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HUMAN CAPITAL: FUTURE SOURCE OF WEALTH AND BUSINESS

HUMAN CAPITAL: FUTURE SOURCE OF WEALTH AND BUSINESS 

Mr. Arun Bharat Ram and other distinguished  panelists, eminent Vice-Chancellors, academicians, experts from industry, and other present here, it is great pleasure and privilege for me to share some ideas and interact with you at this inaugural session of the Universities of India 2010: A knowledge Conclave, 6th University-Industry council (UIC) organized by CII in association with AIU and Mindlogicx.

First of all, having been associated with CII’s UIC right from the beginning, it is gratifying to  note that four out of the six persons on the dais in this inaugural session are from Industry, holding top and important positions.  It is also happy augur that Mr. Arun Bharat Ram, an eminent industrialist and also coming from a distinguished family which has promoted quality education for generations, is sour Chief Guest and he also takes care of the National Education Council of CII from this year onwards. He is also an accomplished Sitar player learnt from the renowned maestro Pt.Ravi Shankar.

3G SPECTRUM

Let me now come to the main topic or theme of this Conclave. Knowledge is the key word.  Before discussing it, let me ask you a question. How many of you even imagined say 15 years ago or even 10 years ago, that 3 G spectrum a small tiny portion of electromagnetic spectrum will fetch the Government Rs. 67,000 crores in the auction.  Those who won expect to make many many crores of rupees in the coming years.  20 years ago in a FM radio the thick cursor used to indicate the turning frequency.  Now even a small part of it fetches a huge sum.  A very small part of frequency spectrum which is defined in terms of scientific and mathematical terminology, something which cannot be touched, seen, or felt by us, has become so precious and fetches money!  Much more than gold, platinum.

PARDIGM SHIFT

Yes, as human progress takes place in terms of KNOWLEDGE, the paradigm shift takes place LAND-LABOUR-CAPITAL and BEYOND.  To be sure we still need LAND – for any activity from our living habitat to making huge factories, R&D laboratories or a University.  But with modern knowledge, a lot can be packed into a small part of the land; a lot of agricultural production can be done in a small piece of land – much more than what we could do a century ago.  And the human capability keeps increasing.

We need LABOUR.  Though, many knowledge embodied machines have increased human capabilities and human productivity, still LABOUR is required even in the most advanced countries.

Then CAPITAL is also crucial for all activities.  Even to acquire, assimilate, disseminate existing knowledge or to generate new knowledge, lots of investments are required.

All the above three LAND-LABOUR-CAPITAL and the new factor KNOWLEDGE are all interdependent.

ESOTERIC SUBTLE (SOOKSHMA) – EMERGING PARADIGM

But still the expansion in the unuseable, unfeelable knowledge space is mind boggling.

Geostationary Orbit (GSO) which has a useable space of about 70 km radius cylinder at around 36,0000 km height from the earth is a great wealth generator.  It is a mathematical, physics based entity.  Today, it is regulated by UN related agencies and international agreements.  Don’t be surprised if they are auctioned in future!

In other words, the emerging paradigm is that knowledge (of Science and Technology, new business methods and therefore human/societal aspirations) opens up many esoteric subtle  (sookshma) areas wherein wealth generation is very much more than the earlier factors of production. 

The rate of knowledge useage is such that even in about a decade, things which were never foreseen before emerge as a great wealth generator and of large benefit to a large number of people.

-              Computer software itself is a classic example.

-              Many virtual businesses like Microsoft, Google, etc.,

-              Designs

-              Many creative industries

-              Many financial engineering packages.

NEW AREAS

In biomedical areas including in neuro sciences, totally new discoveries and knowledge domains may emerge. For example following a particular protocol of actions (some what like yoga or with some instruments/prophylactic medicines/nutrition) may prevent many known diseases. Similarly as Nature is also clever, many new unknown diseases/syndromes may emerge.  Perhaps Advisory Services with authentic knowledge sources, may become a new wealth generating business for the future.

