07 November 2010

perspectives: post-travel

Yes I know, this post has been a long time coming. I have been on blogging sabbatical and now I'm back. Over the past month I made a massive trip through Malaysia and IndoChina mostly on work. In Malaysia I attended the AFCSR and met a lot of eminent CSR personalities. It was all very exciting.

Vietnam and Cambodia were both a revelation. Cambodia was only 3-day break during the whole trip of networking and meeting people. So I stayed in a quaint little place in Siem Reap and visited the famous Angkor temples. The people in Cambodia are incredibly friendly and live in abject poverty. Yet for some reason, are more hopeful and optimistic than most Indians I know. I also noticed that even if they were poor, they weren't starving mostly because they grew their own vegetables and fished in the three large lakes in the town. Siem Reap is a gorgeously green little town and is under conservation in Cambodia. The country is not without problems; apart from the mentioned poverty, it also has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world.

The point of food self-sufficiency kept striking me as something obvious that every government should be striving for. The government of every developing country is moving in the opposite direction of introducing a centralized food production system that is taking away from something basic in the lives of most people.

My next stop was Vietnam. I was in Ho Chi Minh City which is very much like Mumbai. It is so much better planned, cleaner and developing at an unprecedented rate. However, unlike in India I saw a plan in their growth and development which was forward-thinking and heartening. Vietnam, like India is an SME-based economy and also many MNCs have entered the market, awareness of sustainability issues are not that high. However, I did have the chance to speak to a few people and through them I learnt that many companies are becoming more and more aware, which is encouraging.

Overall, the trip was fruitful and insightful especially in gaining new perspective about development in other countries. More to follow on here and also on Justmeans.

Photo: Akhila Vijayaraghavan © View of Saigon with the Saigon tower.

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