Business Leadership – Young India

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Young India: Is the future up for grabs?

A 2011 survey revealed that the average Indian is 27 years old. The median age in China; which is the only other nation to have a population of over 1 billion is about 36.7 years old.1The numbers might be flattering but what are the real challenges that could confront India in the near future and what could the civil society and socially conscious institutions make a difference?

Education in India lacks critical pedagogical methods

Global challenges and problems require skill sets that are flexible, open to radical challenges and are responsive to unforeseen changes. Challenges will soon exceed the scope of traditional IT services as climate change, economic upheavals, geo-political conflicts etc start impacting traditional modes of living and thinking. From this perspective, education in India very seriously lacks the adequate infrastructure to confront the challenges we face on a global scale. New areas of studies in Sociology have revealed a whole new set of problems confronting students from nonliterate backgrounds. Social and Cultural Capital for instance have a larger role to play in the development of minds than IQ. The grading system is thus biased from this perspective as it gives urban-upper and middle classes an undue advantage while hugely ignoring the inherent potential in the rest of the country. The foreign visits by the Prime Minister and the ability of PepsiCo to access water for 3.75 paise per liter can be interpreted as a result of the inability of the Indian Education system to encourage thought leadership.

Mumbai - The business hub of india

The Bane of Outsourcing

Outsourcing has been the bedrock of the IT sector in India for the past decade. It led to the expansion of cities like Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. This phenomena resulted in urbanization in India at a grand scale. Tech parks that house large Multinational corporations and startups that solve problems these tech-companies face are rife in the landscape of Urban India. Never before have the urban youth been better off. Malls, shopping complexes, movie theaters etc have also been beneficiaries of this project of outsourcing. Is this really a viable way in the future if India seeks to become a dominant global force in the coming decade? Outsourcing business can be profitable for big corporations but it only results in the policy of “compliance” when it comes down to dealing with projects. Professions now demand rigid thinking, monotonous tasks and long hours. This means a considerable number of technically skilled youth are employed in sectors that do not encourage autonomy, mastery and purpose which Daniel H. Pink says is vital to drive innovation.

The death of Classical Studies and the rise of Fundamentalism

Classical Studies is a disciple that is well established and funded in Western Universities for more than a century. Classical Studies deal with classical texts, the poems, saga literature and Biblical Studies are few streams that lead to re-encountering the past from rich and diverse perspectives. Classical Studies critically interrogate narratives in texts that form the basis of cultures and seek to open avenues for dialogue and culturally enrichment. It is said that there are more Sanskrit scholars in Germany than in India. Indian institutions neglect these disciplines because they have no immediate “practical impact”. This lacuna is now filled with fundamentalist discourses among upcoming urban-middle class youth. This form of fundamentalism is directly linked to complying with neo-liberal economic policies. This ironically encourage policies that encourage MNCs to invest in large infrastructure, employ cheap labor and destroy the livelihood of local communities. In short our societies are slowing becoming rigid, solidified and closed. The youth of tomorrow affected by this way of life will certainly be ill-equipped to become game changers in the global context.

The Role of Civil Society

Civil Society in this context has a vital role to play in shaping the future of India. The actions of Civil Society can be interventionist or foundational. Civil Society must continue to organize and engage with issues pertaining to Society, Culture, Environment, Religion, Business etc and can creatively encourage and build the youth of tomorrow.

Non-Governmental intervention in the realm of education and technology is an immediate necessity. Civil Society could fund and encourage projects that leverage technology for rural youth, promote sustainable projects that encourage leadership, encourage cultural exchanges etc. Scholarships for Humanities, Classical Studies, Environmental Studies etc could also encourage aspiring youth to become cultural innovators and build robust leadership. Research projects to study communities in need of intervention and direct aid can be undertaken by Civil Society Organizations.

The Role of Business Leadership

Dan Ariley talks about the Business of the future as an enterprise that is ecologically sustainable, positively impacts the communities that are in physical proximity and profitable. An positive impact in all these three parameters is a sign of a real business that adds value to life. Any innovation at the cost of community and ecology cannot be deemed as a profitable business because the organization has social and ecological debts. With this in mind, an indepth-interdisciplinary study along with best practices in business is the only viable option for the entrepreneur of tomorrow. This requires leadership, collaboration, diversity in skill sets and a very impactful vision. These business will be profitable not only for employees and shareholders but will actually result in wealth creation for society as a whole. Business leadership today must consider the role of technology, harness the power of the Human and be Ecocentric in approach to make a real difference in the India of tomorrow.