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It is a testing time for our country's democratic spirit

The grave agrarian crisis, the declining employment opportunities, the pervasive environmental degradation, and above all the divisive forces at work are the most obvious

Manmohan Singh 

manmohan Singh
Manmohan Singh. Photo: ANI

My dear budding management professionals, you are joining the business world at an important time when India is projected to be one of the top three economies of the world by 2030. This possibility opens up many opportunities and challenges for you.

Management institutions and centres of knowledge need to ceaselessly evolve and innovate their approach to learning, curricula, pedagogy and inter-personal relationships. You cannot allow yourselves to be left behind in the highly evolving and fast changing world of management studies, deterred by the speed of changes. You need to keep moving fast in order to lead. At the same time you need to keep your balance and nurture professionalism and strong work ethics which should guide you in your pursuit of success, be it as manager or an entrepreneur.

We are living in a fast changing world. On the one hand, we are getting more and more integrated with the world economy and exposed to the global markets, and on the other hand, we face massive economic and social challenges at home. Changing equations among global powers and fluctuations in the markets for petroleum products and other industrial commodities and the financial markets affect our economy more than ever before. The global warming is causing severe unforeseen natural calamities. They impact on the everyday life of our people, especially the vulnerable sections of society. The fluctuations in the global market for hydrocarbons is a classic case and we experience its impact almost daily. Similarly, may be to a lesser extent, the increasingly transactional nature of the equations amongst the major economic powers impact on our external environment and domestic processes of socio-economic development. Not only the governments and political leaders but captains of industry and business managers also have to be necessarily aware of the impact of external factors while pursuing their investment and operational strategies.

The domestic challenges of our economy are daunting in their complexity and devastating in their impact on our society. The grave agrarian crisis, the declining employment opportunities, the pervasive environmental degradation, and above all the divisive forces at work are the most obvious. Suicides of farmers and frequent farmer agitations reflect the structural imbalances in our economy which call for serious in-depth analysis and political will to address them. The jobless growth slipping into ‘job-loss growth’ together with rural indebtedness and urban chaos have made the growing aspirational youth restless. The attempts at creating additional job opportunities in the industrial sector have failed as industrial growth is not picking up fast enough. The small and unorganised sectors that were vibrant and contributing to generation of wealth and employment opportunities have grievously suffered in the wake of the disastrous demonetization and slip-shod introduction and implementation of GST. Well thought out policy and implementation strategies are required to stimulate industrial and commercial sectors. Kneejerk reactions and off the cuff announcements of grandiose schemes and unproductive projects have manifestly failed to uplift the economy to its potential.

One of the areas of major concern in our endeavours to promote employment oriented industry is the gap between the skills that the industry needs and the skill-sets that the graduating students possess. A good educational institution not only minimizes these gaps but also proactively prepares its students to meet the requirements of the present and the foreseeable future. Promoting innovation, excellence in teaching and research, improving quality, and fostering excellence in our institutions of higher education are our national priorities. Vigorous and continuous Institution-Industry Interface goes a long way in improving this teaching-learning process.

As you graduate from the portals of NDIM most of you have already joined the corporate world. Let me remind you that entrepreneurship and innovation are the bedrock of a successful career in business and a strong economy. Though the government cannot absolve itself of the responsibility of creating employment opportunities, particularly for the youth, it is the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation emanating from institutions like yours that will contribute to greater opportunities for inclusive economic growth and social development.

Needless to stress, it is a testing time for our democratic spirit, our patience and tolerance, our capacity of managing contradictions, our resolve of ensuring inclusive growth – a strong, equitable and sustainable growth. While ensuring macroeconomic stability and fiscal consolidation would remain the prerequisite for any semblance of inclusive growth, we need to incentivise and involve corporates and other business enterprises and business management institutions more and more in discharging their social responsibility of building the India of our dream. The energetic participation of business managers in nation-building tasks in the coming days will be a crucial determinant in this endeavour.

Budding business professionals, in your pursuit of achieving your goal, you need to blend our rich traditional knowledge and heritage with modern scientific outlook. Science and technology are the driving force of innovative growth. At the same time we need to remain transparent and accountable without compromising on speed and quality. Periods of crisis test our faith in the robustness of the nation’s inclusive values, and our commitment to pursue them against odds. Positivism, patience and perseverance are prerequisites for sustained success. I am happy that NDIM has been helping its students & alumni absorb these qualities and nurture them for success in their careers.

Edited excerpts from a convocation address by former prime minister Manmohan Singh at New Delhi School of Management on February 17

First Published: Sat, February 23 2019. 19:09 IST