New Delhi, April 1 (IANS) The only India that 22-year-old Saudi student Kholoud Bakr had seen was in Bollywood movies laced with song and dance. But after a 10-day stay in the country, Kholoud feels she has seen the "technological face of India" she had never imagined about.
One of the 40 members of a youth delegation from Saudi Arabia on a visit to India, Bakr is amazed to see the use of information technology (IT) at the country's technology hubs.
"All that I knew about India was what I had seen in Bollywood movies. But after coming here and visiting the universities and IT centres, I am amazed at the will power and level of technology that has penetrated into Indian society," Bakr, a management student, told IANS.
"We might have come from a different cultural background and society, but the determination among the younger generation to bring in change connects us with Indian youth," she added.
Saudi youth are "opening their minds to progress and equal youth involvement", was what many of the delegation members said.
Clad in colourful embroidered thobes with their heads covered, women stood equal to men as they came from diverse backgrounds such as science, management and IT. Led by the country's Deputy Minister for Economic and Cultural Affairs Yousef Terad Al Saadon, the team has been here since March 22 and has visited Hyderabad and Bangalore before coming here.
Technology was not the only highlight of the visit as 26-year old Saudi student Aisha Bashayan feels she experienced the role of young women to be very crucial in development.
"Women are change agents across the world. But in reference to Saudi Arabia and India, I got to see how their voice is emerging stronger with each passing day in the course of development," Bashayan, who was on her second visit to India, told IANS.
Her friend Kholoud Bakr echoes her sentiments: "I am a Saudi woman travelling alone, trying to bring about a change. What does this say about gender equality?"
"It is by culture and choice that womenfolk cover their heads. But when there is determination to work for the country, gender does not matter," Bakr speaks in an assertive tone even as her team members listen closely.
The men were also dressed in traditional thobes.
The Saudi delegation, after hours of interaction with students from the capital's Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology (NSIT), exchanged ideas on tele-medicine and tele-education.
"It was great to know from Saudi youth that they think of issues like democracy, corruption, gender. We engaged in several interaction with Saudi youth and came across several lessons that we can learn from each other," Mohit Sharma, a student from NSIT, told IANS after meeting with the Saudi delegation.
The delegation travelled to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in Bangalore and the Indian School of Business, among others, in Hyderabad to gain a first-hand account of the progress made by Indian institutions and universities.
(Madhulika Sonkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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