Sunday, 2 December 2012

The Magic Wand

I sat down to write this piece on a day, almost everyone in this world, I would like to believe so, would wish was never there. But 26/11 was a grim reality that can never be forgotten. And there are like this date, many more such horrific dates that are grim realities that I wish could be wished away. Alas, we don’t have such a magic wand. Such reminders are now ever increasing with an alarming frequency urging us all, the entire human race, to look for ways and means to find that magic wand. Some abundantly armed amongst us are waging wars to cleanse, or so do they claim, resulting in mostly unsuspecting communities being pushed to stone age. Some other powers replace firepower with sanctions and restrictions, further dividing communities and sowing seeds for more trouble. While some others still, sensing the need to do something, end up doing some lip-service at best and an occasional candle march. Ways and means to deal with the menace are being debated across the world with each trying to defend its own act. There is however a magic wand which always worked. The magic wand of entrepreneurship. Almost all of such menaces around the world can surely, and rightly so, be linked to either poverty or greed. And they unfortunately do have a cause and effect relationship. Greed seems to be actually becoming the bigger devil, collapsing corporations, crippling nations and sucking life out of our once upon a time ‘life planet’, resulting ultimately in more of us getting pushed to the other devil, poverty. While there are arguments galore linking most terrorism to religious fanaticism or fundamentalism of some kind, the fact remains that it is usually the un-fed, underfed and the deprived that fall prey to such hate propaganda, usually always for food, money, and for the right to live humanely. Religion is just a political tool to create communities, groups and disseminate the hate propaganda. The unsuspecting always and naturally so fall prey to such dubious schemes, dreaming of an elusive ‘better life’. The magic wand of entrepreneurship can soften this fundamentalist propaganda, if not eradicate it someday. True entrepreneurial initiatives mostly have risen from the need to find solutions to human needs and invariably generating employment while also making life better, comfortable and more humane. There is though a disturbing trend of a rising number of industrialists and billionaires becoming so by trading natural resources. Such primarily greed induced initiatives do not eventually provide solutions for a better human life but lead to industrial colonization, mafiotic regimes and commerce led violence and terrorism. The magic wand of the true spirit of entrepreneurship however cannot be enforced like sanctions and restrictions. It can only be encouraged and supported. The powers that enforce need to look at entrepreneurship as a real solution and act as incubators to allow such initiatives to flourish. Only then we can possibly have a world where dates to celebrate humanity will outnumber grim reminders like 26/11.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

All We Need is to Dare

“The gale of creative destruction” has disrupted, created, innovated and revitalised businesses and societies across the globe. It is this dynamism in spirit that has led to the transformation of the world that we live in today. At the IIPM and Planman Group, we have always been inspired to dare, to think beyond. This spirit that we believe has led to transformations of businesses and societies. Innovative ideas, capital and manpower are not enough to create and transform businesses. While the most obvious definitions of entrepreneurship refer to starting of new businesses, which could even be spin-offs of existing businesses, we believe that real entrepreneurial spirit is in the dare, to think beyond, to disrupt, relook and overhaul inferior processes into superior innovations. It is this spirit that we celebrate in this journal. 

In today’s world, entrepreneurship cannot just be ‘for-profit’ business initiative. Entrepreneurial spirit has thankfully also spilled over into innovations for the society, to make the world a better place to live in. Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak’s initiative to offer Indians a dignified and humane way to relieve themselves is a positive transformation in the society. Creating Sulabh toilets required as much, maybe even more, of innovation, risk taking, enterprise and the spirit to think beyond. Dr. Mohammed Yunus’ initiative to offer micro-finance to the economically not-so-fortunate in Bangladesh transformed the society as it made finance available to women and led to unprecedented community development in the country. These are entrepreneurial initiatives which we celebrate as much as we would celebrate Dr. Narayanmurthy and his group of six other entrepreneurs who transformed their initial investment of Rs.10,000 into the global empire called Infosys, generating revenues of over $6.5 billion. And then there are people whose could dare with their initiatives to seemlessly merge the two. On an IIPM educational tour to the Nestle headquarters in Vevey, Switzerland, my group of students, colleagues and I were filled with pride when the Vice President of Nestle, addressing us on entrepreneurship lauded and set as a benchmark Dr. Verghese Kurien’s pioneering and unique concept of rural development that also led to the creation of one of the world’s largest milk brand, Amul.

As a country, India has been fortunate to witness yet another form of entrepreneurship, which again directly is not related to creation of economic goods and services. Mahatma Gandhi’s unique and world transforming non-violent revolution is again one person’s initiative to dare, to think beyond, and create a paradigm for revolutions that disrupted the very concept of revolutions as was known earlier. 

We would, in this quarterly journal, present to you thoughts and ideas, attitudes and personalities, trials and tribulations of entrepreneurs that have transformed businesses and societies in our country and across the globe. Cheers to the spirit…to dare, to think beyond!