Tag Working in India

R2I Return to India 2010 – 2012: Prashant’s conclusions

I’m glad that we returned to India (R2I) and have a verdict on the R2I experiment. In the summer of 2012, we are moving to America.

Why R2I didn’t work out – the important stuff


Corporate client visit, KolkataClient way too happy while I work in the background, Delhi

Immediately after returning to India, I started and ran a web design consulting company and helped startups with their product definition, branding and design. One of these was listed as a top 10 startup to watch in India by a major publication. Another one is getting good traction with VCs. We are very proud of them. Starting and running a consulting business in India was challenging on 2 fronts:


Finding people with the right skillsets was extremely difficult. We spent 2 hours daily looking for candidates. Mostly, they failed in having usable domain skills. We tried several permutations – hiring from other industries (print, advertising), hiring from universities directly, poaching seniors from competitors. We got a strong team together but at some point I realized that it would be increasingly harder for us to find more talented people. This was the single biggest obstacle to scaling the business and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

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Working in India: Studying government hospitals in rural Rajasthan and Jharkhand, India

Updated February 10, 2011 with Jharkhand details

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Gurgaon Railway Station is in the old part of the city One of the better potholed roads of rural India Goats pretend to have right of way on the way to Malpura Government hospital in Deoli, Rajasthan Dining area in Rajmahal Palace Hotel, Rajasthan, India Minor operation theater in Malpura Government Hospital Delivery table in Deoli Government Hospital, Deoli, Rajasthan, India Temperature controlled baby cot in Deoli Government Hospital, Deoli, Rajasthan, India The general ward, Deoli Government Hospital, Deoli, Rajasthan, India Ambulance without any medical facilities, Deoli, Rajasthan, India 108 Ambulance with medical facilities, Deoli, Rajasthan, India Segregated bins for medical waste, Rajasthan, India

The Job

My first project at Deloitte India started a few weeks after moving to Gurgaon. The team is working with an international donor organization and the Government of India to assess public hospitals across 4 impoverished Indian states. Our job is to understand the current state of affairs and implement targeted improvements over 2 years.

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R2I highlights – 60 days after moving to India from USA

  • I bribed a traffic official $2.13 (Rs.100) at the airport to watch my car so I could run into the terminal and fetch my lost American friend
  • Meenal watched and graded the delivery of a baby (failing grade) as well as a sterilization (near perfect score) in a government hospital in rural Rajasthan
  • A grandmother in the labor room wished that her newborn granddaughter die leaving Meenal speechless. This was the fifth girl in the family as they had been trying to get a son.
  • Our $4000 car needed $650 (Rs.30,000) in major repairs due to a missing drain cover inside our apartment complex
  • We’ve visited family and friends in Mumbai (Bombay), Kolkata (Calcutta), Ajmer (Rajasthan) and several parts of Delhi and enjoyed most of it
  • We’ve learnt to drive on Delhi roads – send a confident ‘don’t cross’ message when you spot pedestrians, beware of vehicles bigger than you, and don’t take people cutting you off personally
  • When I want a glass of water, I have caught myself looking around for the housekeeper
  • We’ve attended several weddings – an experience so boring that I’m contemplating a complete ban on all future attendance
  • After we caught 2 rats in the air conditioning ducts, we’ve experienced no further visits a revisit from the rodent
  • We came very close to fatal traffic accident and each of the 5 passengers treated the incident as a minor annoyance

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What will it take to make us like India after moving back?

Relationships: Sailing with family in Mumbai harbourPHOTO: Sailing with family in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai Harbor, India

Meenal and I are experimenting living in Delhi for a year. At the end of the year, we’ll decide if we want to commit to India longer.

HOW will we decide if we like India or not?

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Work culture in India is weak compared to America

Cyber city in DLF Phase 2, Gurgaon, Haryana where many MNCs in India have officesPHOTO: Cyber city in DLF Phase 2, Gurgaon, Haryana where many MNCs in India have offices

I had heard that employees in India change jobs very often. Having been here for a month, I’m beginning to see some of the reasons for all the job hopping.

My opinions below are derived from conversations and experiences with several professionals across various MNCs in India.

The Employee Perspective

At the entry/mid-management level, a 2-year career with the same company is considered long. Employees are constantly on the lookout for another job and are sometimes actively poached by competitors. I’m told this is because there are substantially fewer “qualified” people than there are jobs. And with more and more MNCs growing their operations in India, this problem is expected to get worse.

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Healthcare consulting feels meaningful after 3 weeks of working in India

Badami, Karnataka 2002As healthcare consultants in India, we work a lot with the government and institutions such as the United Nations to bring basic healthcare facilities to the poor. And by “basic” I really do mean basic – 24×7 support for deliveries, care for newborns, immunization clinics, emergency care, blood storage units, etc. Next week, I will make my first business trip to a village to assess a public hospital that serves thousands of people but may not have the ability to do c-sections.  Our deliverables – assess the hospital, develop a plan to offer the various kinds of care expected from district level hospitals, and finally execute the plan over the next few years.

In the U.S., our contributions felt more indirect and due to a mature market, the problems we attempted to solve were more “first world”. Our solutions probably affected fewer people and were incremental and evolutionary. In India, our contributions have the potential of being very impactful – bringing healthcare services where there weren’t any or dramatically raising the quality of care provided. The large population exponentially multiplies the effect of our successes or failures.

India is so different from the U.S.

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First day at work after R2I in Deloitte India

November 15th, 2010

My first day in the Delhi office. A little anxious, a little excited…I was ready to meet new people and begin my professional experiment in India.

7:15 am – 9:00 am: Commute

I finally understand why office hours start late in India. The typical commute to work:

  • 7:15 am – take a rickshaw to the company van service stop
  • 7:30 am – board the ‘company shuttle’
  • Snooze for 1.5 hours with head bobbing violently
  • 9:00 am – arrive at the office

The company shuttle – Most companies contract with private van services to ferry all their employees to work from most parts of the city. For some companies, this is their second biggest expense after real estate and ahead of wages. The shuttles carry 4-8 people from each area and are feared on the roads because of their rash driving – by the other not so gentle drivers of Delhi!

Thankfully, my commute is a tad better than this typical commute.

Traffic jam with a thousand company vans waiting in DLF Cyber City, Gurgaon, HaryanaPHOTO: Traffic jam with a thousand company vans waiting in DLF Cyber City, Gurgaon, Haryana

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