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What Dr Singh wants from the IIM grads

Last updated on: March 28, 2011 09:15 IST

What Dr Singh wants from the IIM grads

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BS Reporter in Ahmedabad

Premier business schools and their graduates have a special responsibility to prepare our society and systems for the demands of a globalised world, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the graduating class of the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad on Saturday.

In his convocation address to the 46th batch of the institute, the PM asked them to remember that India was a society riven with the tensions and challenges of deprivation across the board.

And, the attendant pressure of aspirations.

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Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Photographs: Reuters
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What Dr Singh wants from the IIM grads

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Looking back since the landmark economic reforms of the early 1990s, the PM, a prime player in those events, said: "The path was new, the challenges were formidable, the outcomes were uncertain.

"But our resolve was strong and our goals were clear. The reforms of 1991 were aimed at unleashing the animal spirits of Indian enterprise and the wellsprings of Indian creativity."

Today, he noted, the success of those decisions was evident. "We have long since left behind the era of modest savings, low investment and low growth.

"Our savings and investment rates give us confidence that we can, with prudent policies and sound economic management, achieve sustained double-digit growth. India has gradually become one of the most preferred global destinations for foreign investors."

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What Dr Singh wants from the IIM grads

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And, yet, he said, the journey had barely begun, while also being vulnerable to numerous pitfalls.

"The pace of reform in India will depend on how far our policies meet the test of democratic consensus and take into account the vulnerabilities of different sections of our population.

"We should recognise that our high growth is not sustainable unless it is made more inclusive, in a manner that helps to reduce social tensions and disparities."

Which was where B-schools and their graduates had a role bigger than many might realise. Innovation -- in management, in systems, in ideas, in communication -- was not just a matter of helping a firm or its bottom line along.

It was a means of addressing pressing economic and social challenges.

The country respects you for having brilliant minds, he said. 

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What Dr Singh wants from the IIM grads

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The issue is what you are going to do with it. It is a globalising world. Are Indian youth ready to cope, to participate?

How prepared are B-schools' cream to show an inspiring way forward?

"These institutions should help develop solutions for the critical development challenges of our time. Their research should create management models that are appropriate for our country."

Keep your horizons wide, he advised. Take climate change and environmental damage, and what these portend for human life and living.

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"A fundamental lesson of management is that organisations must adapt to changes in the environment to succeed," reminded the PM. Asking, in effect, do you have it in you to measure up to the task?

Your home base is itself your big plus point, he told the future bigwigs of commerce and industry.

A strength that comes from what goes on outside your classrooms.

For, India's greatest strength as a home for management education was the 'can-do' spirit of its people and their ability to deal with adversity.

Which was why, went his upbeat advice, "Indian CEOs are second to none in the world. There is no better training ground for Indian managers than India itself. If you can succeed in India, you can succeed anywhere in the world."

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