Business is not just about profit-making. Young business leaders should realize this fact and need to strike a balance between economic and social goals, President Pratibha Patil said here on Monday.
“Young business leaders should be generous in spirit. Successful business models can go hand-inhand with growth that is beneficial to society. The world’s most successful and admired organizations have a commitment not only towards shareholders of their company but to society at large,” Patil said while addressing students at the Indian School of Business (ISB), which completed a decade of existence.
Delivering the keynote address on the `Role of young business leaders in achieving inclusive growth and nation building’, Patil called for a more intense engagement of Indian industry in rural areas and urged B-school grads to explore ways of working in rural areas by making farmers stakeholders in their enterprises.
“Business is not confined to the four walls of industrial units. Farmers are also private entrepreneurs. The farmers are the largest number of business persons who take risks, work hard and feed the nation. Agriculture, done in a scientific and businesslike manner, will generate much-needed manifold employment,” she said.
According to her, the importance of rural areas and the agricultural sector was increasing in the context of an inclusive agenda and ensuring food security because growth in agriculture was on an average two to three times more effective in raising incomes of the poor.
Patil pointed out that for India to stay in the race as one of the fastest growing economies, inclusive growth and harnessing the power of youth was crucial. “We need to bring the poverty-stricken people into the growth cycle. Only by addressing the needs of those at the bottom of the pyramid, the vision of securing economic justice for all can be achieved. Mahatma Gandhi once said that true economics stands for social justice and promotes the good of all, including the weakest.”
Citing United Nations estimates that in the next 40 years, India’s population would grow by 300 million working age persons, she said that the youth’s energy and enthusiasm must be guided into productive work and their ideas and innovations tapped for the betterment of society. According to her, focus on human development can make India a human resource-rich country and work in this direction was a must if India’s demographics were to yield a dividend and not become a disadvantage.
She emphasized the role that educational institutions like ISB can play in contributing to social inclusion by encouraging entrepreneurship. “The spirit of entrepreneurship is necessary if we are to create a new India. Entrepreneurship education can be a societal change agent.”
The President also expressed concern at the growing lack of employable skills among Indian youth. “It is a worrying sign that even though the third largest number of graduates in the world every year is produced in India, only 15% of our youth, passing out of college, have the skills required to become employable. This means students are getting degrees but not employable hands-on skills. As a society transforms, its education system must respond to change.”
Pointing out that the Indian economy faces a shortfall of 2 lakh engineers, 4 lakh graduates in other fields and 1.5 lakh vocationally trained engineers, she called upon institutions like ISB to participate in developing the required skills.
“The government has set up the National Skills Development Corporation to provide training to 500 million people by 2022. Institutions like ISB should not only participate in it, but through interaction with the business world, help in developing the required skills,” she said. TOI