Place : New Delhi Speech Date :18-03-2011
- A holistic view of human life and the surroundings is essential for our sustainable development and India presents a premier model in a situation like this .
- To balance between development and economic growth, we have to look towards Mahatma Gandhi.
- Even in the midst of robustness, there may be small devices and structures which are closer to the nature. Even amidst the mega creations, there may be small mechanisms which can empower and take care of the last person.
- Gujarat's model of development is an amazing mix of the big and small; robust and inclusive; fast and yet sustainable.
- India has the power of new energy in the form of its youth.
- India has the strength of its tradition in the form of its caring culture.
- India has the warmth of participation in the form of its democracy.
“Leadership in an Emerging Nation: Balancing Development and Economic Growth”Mr. Birthe Foster, the Chairperson of EBG, Excellencies, Leaders of the European and Indian corporate world, Ladies and Gentlemen!
At the very outset, I wish to compliment the organizers for choosing this topic. It is not only relevant for the economy but also for the humanity. It is also a matter very close to my heart. Such deliberations help us a lot in learning from each other. I have been a firm believer in noble intentions in every human being. We all want to do good. And the collective wisdom does give us the way forward. In fact, the term leadership has a wider meaning. There are leaders in every walk of life. The real work of a true leader is to unleash that creativity of the people around him. If we encourage leaders in all fields, there would be automatic balance in the society and economy. We have to work on this collective strength of the people.
Friends! I think after the world wars, this is the most critical moment in human history. Established theories are getting diluted. Our beliefs are getting tested. Our structures are still looking for the capacity to withstand the nature. Our safety nets are not safe enough. Our systems are not strong to safeguard us before human and natural adventures. Employment and livelihood is not secure for all time. Infrastructure and amenities are not sustainable. But we have to live and have to live in a better way. For this, we have to make this world a better place to live. Not only for ourselves, but also for the coming generations. The option is not to escape from the reality. The option is also not to disappear from this planet. There is a common belief that if you are living at a particular place, you are better off. But recent economic crisis and natural disasters have shown that it is not so. So WHERE do we live is not an important question. To my mind, the important question is HOW do we live?
Friends! To say conclusively as to how do we live is not easy. Unfortunately, there are very few models left on which we can rely. All philosophies have been tested. All technologies have been tried. The industrial revolution gave us the confidence that we can make anything. The world wars gave the confidence that we can destroy anything. But when it comes to development of all, no theory, philosophy or strategy has proved to be enough. There have been elections, civil unrest and wars in the name of equality and justice. But we all know where we stand. What is the reason for this situation? The answer, to my mind, is within us. We have to look within. The biggest problem of the present model of development is that it is based on exploitation. Exploitation of nature and its resources. Exploitation of the poor by the rich. Exploitation of one part of the world by another part. Exploitation of the feelings of the common man through dreams of consumerism. It will not work for a long time.
The answer is not in exploitation. The answer is in nurturing. We have to find and exchange technologies which ensure maximum productivity from minimum usage of natural resources. The ‘throw away' culture is not sustainable. This is leading to a mad rush of consumerism. By the time we get used to one particular model of an instrument, there is a newer version. What we need is satisfaction and value for the consumer. Only the satisfaction of the producer is not enough. Moreover, we have to use our resources in a manner that the same is available in equal or greater measure for the posterity. Unfortunately, the term ‘development' has become a limited concept. It is understood as relating only to economic development and physical wellbeing. Moreover, it attempts to meet only the present demands. While nurturing takes a holistic view of the situation. It combines the people, resources and amenities. It combines the past, the present and the future . A holistic view of human life and the surroundings is essential for our sustainable development . I can say that such models are available in many emerging nations . I have the humility to say that India presents a premier model in a situation like this .
India has been a society and culture of nurturing and nourishment . We have been told to thank and seek forgiveness from the mother earth as soon as we get up in the morning . We have been told not only to plant trees but to preserve and worship them . We have been told to raise cattle, feed them and pray for their well being if we want our good fortunes . We have been told to treat the entire universe as one family . These thoughts are embedded in our culture and scriptures . Since ancient times, our society has practiced them . However, it was Mahatma Gandhi who showed us that these ideals work even in the modern age . Friends! In this light, I can answer your topic in one line. And the answer is that we have to look towards Mahatma Gandhi. There can not be a better guide to balance the conflicting demands of present day. The conflicts are there for economic growth, disaster management and ecological conservation. The challenge is to ensure smooth, equitable and sustainable development .
