We had a full day of cultural and historical learning today. Our main learning methods were readings, visiting some sites with an Indian guide and an evening discussion. We learned quite a bit about how Islam came to India when we visited the largest mosque in Delhi (Jama Masjid), the tomb of a Muslim family that ruled India for over 250 years (Humayun’s tomb) and Qutb minar. Islam is the second largest religion in India, behind Hinduism. We learned a little bit about Hinduism from our guide (who is Hindu) and from visiting a large Hindu temple named Chhaterput Temple. India is one of the most religious countries in the world. It seems like everybody is religious here… and there are many religions to choose from. We also learned a little bit about India’s modern history when we visited Gandhi’s cremation site name Raj Ghat.
Over dinner (India takeout in our hotel) we reflected on some historical difference between India and the USA and how those difference might influence different worldviews. Certainly India’s history is more hierarchical (2000 years of emperors, and the caste system) and this perhaps leads to different views on authority. We also observed that due to different histories, India and USA have different types of racial and ethnic diversity. India might look less diverse (no big immigrations or forced slavery in the past several hundred years), but is likely very diverse due to some sharp regional differences and languages. Finally, even though many American’s are not Christians, the dominate view in the USA of who a human being is comes from the Christian context (created in the image of God, one shot life, etc.), whereas the dominate view of who a person is in India is probably quite different (reincarnation, etc.). We agreed we need to be pretty alert over the next few weeks to learn more about what it means to be Indian. We also have some readings coming up on this to help organize our thinking.
Sorry no pictures today. I’ll have some tomorrow.
Tomorrow we will spend most of the day with a retailing expert to learn more about how things get from producer to consumers in India. We haven’t seen any Walmarts or Walgreens here, and no UPS and FedEx trucks. How does this work in India?