26 May 2019

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Focus on the Society: Amartya Sen to Entrepreneurs

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The sixth TiE Entrepreneurial Summit witnessed Nobel Laureate Prof Amartya Sen taking the centre stage with NDTV Group Editor Barkha Dutt asking him what his message to the business community in India would be. Prof Sen answered to this, “The business community plays a unique role but they are also part of the society. They should not get into making quick money on the sly. They have to think big, not just in terms of money, but also in terms of remedies for the society.”

Prof Sen said that while scams were always disturbing, it was very easy to over-estimate their impact. “Scams are not special to India,” he said. “India is stating that we are not just revealing the bad side, we are also doing something about it, he said. The media and the opposition are playing their role in this, he added.

Stalwarts from different walks of life had discussions on how to make India an innovation nation. Mr Saurabh Srivastava, Chairman Emeritus, TiE Delhi-NCR, said, “We have robust growth but half the country lives below the poverty line. How can we use innovation to resolve this with the limited resources we have?”

British High Commissioner to India, Sir Richard Stagg highlighted that innovation was the need of the time for India as well as the UK, though for different reasons. “You face challenges related to power, creating urban systems and education. UK has a high cost economy and now needs to find ways to stay competitive when compared to nations like India, China, Malaysia, who are rapidly climbing the value chain. Our governments have been working together to bring innovation at various levels.”

Celebrated scientist Dr RA Mashelkar, who is a former Director General of CSIR, and heads the National Innovation Council, said, “The ‘I’ in India should stand for innovation, and not for imitation.” He said India’s growth has to be inclusive. The new slogan around innovation is “More for less for more,” he said. He said doing well in business is important, but it’s even more important now to be doing well by doing good. “Focus on ultra low costs, ultra affordability,” he said.

Noted film maker Shekhar Kapur said that the real power of India is in how we manage the bottom of the pyramid. “Entrepreneurship comes out of nothing, so if we can force entrepreneurship down to the bottom of the pyramid, we can become a truly great nation,” he said. He pointed out that having pervasive broadband access was needed as once you connect people, entrepreneurship happens.

Mr Pradeep Udhas of KPMG talked of some interesting examples of innovation in the country. The self organizing governance in Dharavi, Dr Devi Shetty’s health insurance that costs less than Rs 5 per month, Xerox sending its managers to India to learn about innovation, were some of the examples he spoke about.

In the session titled, Go for Gold, tapped into the patriotic spirit of the audience as sporting stars took the stage and spoke passionately about the activities of Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ). OGQ, a not-for-profit organization, focuses on getting India to win multiple gold medals in the 2016 Olympics. Viren Rasquinha, who has been the captain of Indian Hockey team, spoke of the amazing achievements of our sportspersons despite the odds against them. He also spoke about the Power the Champion program of OGQ which enables each citizen to be able to contribute to support the training of upcoming sportspersons.

Shooting champion Gagan Narang spoke about the support parents need to give to children who are interested in taking up sports as their career. Neeraj Bharadwaj, Managing Director at Accel Partners talked about how the not for profit had the greatest sporting personalities giving their time as well as people from the corporate arena bringing in the professional management of the initiative.

A session chaired by Maheshwar Peri, Publisher of Outlook, had the audience enthralled with three entrepreneurs sharing their stories of struggle, success and self belief. He spoke about identifying a great need of the society and encouraged budding entrepreneurs to build a business on that. Shashank ND, Founder of Practo, advised students to have mentors who had startup experience as their advisors in their entrepreneurial journey.

Vijay Shekhar Sharma, MD of One97, spoke about his underdog story: the small town boy struggling to learn English language, going on to set up two companies. “The problem you face defines the kind of personality you are,” he said. He also advised to entrepreneurs to stay paranoid and not be swept by the euphoria of success.

Ashish Kapur, MD of Yo! China talked of his journey and focused on the time they lost sight of the customer, and hence saw hard times for the company. But their passion for the business and the need to create a great meal-to-meal experience for the customer brought them back to profitability, he said.

Small Enterprise India Information Desk

Last Updated ( Sunday, 09 January 2011 21:44 )  

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