India – Seeing is Believing!
By Jack York, President/Co-Founder, It’s Never 2 Late
Sensory overload… has that happened to you lately? If it hasn’t I suggest a visit to India!
Earlier this year Katie Smith Sloan, Global Ageing Network executive director, invited me to speak at the International Conference on Services to the Elderly in Hyderabad, India. I immediately jumped at the chance to participate, both in the context of learning about aging services in another part of the world, and also to visit a majestic country so steeped in our world’s history. And the experience exceeded my expectations on both fronts!
The conference, and the people I met there, was enlightening on many levels. The leader of the conference, Dr. K R Gangadharan, was the ultimate host, both culturally and professionally. He made all of us from outside India feel at home in his venue. And the savvy way that he changed schedules, moved speakers around, choreographed the whole event, he should lead the United Nations!
The local Indian speakers he lined up were fascinating, people such as:
Mr. Anand Katoch, Director, National Institute of Social Defence, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
Mr. Marcus Riley, Chair, Global Ageing Network
Prof. S Siva Raju, Deputy Director, Tata Institute of Social Sciences Hyderabad
The conference touched on issues that impact the world; dementia, disparate incomes and its impact on health services, isolation, funding, etc. Robust discussions and passionate ideas flowed freely through the exchanges. Dr. Ganga did an excellent job of energizing passionate younger people to attend. It was also interesting to see the role technology is playing throughout the world in looking at solutions to benefit older adults.
I loved the conference, and learned from experts around the globe. But a few weeks later, as I recap my time there, nothing compared to the experience that came from immersing myself for a few short days into the Hyderabad culture… now that was a once in a lifetime experience.
So it was 4 short days, but hundreds of lifelong memories.
I was able to visit the Sisters of the Poor, where I met an enchanting group of women taking on the world’s problems, without complaint, one rupee at a time. I was able to grab 3 young gentlemen as they left a nightclub in downtown Hyderabad and talked them into skyping some residents at a Front Porch community in California. I was able to dine on spectacular local food, meet people speaking broken English who all exuded such passion and excitement to learn about the U.S.
I was able to shop, breathe the air, inhale the energy of an exquisite culture.
So thank you to the Global Ageing Network for connecting our worlds, thank you Dr. Ganga for your hospitality. I hope I was able to convey a little about the world of possibilities for ageing in a county as diverse and complex and colorful as India.