As the number of old persons (senior citizens) is on the rise – in India it is about 110 million and will increase about 5 million every year – world over, new services may emerge around them.  It is not fore mere compassion alone but a number of old persons have life savings.

Also new methods of acquiring the experiential knowledge of old persons and applying them for practical uses, may emerge as new research and business area.

I don’t want to list all of them except for pointing out that the new opportunities will be much more in complex conceptual planes rather than the usual beaten (well known paths of LABOUR-LABOUR-CAPITAL – Even well known KNOWLEDGE)

FUTURE WEALTH

That is where the importance of being with those who live in KNOWLEDGE SPACE most of their times becomes important.  Industry and Businesses have to seek the universities not for romantic commitment to knowledge nor as a CSR item!  It is a search for future wealth.  Therefore the approach should go beyond immediate questions of employability, solving some fire fighting issues etc.,  I say this to both groups from Universities and Industries.

Well we all need to address daily roti/nice daal or bread-butter-jam issues.  Also some beverages!

But U-I interactions should go far beyond to seek new areas of KNOWLEDGE SPACES which can emerge and be a rich source of wealth and mass applications.

If Industries prepare themselves for reaping such benefits for their businesses and if universities gear up to cultivate these NEW KNOWLEDGE SPACES along with Industry, India can really become a great source of HUMAN CAPITAL  and a Global Knowledge Hub.  Others around the world will rush to reap their benefits too.  There can then be virtuous cycles of wealth generation, mass applications and new innovations.

INTUITIVE JUMPS AND STRATEGIES

Talking of innovations, it requires not a one-track-mind of studying past success stories or failure stories.  There are now a number of well researched works which question  the efficacy of Harvard case studies for planning the future or choosing options for the futures.  It appears that really successful businesses or researches or even military operations have not  followed the case study approach.  Some study of the past and analysis like SWOT are useful.

But beyond that INTUITION has to operate. In the knowledge intensive world and for the new knowledge wealth generation, we have talked about, such intuitive strategies are crucial.

In order to create fertile ground for such intuitive jumps, it is essential to include creative humanities in the education even for engineering, science etc.,  Yes, we can include mythologies as well.  Indian languages are rich in them. Also music of various forms from India.

Another important element that would help in creative innovations which can open up new areas of wealth, is to look for more and more DIVERSITY.  The brand wagon types of businesses chase one business model.  It may succeed for sometime and then crash!!  Remember the recent developed country crashes and even the current EU crises.  India has diversity of all forms.  Let the education systems capture and nurture these diversities rather than attempting to imitate a few examples from India and abroad or by trying to “uniformise” under diktats from Delhi or State Capitals.

Diversity in education will open up many new knowledge areas.  If we sincerely do that others in the world, especially the developed world, will come to India to capture the benefits.

It can also lead to new researches and publications for which India will be noticed.  Currently even the best of our institutions are doing follower type research publications. A follower cannot reap full benefits as the FIRST MOVERS can

QUANTITY AND LARGE GER:

Lastly, but not the least while doing all these, let us not forget a fact that we cannot become a knowledge hub or great wealth generators, without having a large number of people having higher education even if it were not of excellent standards.  Life has its normal distribution or bell curve. The Gross Enrolment Ration (GER) in Higher Education has to go up to 40% very soon from the current level of about 11%.  This can be achieved by using the principle of DIVERSITY and using various INFORMAL systems of education (distance, on-line, modular approach to electives, on-the-job degree studies etc.,) as well using modern technological tools.  Such a broadening is necessary if we have to create peaks of excellence and also big businesses which can create wealth in new (and old) areas, at a global level.

Yes, India can become  a Global Knowledge Hub and huge reservoir of HUMAN CAPITAL to conquer “new knowledge mines of the future” if Industry (Business) and Universities (colleges) work together with the future in mind.


Keynote address delivered by YS Rajan at the CII’s 6th University Industry Council organized KNOWLEDGE CONCLAVE on 21st – 22nd  May 2010, BANGALORE.