New research collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi
On the 2nd April, Araz Zirar and I (Ursula Davis, pictured below with Dr Choudhary and Professor Shankar, front row middle) had the opportunity to visit the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Delhi. Our host was the newly appointed Honorary Visiting Professor in Decision Sciences, Professor Ravi Shankar, and what a wonderful and attentive host he was.
The main focus of our visit was to take part in a two-day workshop entitled “Decision Sciences for Sustainable Business”, where research was shared and discussed between ourselves and doctoral research students from IIT.
The workshop showcased the range of research including food security, sustainable freight transportation, energy efficiency, big data analytics, Industry 4.0 and resilient supply chains being undertaken in the Department for Management Science at IIT, and it was a success with many relationships formed.
During our time at IIT we learned much about the Indian culture and especially the academic culture, where doctoral researchers are welcomed into something resembling a family.
We engaged in many discussions with scholars, from methodology to practical importance, and we were able to gain an understanding of the ongoing research and discuss a number of potential research directions.
IIT provided the perfect platform to share different intellectual insights and help develop potential research questions. As a result, we were able to develop a couple of research questions linked to our PhDs, which we take forward to sustain our collaboration.
Whilst the workshop was the focus, the real highlight was the cultural experience we had! After several days of research-orientated work, we had the pleasure of being taken on a tour of New Delhi. It is incredible how much culture resides in the capital, and even more incredible how much we managed to see in one day: Qutab Minar (an incredible 73m tower whose true purpose is shrouded in mystery), Lotus temple (the last temple of the Bahai in the world) and Humayun’s tomb (our favourite location and the inspiration for the Taj Mahal).
As the sun was beaming down on us, we continued our day’s sightseeing with a visit to the Red Fort, an impressive structure built to protect the Mughal inhabitants, where local children treated us as minor celebrities asking for photographs.
Before visiting Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India, we stopped for lunch in Karim’s which is said to be one of the best restaurants in the area. We visited a number of other locations including Jantar Mantar, the Railway museum and then the impressive Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, a truly impressive once residence turned Gurudwara, named after the eighth Sikh Guru. Exposure to the Sikh religion was incredible, for this is a site of holy pilgrimage, and there were countless people dipping into the water.
We finished the day at India Gate, an impressive war memorial commemorating the lives lost of Indian soldiers in the First World War. The horde of people congregating at the base of this structure was fascinating, highlighting just how important culture and history is in India.
After a long day shrouded in culture we were tired yet enthralled. Rightly so, as the following day we took the three-and-a-half hour journey to Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal. It is as you would expect, indescribable and unfathomably stunning. Undoubtedly one of the most impressive, and symmetrical, structures I have ever seen. The detailing of the white marble was beautiful, it is easy to see how this is a story of love, for years of devotion went into its construction.
Having basked in the beauty of the Taj Mahal we travelled to Agra Fort, another impressive red sandstone structure built to protect its inhabitants when Agra was once the capital of India. Standing on the balcony and looking out, you can see the Taj Mahal in the distance, and looking to the Emperor Jahangir’s seat you can see a large crack where it was rumoured a British canon was fired and the canon ball cracked the bench, bounding off and hitting the wall of the nearby structure.
We were truly lucky to have had the opportunity to visit such a welcoming group of people, to experience their culture, make lasting relationships and learn how PhD students survive in the heat! We are extremely grateful to both Loughborough University and to IIT Delhi for facilitating this visit, as well as to the Loughborough University Doctoral College for providing funding to this international exchange programme, and we look forward to welcoming visiting IIT students in the future.
This Blog post was written by Ursula Davis, a doctoral student in the Management Science and Operations discipline group. Ursula can be reached on email@example.com