Alistair McLeay: The Value of Reimagining India

Reflecting on the intensive month-long programme “Reimagining India” with IndoGenius, I am overwhelmed by how much I have learnt. From corporates to startups, historical sites to places of worship, slums to beaches, high commissions to universities, and planes to buses – I feel like I’ve seen it all in India. The thing is though, I haven’t – and that may be the biggest lesson I have taken away from India – that it is such an incredibly varied and diverse country, with a cultural depth that would take several lifetimes to understand. There is a saying that everything in India is true, and so is the opposite.

The last month has been the most immersive learning experience of my life, and the most valuable 4 weeks of my education to date (a big call I know). Nick and Meetu and the rest of the incredible team at IndoGenius have developed a truly incredible program to expose students to all India has to offer. I think it would probably take 10 years in India on my own before I gained the level of understanding of India that IndoGenius has given me in a month.

Not only is IndoGenius incredible, but so too is The Prime Minister’s Office and Education New Zealand for funding the experience. The New Zealand Government has recognised the importance of India to the world and Aotearoa moving forward. They have recognised this to the extent of funding 15 Kiwi students to go through the Reimagining India Programme, and I have no doubt their decision will pay huge dividends to New Zealand in the future. The Prime Minister’s Scholarships we received gives me a lot of hope for the future of our country – I believe it shows the government is making the right priorities in this area.

My experience has not only taught me all about India, but also about myself and how I fit into the world as a global citizen. It has shown me how New Zealand fits into the world. I now have an array of extra tools for navigating complex issues back in New Zealand, and have a totally new perspective of how our tiny island nation fits into the rapidly developing world in the East. New Zealand has a huge amount to offer the world – but without our young leaders understanding how we fit into the rest of the world – we risk getting left behind. I’d argue India will be the most important nation of the next two decades, and the New Zealand government has recognised this.

I am forever grateful for the experience I have been given, and have no doubt that I will go on to engage with India professionally throughout the coming decades.

Thank you India.

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