LIFE Program
Social Change & Leadership Development
In Israel and India

LIFE in India

"There are some parts of the world that, once visited, get into your heart and won't go. For me, India is such a place. When I first visited, I was stunned by the richness of the land, by its lush beauty and exotic architecture, by its ability to overload the senses with the pure, concentrated intensity of its colors, smells, tastes, and sounds."


Keith Bellows
(Editor-in-chief, National Geographic Society)
While you will experience a week in Mumbai as a part of the LIFE program as well as have a total of three weeks of vacation/free time to explore the country, you will be living and working in Hyderabad, India.

LIFE in Hyderabad

LIFE takes place in Hyderabad because it is arguably the capital of social innovation in India, and thus in the entire world.  In fact, the NGOs in Hyderabad that LIFE has partnered with are featured as case studies, or their programs are mentioned in the most influential publications about social change such as Stanford Innovation Review and McKinsey, focusing, for example, on how successful public/private partnerships are created or how the corporate world’s standards have impacted non-profit sectors.  The presence of many of India’s top hi-tech firms, a major hi-tech city on Hyderabad’s outskirts and major Indian universities (including its best business school) and an international-class airport all contribute to this phenomena.

In addition, Hyderabad makes a great city for cultural immersion since very few Westerners live in the city. And while English is spoken in the workplace and by the educated workers, on the street level you’ll get to interact with the locals and learn to communicate even when there is no language in common. As in the large Indian cities, extreme poverty and the most seemingly intractable social problems co-exists with fine restaurants and excellent medical services.

LIFE’s Apartment in Hyderabad

Our living arrangements in Hyderabad are comfortable, but not luxurious. Past participants have really enjoyed the living arrangements and living with the group in a shared apartment.  The apartment is located in an area in which you'll feel comfortable and safe, even if you are returning home late at night. The apartment includes all basic amenities and wireless internet. You’ll have clean, safe drinking water available to cook with, drink and take with you. You’ll have the opportunity to shop for your own groceries and cook your own food – and we can even arrange Indian cooking lessons so you can eat like the locals at home as well.

Every day in India is an adventure, so once you leave the familiar confines of your apartment, expect to be surprised and intrigued because you are most certainly in a different culture.

General Information about Hyderabad

Hyderabad was founded in 1591 although archaeologists have unearthed Iron Age sites near the city that could date back to 500 BCE. Today, the city's population has reached well over 4.0, with the population of the metropolitan area estimated at above 6.3 million.  Hyderabad is India's 6th most populous cities.  

Located at the crossroads of North and South India, Hyderabad has developed a unique metropolitan culture that is reflected in its population, language and architecture. Hyderabad's residents are adherents to a wide range of religions, predominantly Hinduism (55.40%), Muslims (40.17%) and others including Christianity (2.13%), Sikhism (0.2%) and Jainism (0.4%).There are many iconic temples, mosques, and churches situated in the city.(see also: Hyderabadi Muslims). Muslims have substantial presence across the city and are predominant in and around Old City.

Hyderabad has developed into one of the major hubs for the information technology industry in India which has earned it the additional sobriquet "Cyberabad". In addition to the IT industry, various biotechnology and pharmaceutics companies have set up their operations in Hyderabad owing to its established Public Sector in Life Science Research and Genome Valley. The city is home to the Telugu Film Industry, which is among the largest in India, known popularly as Tollywood. Residents of Hyderabad are generally called Hyderabadis.

Geography

Hyderabad is located in central Andhra Pradesh and is spread over an area of 260 square kilometers. The city, situated on the Deccan Plateau, has an average elevation of about 536 meters above sea level (1,607 ft). Most of the area has a rocky terrain and some areas are hilly. Crops are commonly grown in the surrounding paddy fields.

The original city of Hyderabad was founded on the southern banks of the river Musi, now known as the historic Old City, home to the Charminar and Mecca Masjid. The heart of the city saw a shift to the north of the river, with the construction of many government buildings and landmarks there, especially south of the Hussain Sagar lake. The rapid growth of the city, along with the merging of Hyderabad, 12 municipal circles and the Cantonment has resulted in a large, united and populous area.

Climate

Hyderabad has a unique combination of a tropical wet and dry climate that borders on a hot semi-arid climate, with hot summers from late February to early June, the monsoon season from late June to early October and a pleasant winter from late October to early February. The climate of Hyderabad remains fairly warm through most parts of the year and does not receive much rainfall in the monsoon. With the onset of winters in North and central parts of India, temperatures marginally come down in the months of December and January and the nights become quite cool in and around the Hyderabad city. During the summer months, the mercury goes as high as 42°C while in winters the minimum temperature may come down to as low as 12°C. June to November are the months of monsoons, accompanied by rains. During the Monsoons also the temperature goes down at times. Thus, for most parts of the year the weather and climate of Hyderabad remains fairly moderate and you can visit the Hyderabad city anytime in the year but the best season to visit Hyderabad is between October-February. These are the exact months that the LIFE program works in Hyderabad.
 

Tourism in Hyderabad

Hyderabad is gaining a reputation for its high-end cultural and tourism attractions. In fact, the New York Times had this to say when including Hyderabad in its list of top places to visit in 2011:

Hyderabad, India - Dynastic grandeur in the heart of modern India.

Even in the 16th century, Hyderabad, in southern India, famous for its diamond trade and sultans’ palaces, was a city with serious bling. In the last decade, a new sort of wealth has arrived — the outsourcing of international companies, which has inspired a boom of sleek cafes and restaurants such as Fusion 9.

The latest buzz is the debut of two five-star hotels, both connected to the Nizam family, rulers of Hyderabad for the two centuries before India’s independence. The first, Park Hyderabad, is a futuristic structure designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, with an aluminum and glass facade inspired by the settings and metalwork found in the Nizams’ jewelry collection. The new Taj Falaknuma Palace, on the other hand, is a window into the past. It’s a wedding cake of a building that still belongs to the Nizam family, and it took the Taj Hotels group 10 years to renovate the European-style castle. “The Falaknuma Palace will complete the Indian palace tour for the south,” said Shanti Kohli, of New Delhi-based Amber Tours. “It makes a trip to Hyderabad worthwhile just on its own.”

For more low-budget offerings, see the Government Tourism website: http://www.aptourism.in/tourists-site/index-tourist.html

(Sources include Wikipedia)