After a very long trip and stopover in Dubai, I finally reached Ahmedabad India. I managed to have a few hours of sleep before heading out the first factory of my trip.
India is so different. In every way, India is different. I always thought, coming from a 3rd-world country and growing up around millions of other South Africans of Indian decent, that I would find many similarities between the two countries. How wrong I am. Although India is also racked with poverty and a myriad of other structural challenges, the culture is very well-suited for development – especially in Engineering.
The country I visited, no names mentioned I’m afraid, is the largest and one of the oldest design and manufacturing companies in India. Their facilities are simply astounding. They have a HUGE factory, in house testing facilities that put my university lab to shame. Every machine-operator has a mechanical engineering diploma and every designer a masters degree! They create customised designs for the customer’s specific purpose and their quality systems are world-class.
The only thing they can still work on is their safety. Unbelievably, you will find people sitting on moving cranes, or dodging forklifts as more people mill about. This is something that would be unheard of in SA as our safety procedures are paramount. Strangely enough, nobody has been hurt despite this reckless outlook on occupational health and safety. But its the same all over India. You just have to be driven through the streets, witnessing women perched on the back of a motorcycle carrying 2 or even 3 others, children and men literally hanging onto the back of riskshaws while hooting cars and trucks whizz by, gapping through traffic! It is a crazily horrifying and at the same time exhilarating experience.
The other thing is the weather. Trust me to have a snazzy haircut the week before coming to India during Monsoon Season! Wow, what a mistake – between the heat and the humidity, the hair never stood a chance.
Well I have most of the day tomorrow free before my flight to China – so I guess I’ll get to squeeze in some sight-seeing after all!
Oh – and did I mention how awesomely chivalrous and helpful everyone is? I could definitely get used to this!