MBA@UNC Immersion: Mumbai, India - Day Two

Offered four times per year, MBA@UNC Global Immersions are unique opportunities for students to meet in some of the business world’s most important cities, confer with top professors and industry leaders, and collaborate with their fellow students to apply what they have learned to real-life challenges. On day two of the Mumbai immersion, MBA@UNC visited Dharavi, India’s largest slum and the third largest in the world.

Session One: "Dharavi Tour"

A visit to Dharavi provided MBA@UNC students an in-depth view to India’s largest slum. Students were exposed to an intricate network of businesses that created a supply chain unlike any they’d experienced before. The visit challenged existing perceptions while also exhibiting a surprisingly optimistic view of the strength of this tight-knit community.

Session Two: "Reinventing Dharavi"

Amita Bhide, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

About our speaker: Amita Bhide is a professor and chairperson at the Centre for Urban Planning and Governance, School of Habitat Studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Her research has focused on evaluative research of several policies pertaining to the urban poor. Bhide has worked on housing rights movements in Mumbai and other regional towns.  

Student View

Nico Bateman, Class of 2016

After this trip, I believe that Dharavi is an economic success story that every person and business can learn from. The people of Dharavi have three main characteristics:

  1. Efficiency: Much of their raw material is trash from the street, which they are able to recycle into a wide variety of products. This is a great lesson for anybody who works with limited resources and is unsure about ways to maximize their use.
  2. Synergy: People in Dharavi look out for each other. Due to lack of support from the government and other organizations, they have found that through synergy they will lead better lives. Regardless of ethnic background or religious affiliation, the people of Dharavi work together to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
  3. Growth Mindset: The people of Dharavi do not limit themselves to the conditions in which they were born. Instead, they work hard to find the right resources and put in extra effort into sharpening their abilities. A perfect example is Shailesh, our tour guide. Shailesh is a school teacher in the community who was just accepted to a chemistry PhD program. Shailesh has lived most of his life in Dharavi, but that never discouraged him from pursuing his goals.

Following the trip, we had the privilege to meet with Amita Bhide, who has a major role in helping to develop slums around Asia. Dr. Bhide explained how development of places like Dharavi should not be seen as an opportunity to make a profit. Instead, one should contribute to communities like Dharavi without looking for something in return.

If we step aside and let residents design their own future, they may surprise the world in unimaginable ways.

Read about day one in Mumbai.