Speaking at CII Session - Navigating Avenues for Sustainable Development

Mar 6, 2024
Addressed a technical session on 'Navigating Avenues for Sustainable Development', organized during the Annual Meeting of CII Odisha in Bhubaneswar on March 05, 2024.
Emphasized the importance of synergies between ecosystem stakeholders to pave the way for a prosperous future. Read the full transcript of the talk below:

[Start of Transcript]

Good afternoon, esteemed guests, both on and off the dais.

When it comes to any discussion on Odisha's economic prosperity, three significant points come to my mind.

The first was the devastating super cyclone in 1999 when I was in Odisha, visiting and spending time with my parents, sister, and my dog. The super cyclone occurred, and I witnessed the devastation in the coastal districts firsthand. It was an experience that truly brought to light the inadequacy of our infrastructure and disaster preparedness at that time. Today, while we may not claim to be the best, we have significantly improved, showcasing a level of preparedness and infrastructure development, both physical and digital, that we can certainly be proud of. The bottom line is there has been prosperity.

Second, there was a time when our logistic strategies hinged on the difficult schedules at the Kolkata port. It seemed like Odisha's coast was just for scenic boat rides. Now, with our burgeoning ports, it's like watching your child graduate from tricycle to triathlon. The narrative has shifted from scarcity to strategic growth, proving that we're not just on the right track but are also picking up speed.

The third point is an interesting fact. In 1991, three cities were granted earth stations for digital communication by the Software Technology Parks of India. Bangalore, Pune, and Bhubaneswar. While Bangalore went fast in establishing itself as the Silicon Valley of India, Bhubaneswar stayed somewhere behind. However, despite the slow start, the progress in our IT and ITES ecosystem has been noteworthy. There's a lot of optimism in the air, and rightfully so. We might not all agree on the pace of this growth, but the consensus is clear - we are making progress.

We have some tangible progress. But now what? Let’s look at what we have. This brings me to consider the natural wealth of Odisha. Our state has a rich diversity of resources, both below and above the earth - from metals to mangoes. It's like nature played a game of biodiversity lottery, and Odisha won the jackpot. The state is also blessed with a long coastline and large rivers. Of course, we have some challenges, like the one we just had in western Odisha, but we have a unique advantage. Moreover, we have a large proportion of youth being groomed in a peaceful and tolerant atmosphere - the would-be workforce and would-be entrepreneurs.

We have our foundation set, but then how do we make things happen? The answer lies in building and leveraging the synergy between the four pillars of our ecosystem: government, industry, financial institutions, and academia.

In our quest for development, we often look towards the government for policy solutions - wishing for subsidies and ease of doing business as if expecting a genie to pop out of a lamp. On the other hand, there is an interesting situation with industry-academia. The industry is shouting in its silo of expectation that the rightly-skilled people should come from educational institutions and work. At the same time, academia is wondering why the employment situation is so bad despite much hard work.

We need to find a connection and we need to redefine it. Let's champion a strong industry-academia collaboration, building a generation of thinkers, innovators, and leaders adept in analytics, business, communication, and digital literacy.

As stakeholders, let us unite and find our synergies. It's like assembling a dream team for a blockbuster movie, each role is pivotal, and the script evolves through constant negotiation and adaptation. In the grand canvas of Odisha's progress, each of us holds the potential to weave a story of unparalleled success and happiness.

With this, I conclude my talk. Thank you.

[End of Transcript]