27 September 2017 12:59:55 IST

XLRI hosts 4th ‘Dr Verghese Kurien Memorial Oration on Sustainable Development’

Environmentalist Ashok Khosla delivered a talk on ‘machine revolution’

XLRI – Xavier School of Management organised the 4th ‘Dr Verghese Kurien Memorial Oration on Sustainable Development’ on September 23. Organised under the aegis of Fr Arrupe Centre for Ecology and Sustainability (FACES), XLRI, in memory of the Founder of Amul, Verghese Kurien, otherwise known as the ‘Milkman of India’, the oration aimed 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, Ashok Khosla, environmentalist and founder and chairman, Development Alternatives Group, delivered the oration on the topic ‘The machine revolution: fulfilling the aspirations of rural India’.

In his speech, Khosla said, “Some 70 years ago, Dr Verghese Kurien created Amul, one of the most successful social enterprises in history. Over this period, Amul pioneered technical, managerial, and institutional innovations that led to remarkable progress in India’s dairy industry — taking it from one of the least productive in the world to becoming the largest in any country within a few decades. The magnitude of Dr Kurien’s contribution to the nutrition and health of the nation’s people was accompanied with a comparable impact by the organisations he created on the incomes, social status, education of the dairy farmers, who were his first and most heartfelt concern.”

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

Machine Revolution

Emphasising on the topic of his oration, ‘The Machine Revolution’, Khosla said, “Improving lives means improving productivity. Productivity of labour, productivity of the land, and productivity of resources, such as water, energy and materials. And improving productivity needs technology, to extend and multiply the capabilities of the human and animal effort on which the large numbers of our marginalised compatriots solely depend. Technology means tools, instruments, methods and know-how, all of which can be subsumed under the metaphor of a “machine”. Some of the machines needed for improving the economic performance of rural communities already exist, resulting from the 200 years of experience worldwide since the Industrial Revolution. Others, needed to address the different life and livelihood issues that are peculiar to the rural economy, must be invented and delivered to a widespread market. This requires “disruptive innovation” of the kind pioneered by the Green and White Revolutions: a new “Machine Revolution”.”

The event was also graced by TV Narendran, Chairman, XLRI Board of Governors and MD – Tata Steel; Fr E Abraham, SJ Director of XLRI; Ashis K Pani, Dean (Academics), XLRI; and Madhukar Shukla, Chairperson, Fr Arrupe Center for Ecology & Sustainability, XLRI.