Dr. Harish Hande, the founder and Managing Director of SELCO India, and winner of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award 2011 for his pioneering work in taking solar energy to the poor through a sustainable business model, delivered a lecture on ‘Social Entrepreneurship, Sustainable Energy and the Youth’ to the Engineering and MBA students of Manipal. This lecture, organized by TAPMI, is the seventh in the line of the Silver Jubilee Leadership Lecture Series. This initiative is to nurture future leaders by providing a platform to the young business minds to interact with the great leaders of today.
Dr. Harish Hande started his address with humour calling himself a classical product of subsidy. He opposed the view of subsidies being perceived as bad in several MBA institutes and the society by giving examples of Vietnam. He mentioned about how one treats one’s ecosystem and emphasised on the daily acts of judging people more on terms of their profile, job and social status rather than emphasizing on them being treated as equal individuals. He focussed on the Indian education system as putting students into a cocoon, where the overall growth of the individual is hampered. He views India as a paradox of an overdeveloped and an underdeveloped country and suggested that India needs a paradigm shift in various business models.
Dr. Hande brought into light the differences between needs and wants, emphasizing that we have not created models on the needs of the poor, and suggested that we should focus more on creating models based on innovation, which other developing countries like Africa can follow. India should become leaders of 4 billion people rather than taxing the classic model of sustainability by focussing more on the markets of classic business models of McDonald’s and Wal-Mart. Stating that needs vary based on geographic location like in various states in India, he explained that they cannot be explained if we choose such classical business models giving an example of the 5 trillion-dollar case of the Hindustan Lever Ltd.
He questioned the true meaning of Sustainable Development in India in reference to Salt workers of Kutch and Coal miners of India. He said that we need a decentralised approach of energy and mentioned about the sensitivity of breaking the barriers between banks and people including the poor. He mentioned that the rich India is hiding behind the poor and living on the subsidies of the poor, which can be turned around at the advantage of the rich and see how it can be utilized in creating sustainable energy and development. According to him, the poor cannot be faulted for contributing to environmental threats because the society as a whole is responsible for not providing them with the optimum solutions.
He concluded by showing his disappointment in the youth of today by holding them responsible for the future unsustainability of the country. According to him, the best form of protests is to create solutions today for which the youth are being educated and not make excuses. Hence, he put it as a challenge to the youth of today to make a difference by providing a solution and not by following a solution set by others.