India. Those five letters changed my life forever. It was 1979 and my job as a Pan Am crewmember led me to that enormous country at least twice a month. It was here a 9-year-old girl taught me the act of gift giving and hospitality is this nation's most valuable resource. Each time I ventured into the cottage-industry district of New Delhi, young Samantha tagged along escorting me through the market stalls of silks, hand-woven rugs and brass trinkets.
In time, a friendship grew, as did the number of small tokens we exchanged on our shopping trips. My gifts of school supplies and gingham hair ribbons were trumped time and again with a perfectly ripe mango or a magenta bougainvillea to tuck behind my ear. This daughter of a brass merchant had very few worldly possessions, yet she always found the perfect souvenir of our time together. As Shaheen Majeed, marketing director for Sabinsa, a company with a long corporate and family history in India said, "Giving back is in our DNA."
When writer Karen Waugh Raterman returned from a trip to India with the nonprofit group Vitamin Angels in March, I could see the same exhilaration that I felt so many years ago. Karen shares some of her insights in a newly launched special international report about doing business in India. Through the generous support of Sabinsa, Functional Ingredients brings you an in-depth look at this fascinating corner of the world and the opportunities that lie within a rapidly expanding middle class.
Through the coming months, you will begin to see many changes in our publication. Along with this international feature, the staff will profile a leading industry member on the last editorial page of each issue. For the first of such features, it was only appropriate to honour Rand Skolnick, former CEO of Solgar, who died on July 4, 2008. He leaves a legacy of community service that is unsurpassed. Rand will be missed by so many.
Namasté (a traditional Indian salutation of respect),