home that night so we could not accept. While we were unable to see Sudeep and the Bulldozers play the next day, I thoroughly enjoyed this encounter and getting the chance to talk to him. In a nation that practically worships cricketers and Bollywood stars, I was fortunately able to meet a man who is both. This was without a doubt one of the most interesting experiences of my trip to India. Maybe next time I won’t be so star struck that I’ll look at the Bulldozers’ camera instead of Natan’s phone and end up looking like I wasn’t paying attention in all of the pictures he’s going to upload to Facebook over the next few days.
Educating consumers still pose as a big challenge for many companies in India, including P&G and Quikr. P&G is an $85 billion company, with 300 brands, 110,000 employees and operates in 1000 countries. One of the biggest brands for P&G in India is Pampers, a sector that equals $12 billion. With India’s 2014 population as 1.27 billion people, it is the second most populous country in the world. On addition to that, every year, 40 million additional babies are borne. However, because most babies are born in villages, consumers are unaware of the existence of baby diapers or the proper way to use them. Thus, the challenge P&G faces in the Indian market is educating those consumers. Vivek Sunder, Director of Commercial Operations at P&G states that if the Indian consumers used diapers “the American way”, the value of the Pampers brand would total to the entire P&G company itself. This just shows how far P&G can grow if it is able to fully tap into the market. Thus, P&G does a lot of direct marketing, going house to house to consumers to teach them the proper way to use diapers. They also market their products at hospitals to women who have just given birth about diapers.
Before coming to Mumbai, the big things I heard about the city were the slums. Thus, I expected the economic conditions of the city to be 10 times worse than Delhi. But what I saw was a lot different. Because Mumbai is the commerce centre of India, things are a lot more developed here than Delhi. There are more foreign cars; the city is fairly clean with less trash on the streets; there are less people sleeping on the streets; there are more paved roads and developed buildings; people are presentably dressed in clean clothes. The city definitely seems livelier and more organized than Delhi. There are more street signs, traffic lights, and pedestrian crosswalks. The fact that people can leisurely walk down sidewalks of the ocean bank to see the sunset or enjoy refreshments with friends shows the different lifestyle people share in Mumbai.
Many great cities can remain unchanged for many years. Some even seem to slip into an almost static state. Infrastructure stops expanding, as if the city were attempting to freeze itself in time, so as to hold onto its current greatness for all eternity. During my stay in Old Delhi, I felt as though the city had slipped into this static state, becoming a community lethargic in its attempts to modernize, vainly attempting to hold onto its once unparalleled prominence. But now, as we drive through the streets of Mumbai, I see a new kind of greatness, and, in comparison, the streets of Old Delhi seem much less magical.
As we ascended into the mountain, dogs scurried away from us and monkeys overlooked from the tree canopies. We entered into the stone-carved temple of “Elephanta” Island, a place of worship created by Hindu priests over one thousand years ago. Inside the cave were multiple statues of Shiva, “the destroyer,” carved into the walls of the cave, each statue existing as part of a scene in a play, portraying the story Shiva. As our orator walked us through the epoch, she pointed out how Brahma, “the creator,” and Vishnu, “the preserver,” were always present somewhere in the scene, although Shiva was at the center stage.
Proctor and Gamble, 110,000 employees and 85 Billion dollars. Two numbers that indicate the dominance P&G has had over well, really the world. P&G is a giant in the FMCG product world and one that should be admired for its ability to stay relevant across many economic platforms. We met a man named Vivek Sunder who was a long time friend on Professor Cheema and is the CCO in India. A man who by all accounts was the most self-aware of what the global landscape was for all FMCG products, most likely due to his work done in many countries. He could speak a multitude of languages and took a very simple approach to every challenge he faced at P&G.
I want to write this blog in a different perspective. I want to write about what I see and nothing more. No subjective understanding, prior knowledge, or external subliminal messaging. I want to take a raw perspective that just simply views the world with open and ignorant eyes. I often believe people view new countries, places, or people with an understanding in one way or another of where they are, the culture ties to the place they see, what race a person is, and many other involuntary units of measure. Very few times in my life have I really kept my eyes completely open to what’s around me and I want to try to do that right now.
By Mary Langan
Since I first learned about the J-term trip to India, I have been looking forward to the Procter & Gamble company visit. P&G has such recognizable, iconic brands for us Americans, so I was looking forward to seeing them in a new context with new challenges. Our group met with Mr. Vivek Sunder, the Director of Commercial Sales in India, who gave us some great insights into P&G’s operations in the Indian market.