JAMSHEDPUR: "True democracy will emerge only when we allow people to manage and take control of their lives, when goods and services produced by rural areas will get better terms of trade than goods and services produced in the cities. Only when our farmers are involved in the processes of development will they be able to command their destiny. True development is the development of women and men."- Dr Verghese Kurien.
XLRI Jamshedpur, one of India's premier B-Schools organized the first Verghese Kurien Memorial Oration on Sustainable Development to discuss the contribution of the founder of Amul, also known as the Milkman of India. Nirmala Kurien, his daughter was present at the event.
The oration was delivered by P Sainath, journalist and Ramon Magsaysay awardee for journalism, literature and creative communication arts. This debut oration in memory of Dr Kurien was held to inspire aspiring business leaders and young professionals to help shape an inclusive and just society whilst inculcating the values and entrepreneurial spirit of Kurien.
The event began with the welcome address by Prof. Madhukar Shukla, Chairperson of XLRI's Fr. Arrupe Center for Ecology & Sustainability and convener of the oration. "We decided to institute this oration to create a platform to listen to and learn from thought-leaders, social entrepreneurs, development sector professionals and policy makers who have made significant contribution to the idea of a empowered, prosperous and sustainable society. The oration is to commemorate the memory of Dr. Verghese Kurien and needless to say there is no better model of sustainable development both in terms of his life and legacy than Dr. Kurien", Prof. Shukla said.
Dr P Sainath in his lecture on the topic "Unequal is Unsustainable", highlighted the growing crisis in rural areas because of growing inequality and excessive usage of resources. By drawing the audience attention to the 100 days of rural livelihood, he said, "According to survey figures on an average on any given 100 day 4,600 Indian farmers will commit suicide, 46-70,000 will attempt suicide, 200,000 will give up farming and 1000s will leave country side for search of job in the urban areas".
The three 'giant crisis' that the country is facing today are — water, agriculture and health.
Dr Sainath criticised in his speech, the unrestrained wastage of water at a time when people in the countryside have to travel miles for a bucket of drinking water. "India is the largest over- user of underground water in the world... There is water crisis not because of drought, but because of the way it is used for, what it is used for and on what it is allocated for", he said.
He also expressed concern on the growing health expenses that have forced many to avoid medical assistance. He said that according to the third round of NSSO health survey the number of Indians who have stopped seeking medical aid purely due to financial reasons has doubled in the recent past. The number is more than double particularly in urban areas because of the increase in distress peasant migration. Privatization of health sector has made medical aid unaffordable for many in the country.
Dr Sainath argued that the country needs to include a moral dimension to its growth model, sustainable growth is impossible in a scenario where resources are being exhausted. He said that Dr. Verghese Kurein's real work was towards organising of funds so that there is growth and development for everybody and he proposed 'growth through justice' as the ideal approach through which development for all could be achieved.
During his lecture, Dr Sainath emphasized on the directive principles of state policy mentioned in the Indian Constitution, which gives the guidelines for establishing a good state. The growth models of today need to apply the vision of our Constitution makers. He concluded his speech by quoting Louis Brandeis "Either you can have great concentration of wealth or democracy".
In his address, Fr E Abraham, S J director of XLRI said, "XLRI's relation with Dr. Verghese Kurien goes back to last over 22 years. Dr Verghese Kurien, as we all know was a renowned Indian social entrepreneur and is best known as the 'Father of the White Revolution' for his billion litre idea or operation flood — the world's biggest agricultural development programme. He was instrumental in taking India from a milk deficient nation to the largest milk producer in the world surpassing The United States of America in 1998 accounting for about 17% of the global output of milk."
Fr. Abraham remembered Dr Kurien for his faith in the ability of the ordinary people who can achieve extra-ordinary results. "Dr Kurien believed that development can be achieved only by harnessing the power in the grassroots and to promote their larger interest and greater good of the nation", he added.
The guest of honour, Mr Nirmala Kurien said, "I thank XLRI for arranging 'Dr Verghese Kurien Memorial Oration' and Dr P Sainath for delivering the lecture". She shared with the audience some personal experiences and memories of her father.
Dr Kurien was conferred 'Sir Jehangir Ghandy Medal for Social and Industrial Peace' by XLRI in 1992.
Source: Times Of India