25th September, 2017: XLRI- Xavier School of Management organized the 4th “Dr Verghese Kurien Memorial Oration on Sustainable Development” on Saturday, 23rd September, 2017. Organised under the aegis of Fr Arrupe Center for Ecology and Sustainability (FACES), XLRI, in memory of the Founder of AMUL Dr. Verghese Kurien, otherwise known as “the Milkman of India”, the oration aims to provide a platform to listen to and learn from thought leaders, social entrepreneurs, development sector professionals and policy makers who have made a significant contribution to the idea of an empowered, prosperous and sustainable society.

This year, Dr.Ashok Khosla, eminent environmentalist and Founder & Chairman, DevelopmentAlternatives Group delivered the oration on the topic “TheMachine Revolution: Fulfilling the Aspirations of Rural India”

In hisspeech, Dr. Khosla said, “Some 70 years ago, Dr Verghese  Kuriencreated Amul, one of the most successful social enterprises in history. Over this period, Amul pioneered technical, managerial, and institutionalinnovations that led to remarkable progress in India’s dairy industry – takingit from one of the least productive in the world to becoming the largest in anycountry within a few decades.  The immense magnitude of Dr Kurien’scontribution to the nutrition and health of the nation’s people, wasaccompanied with a comparable impact by the organisations he created on theincomes, social status, education of the dairy farmers, who were his first andmost heartfelt concern. 

He added,“The “White Revolution” brought enormous quantities of protein into the dietsof India’s population, complementing the massive quantities of caloriesprovided by the ‘Green Revolution’. The efforts of scientist/practitioners likeDr Kurien have certainly enabled large numbers of our fellow citizens to livehealthier and more productive lives. Beyond nourishing food, people also haveother basic needs such as water, energy for lighting and cooking, shelter,clothing, knowledge, health care and, above all, livelihoods and jobs.”  

Emphasizingon the topic of his oration, ‘The Machine Revolution’, Dr. Khosla said, “Improvinglives means improving productivity.  Productivity of labour, productivityof the land, and productivity of resources, such as water, energy andmaterials.  And improving productivity needs technology, to extend andmultiply the capabilities of the human and animal effort on which the largenumbers of our marginalised compatriots solely depend.  Technology meanstools, instruments, methods and know-how, all of which can be subsumed underthe metaphor of a “machine”.  Some of the machines needed for improvingthe economic performance of rural communities already exist, resulting from the200 years of experience worldwide since the Industrial Revolution.  Others,needed to address the different life and livelihood issues that are peculiar tothe rural economy, must be invented and delivered to a widespread market. This requires “disruptive innovation” of the kind pioneered by the Green andWhite Revolutions: a new “Machine Revolution”

To explainhow ‘machines’ and institutions that can bring about the kinds of impacts onthe lives and livelihoods of India’s rural poor, Dr. Khosla gave example ofTARAlife, a social enterprise recently set up by the Development AlternativesGroup in his speech. 

TARAlife isthe latest initiative of the globally recognized 35-year-old social enterpriseDevelopment Alternatives Group to motivate and help entrepreneurs create localindustries and sales channels for basic needs and aspirational products, andsimultaneously generate jobs, income and purchasing power in rural areas. It isa new enterprise was launched on 17 March 2017 as a market-based solution topoverty, hunger and environmental destruction with the purpose not only to delivergood financial returns on investment but also make much needed transformationaleconomic, social and environmental contributions to India’s future. 

In hisaddress, Fr. E Abraham, S. J. Director of XLRI said, “Dr.Kurien’s remarkable life and achievements are an embodiment of his faith in theability of the common man to exercise control over his destiny. This faithhelped him to create world-class institutions that become shining examples ofexcellence (e.g., GCMMF, IRMA, NDDB, etc.), which enabled ordinary people toachieve extraordinary results. 

Hestrongly believed that by placing technology and professional management in thehands of farmers, the living standards of millions of rural poor could beimproved. His creation of community-owned co-operatives empowered millions ofrural families, most of whom were landless and small farmers, in India.” 

RememberingDr. Kurien, Fr. Abraham said, “XLRI’s relationship with Dr. Kurien goes backto over 24 years. I personally had an enriching association with Dr Kurien andwas greatly inspired with his visionary foresight and single-mindeddetermination in executing his vision for the dairy sector and more importantlyin helping raise the living standards of millions of rural milk producersacross thousands of villages in India.” 

“Wedecided to institute this Annual Oration to commemorate Dr Kurien’s legacy -because his life and work exemplifies the model for a responsible managementleader, combining business skills with the larger good of the society andnation-building,” Fr. Abraham further added. 

The eventwas also graced by Mr. T V Narendran, Chairman, XLRI Board ofGovernors and MD – Tata Steel, Fr. E Abraham, S. J. Directorof XLRI and Dr. Ashis K. Pani, Dean (Academics), XLRI and

Dr.Madhukar Shukla,Chairperson, Fr. Arrupe Center for Ecology & Sustainability, XLRI.

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