Jul-Sep 2011

Nation-Building From the Roots

Her Excellency Pratibha Devisingh Patil, President of India, visited the Indian School of Business (ISB) on occasion of the institute’s 10th anniversary celebrations. She addressed the ISB community on how young business leaders could achieve inclusive growth and contribute towards nation-building.

“Align your goals with the priorities of the nation,” urged Pratibha Patil, President of India to a packed audience comprising ISB faculty, staff and students. Enthusing students to participate in India’s growth, she stressed that it was possible for successful business models to incorporate social goals that benefitted those at the bottom of the pyramid. She added that only if we worked towards inclusive growth, would India be able to sustain the fast pace of growth seen in the previous two decades.

Citing a high percentage of youth – 300 million working-age people in the next forty years – as India’s strength, she said, “Their energy and enthusiasm must be guided into productive work. Their ideas and innovations must be tapped for the betterment of society.” For such a large demography to play an enabling role and not become a disadvantage in the future, she urged educational institutions to “create the human resource capacities required for the times.” Highlighting the shortfall of qualified graduates, she pointed that there was a need to expand the education system so that every child in the country can receive quality education.

She expressed her concern that although students were receiving degrees, they were not gaining employable hands-on skills. “The objective of an

educational institution is to prepare its students to meet the competitive environment of a knowledge-based and technology-driven world.” She advised institutions such as ISB, through collaboration with the industry, to help in the development of these requisite skills.

At the heart of her address was rural sector inclusion in India’s growth. Entrepreneurship education can be a societal change agent. As a facilitator of entrepreneurs, she urged ISB to engage in India’s rural sector. “Farmers are private entrepreneurs. They are risk takers. Why not have two risk takers come together?”

The objective of an educational institution is to prepare its students to meet the competitive environment of a knowledge-based and technology-driven world.

She added that “business is not confined to the four walls of industrial units” and explained that agriculture, if carried out in a more scientific and “business-like” manner could generate employment, just like conventional businesses. “Agriculture does not bring rural prosperity alone, but it is a factor for the prosperity of the whole nation.” She encouraged students to espouse social causes and look for ways to engage rural India in their enterprises.

“I wish that you become harbingers of change in this endeavour,” was the president’s hope for the future business leaders.

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