Pratham – 33 million kids taught to read!

What a great gala dinner! Unsurpassed this year, Reita Gadkari, Priyanka Gill and their team pulled out all the stops, despite wariness amongst their core base of donors from the hedge fund / private equity world in London, they probably raised about £500K to expand Pratham’s reach in India.

Like with most such events, its difficult to gauge what the audience reaction to speeches will be, and this was no different. Yes, they were dry and long but importantly, the line-up showed the importance given to Pratham’s agenda to teach kids how to read and write in India’s back & beyond.

Of course, its common for events of this kind to have a sprinkling of star power, but Pratham – obviously not content with a few – wheeled out the biggies from the London scene, some of whom have avoided such events for quite some time.

The basic point being made, even by Suhel Seth, who’s wit struggled slightly on stage (unlike his Twitter feed), was that despite her upward trajectory, India should remain focused on delivering inclusive growth – one which takes almost 40% of its population, considered illiterate, to enjoy the fruits of India’s economic dividends in the same manner as those sitting in their ivory towers in Delhi and Mumbai.

All in all, a great effort, and an enjoyable evening.

Bollywood leads the way…

With India being all the rage in London at the moment, it was probably quite apt that the Confederation of Indian Industry’s Business Leaders Summit concluded with ICICI Bank hosting an entertainment extravaganza in their honour with Shah Rukh Khan – bollywood superhero.

Vijay Mallya, Naresh Goyal, Deepak Puri, Suhel Seth et al rubbed shoulders with their contemporaries in London to the tune of some of Bollywood’s best loved songs (as performed by SRK).

In a Q&A response, Shah Rukh reiterated that whilst Hollywood is perceived as the epicentre of films, the Indian film industry isn’t far behind and he didn’t aspire to act in Hollywood.

When delivering intercultural training programmes for Western corporates (through our India Briefing Centre), we ensure that the participants watch a 15 min slice of a Hindi film. Just by watching these clips, your senses become accustomed to the huge gulf in western and eastern cultures. Apart from the singing, dancing and overdramatized action scenes, Bollywood flicks play a central role in shaping the identities of global Indians.

Ignore them at your peril.