Thus, living in harmony with the nature; living with compassion for others is the only way to live happily . I have not read anything more profound than what Gandhi has told for the people like us sitting here . And this is relevant for the entire topic of today. He said, “If you are in a dilemma, just remember the face of the last person who is going to be affected by your decision”. So, ‘UNTO THE LAST' is the best guiding principle for balancing the economic growth and development. However, we have misinterpreted it to mean just ‘trickle down' of wealth and development . This is not enough .
Just distribution is not enough . It will not reach till the last person . It will not reach to him at the time when he needs it . It will not be available in the manner he needs it . What we need is the models of development where people are not just beneficiaries . Rather they are made equal partners in the process of development . People should be in the beginning of the development cycle, not at the end . Someone had said ‘Small is Beautiful' . But, unfortunately, small became a synonym of poverty . Actually, it is not so . Even in the midst of robustness, there may be small devices and structures which are closer to the nature . Even amidst the mega creations, there may be small mechanisms which empower and take care of the last person . This is essential . The ‘Big' will not be sustainable unless its foundation lies in the small . Small devices, small mechanisms, and above all, the feelings of the small man .
Friends! You must be aware that Gujarat is the birth place of Gandhi . And then who else will follow what he said, if we don't . I must admit that our eyes are always on robust and faster economic growth . I always say ‘Gujarat's growth is needed for India's growth' . We are committed to contribute immensely to India's faster growth . However, Gujarat's growth model is very different . It is a very unique model .
- Our Growth is with active participation of people
- Our Growth is a mass movement
- Our growth is both robust and pervasive
- Our growth is both quantitative and qualitative
- Gujarat is a place where rural development has kept pace with urban Growth
- Gujarat is a place where agriculture has kept pace with industry
- Gujarat is a place where wellbeing of workers has kept pace with industrialization
Gujarat's growth is sufficiently uniform and inclusive . However, our present emphasis is on better Human Development Index . On the one hand, we have created world class hospitals . At the same time, we have made the poor people get easy access to the medical facilities (Chiranjeevi Yojna) . On the one hand, we export quality industrial products of the country and on the other, our farmers supply important agri and dairy produce in the foreign countries . There is a long list of the things in Gujarat which are innovative, modern and progressive . And yet they are humanitarian solutions to our problems . This is the reason that Gujarat's multi-faceted growth and excellence has been recognized not only in the country but in the entire world . This is because we work with people . We work holistically and strengthen the entire value chain .
To give a few examples:
- In water: From harvesting to its economic use leading to high agri-productivity
- In agriculture: from farm to factory, from factory to fashion from fashion to foreign .
- In energy: from generation to management and its conservation and saving
- In forestry: from conservation to social forestry to creation of forests based on the planets and stars
Friends! To sum up, I must reiterate that if you want sustainability in development, the whole world has to be viewed as one organic unit . We have seen that in bad times of the Global economy, it was the emerging nations who sustained the pace of economy . They did it through creation of demand for the products and thus creation of jobs . It was they who helped in sustaining global recovery during the recession . However, even when the time is good, the whole world treats them just as markets . I will give you only one example . We all know that thermal energy is too expensive from the viewpoint of its carbon footprint . We have seen recently that even Nuclear energy can be very expensive for human lives . Their adverse impacts are felt for several generations . The developed world wants renewable and eco-friendly sources of energy to be exploited . This is indeed the need of the hour . But then we are not getting the technology at cheaper prices . We all know that given the high input prices, we can not do it with the desired momentum . We, in Gujarat, have started harnessing the wind and solar energy in a big way . I am personally committed for it and we are going ahead . I firmly believe that we must tackle the issues impacting the climate . We can not ignore it any longer . In fact, in order to give focus and to work in organised manner on the climate change issues, we have created a full fledged department for Climate Change . We have taken a lot of measures in this direction . Some of these measures have been listed in my recent book ‘Convenient Action' .
So, if we want the world to be a better place to live, we have to treat it as one unit. If we want economic growth to be pervasive, we have to make people its partners . If we want the process of development to be sustainable, we have to work with the environment. If we want our coming generations to enjoy the fruits of development, we have to nurture the nature . Even at the cost of repetition, I would say that India is an excellent model in this regard . India has the power of new energy in the form of its youth. India has the strength of its tradition in the form of its caring culture. India has the warmth of participation in the form of its democracy. The whole world has seen during the recession that India has its inherent strength to withstand a crisis. A strength, which is rooted in its universal thinking and interdependence .
And friends ! Gujarat always represents the best of what is India