A recent session of the IMPM in India had a profound effect on one of the participants. Carole, from Gabon, was inspired to dedicate herself to trying to improve the whole economy of her country.
The focus of the session was the “worldly mindset” and India is an obvious place to gain an appreciation of what this means. Here, there are always worlds within worlds. For example, street carts hauling pieces of construction materials for small projects all over the city are alongside the new high tech parks with the latest in equipment. In the middle class neighborhoods with the BMW’s in front of the houses, there is also a man on the sidewalk with a coal heated iron, ironing shirts for his customers.
During their time in India and at the IMPM module, participants were inspired by transformative leaders such as Dr. H. Sudarshan. He is well known for the work he did improving the lives of the forest dwelling tribes of the Chamarajanagar district of Karnataka and this is where his heart is. However, he has also made a major impact on public health in India through his work as chairman of the Task Force on Health and Family and while on the Task Force on Public Private Partnership organised by National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) of the Government of India. In addition, he contributed to the Working Group 6 on Macro-economics & Health organised by the World Health Organization.
For Carole, this module had her reflecting on the similarities that she saw between India, Africa and her country. The question for her was how to apply the learning and have an impact when she returned to Gabon.
“The turning point of all the courses and classes was when we had the honor to meet Dr. Sudarshan. When he said he admires Albert Schweitzer, the founder of the first hospital in Lambaréné, my father’s hometown, I just couldn’t help but propose to him that he come to visit my country. I want him to relay his methods, his expertise and his know-how to as many people as possible in Lambaréné. I always seek what brings us together rather than what divides us, as far apart and different as we may be.”
In applying what Carole has learned from the 5 countries the IMPM has visited she says, “I am always skeptical about what is successful in India or China. Can we say that this is, or even can be applied, on a smaller scale in Africa, or at least in my country, Gabon?”
“Currently it is not the case. Is it the population? For the moment, yes, we are only 1.8 million inhabitants. But this is clearly not the only explanation. Is it because Gabon was colonized by the French instead of the English? The fact that we always depend on the Banque de France for our common currency in Central and Western Africa? Is it because we do not want to take our successes to a larger scale? Or is it that we do not want to be inspired by the best? “
As Carole goes back to Gabon she reflects on what she can do. “I do not know why Gabon or Africa has not seen the economic and social innovations that India and China have. But I do not resign myself. I chose to talk about what I learned at the IMPM. I chose to apply the methods I understood and I liked. I chose to talk and do. And try to inspire others around me, as I was inspired every day during this stay in Bangalore. I have not the right to stay down. I have no rights to let my mouth shut. I have responsibilities among my family, my children and my country because I can. I can flee my country whenever I want if the situation worsens. I can have a fresh new start in another country, another town if I choose to do so. How most of my fellow citizens cannot? I have to speak up. I have to teach what I learned and I have to do.
Am I afraid to do so? May be. May be not. Shall I do so? Why not? “
(Participants in the International Masters Program for Managers (IMPM) enjoyed their fifth and final module in Bangalore India January 15 to 25th 2017.)