April 1, 2007

Huskies, Huskies Everywhere

By Office of the President

Perhaps the most fun I have when traveling for the University is in conversation with alumni and visiting faculty. Across India I have chatted with proud Huskies from the class of ’59 to the class of ’99 and Indian faculty who have worked on our campuses within the past few months or 25 years ago. They are all very pleased to hear the latest news from the UW and share their own stories with obvious pride and pleasure. Just as it is for American students, their time spent at the UW transformed their lives and opened a new world of opportunities to them.Â

To a person, they love Seattle and the Northwest and hope for return visits. Many maintain the friendships made there. The business connections with Washington are robust, to say the least. The great influence of international connections is on full display here in India.

It is inspiring to see the impact of our university on the other side of the planet. To learn about the successes of our alumni as leaders in business and in their communities is great fun. And to hear the respect Indian faculty have for the UW and our faculty they have worked with is doubly so. It’s always great to be a Husky.

No Fault Insurance – Mumbai Style

India inherited many things from the British. One of them is a system of governance driven by federal and state bureaucracies. But if the British brought bureaucracy to the subcontinent, it was the Indians who raised it to an entirely different level of complexity.

This also applies to the court systems, which I have been told are horribly slow and ponderous. Indeed, they are so convoluted that day-to-day issues that would wind up in a U.S. courtroom simply will not be taken to the judicial system.

So how does one deal with such matters?  Creative, negotiated settlements seem to be the rule of the day. In conversations with a group of UW alumni, I was told of how fender-benders in Mumbai are handled.

When an accident occurs, the participants simply get out of their vehicles and settle the matter right there on the street, exchanging cash or other consideration rather than insurance cards and lawyers’ phone numbers. Seeing as how this is the world’s biggest democracy, all nearby observers typically join in the “negotiations,” offering whatever opinions they have, usually at full voice. The result is a loud, sometimes big, roadblock until the matter is resolved to something resembling mutual agreement (or at least until someone gives in).

Hearing these tales, I thought perhaps my Indian hosts were exaggerating a little to impress their gullible guest. But as we were driving later that day, we happened upon a minor accident between a three-wheeled cab and a small car. Just as described, the participants where standing in the street loudly arguing their cases as a crowd gathered round to serve as the impromptu “jury.”  It was a great scene, but I was happy we could pass by.Â

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