ENIEC Member Jan Booij Organized Study Trip to India

by Jan Booij

After previous inspiring study trips to Morocco, Turkey, Iran, China, and Suriname, we organized a trip this year to a new destination: India!

India is one of the largest and most densely populated countries in the world. With its lush mix of traditions, spiritual beliefs, festivals, architecture and landscape India makes an indelible impression. The land is characterized by large contradictions: there are numerous population groups with their own habits and there are major differences between poverty-stricken and super-rich, between old-fashioned and modern and between urban areas and the countryside.

The study trip focused on care and welfare and also on the themes of technological development and ecology. We consciously seeked out these contrasts and visited various places in the south and southeast of India. We went to the big city of Bangalore, also called the Silicon Valley of India. This city works closely with the city of The Hague in the field of welfare, care and technological developments. We also visited Puducherry, the ancient capital of the French East Indies and Mahabalipuram.

This was an adventurous study trip with a lot of culture and inspiration, with the main objective of learning from and with each other. The journey turned out to be a roller coaster of impressions, with every cautious assumption on the following day already being challenged. In the Netherlands we face a number of complex social issues and  developments; super-diversity, mobility, technological developments, ecological considerations and the way in which we organize care and welfare. Important themes that not only come to play in the Netherlands but also beyond.

We made the trip with also two other ENIEC members. Thijs Vink has been a member for years, even though he has not yet been able to join us at Annual Meetings. Ram Ramlal is also known within ENIEC. Ram maintains economic relations with India on behalf of the municipality of The Hague. That made it easy for us to enter healthcare organizations such as Western hospitals and so-called Ayurvedic hospitals and elderly care organizations. Ayurveda is a traditional healing method native to the Indian subcontinent.

We always make the trips with a small group. The mutual conversations and discussions are of great value. ENIEC is always mentioned on such a study trip, because everywhere you can find elderly who migrated and who grow old far away from where the grew up. In India, you find a lot of internal migrants. Many of our trips participants are active for the elderly and work in different positions.