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“Our Aim Is To Understand India’s Pivot Towards A New Era”

Our events have attracted over 60 ministers and more than 100 CEOs as speakers; they have been able to air their views freely, in a conversational format

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Sunil Kant Munjal, Chairman, Hero Enterprise speaks about the Mindmine Summit 2022 in an exclusive interaction with BW Businessworld

As Chairman of Hero Enterprise, how deeply involved are you with the Mindmine Institute? What are the various initiatives of Mindmine Institute?

The team that is manning the think tank has developed considerable experience over the years — and they handle most of the operational aspects; I do, however, help in terms of ideation, development of content and in selection of some of the speakers. 

The Mindmine Institute has organised flagship events and conversations in Delhi and other metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru over the years. During the pandemic, it was actively involved through the virtual format. It has also developed policy and thought papers on various issues for dissemination across the government and intelligentsia. 

What has been your thought behind the Mindmine Summit, considering this is the 15th edition?

We rolled out our thought leadership programmes in 2006 to understand the various facets of India a decade after reforms were initiated. We set up a forum to stimulate meaningful conversations, trigger debates, and discover interesting ways to look at India, Indians and India’s global relations in a continuously changing world. It gives us some satisfaction to know that this this think-fest has gained immense credibility as an independent forum for dialogue and debate while also generating traction across conventional and social media. Our events have attracted over 60 ministers and more than 100 CEOs as speakers; they have been able to air their views freely, in a conversational format.

Why “Repurposing India”? Do you think India needs to majorly rethink its focus? 

We realised how much the ground beneath us had shifted since 2019 in terms of what defined our lives and work, how our businesses and jobs were being reimagined, how policies were being rewired, and how the government had changed the way it interacted with us as citizens. As paradigms shifted, we felt the need to remodel our perceptions and adjust our expectations as a people. India is also looking at itself in a new light in its renewed focus towards becoming a developed nation. Hence the need to Repurpose India.

Which are the areas that the summit will look at?

We will look at India’s place in the new world order, examine the emerging geopolitics, delve into the future of jobs and careers, analyse the quest for self-reliance, especially in basic and high tech manufacturing, explore the quiet transformation in rural and underserved India, examine emerging trends in entrepreneurship, etc. There will also be offbeat sessions on spirituality and storytelling. In as many ways as is realistically possible over a two-day period, our aim is to understand India’s pivot towards a new era.

Interestingly, there is a session on ‘Black Swan’ events. Do you foresee another Covid like situation soon?

Random events are difficult to visualise or anticipate or plan for; while on some occasions, they come with early warning signals, on most occasions they appear out of the blue. The tsunami in 2004 was one such random event, the pandemic was another. Yet there are important lessons to be learnt from random events in terms of preparation, precaution, management and mitigation.

When do you see India becoming a USD 5 trillion economy? Which sectors do you feel would contribute towards this?

It is difficult to pinpoint an exact year. A lot would depend on how fast global inflation recedes, and whether or not the West goes into a recession; after all, even if India seems to be in a sweet spot in terms of its economic recovery, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Our ability to grow quickly would depend on the speed at which we are able to create new and better paying jobs, the pace of socio-economic mobility through better education, and whether digitisation and new physical infrastructure brings new sections of the population into the formal economy.  

In my view, healthcare, education, sustainable mobility, tech-driven logistics, tech-driven agriculture, electronics manufacturing, etc. would be some sectors to watch out for.

What other initiatives are you working on? 

The Serendipity Arts Foundation, which my family has set up, is resuming the fourth edition of the Serendipity Arts Festival in its original physical avatar after three long years. We will have a line-up of immersive and interdisciplinary programmes conceptualised by a panel of distinguished curators spanning across the Performing, Visual, and Culinary Arts. 

Our family foundation is also in the process of building an arts and cultural institution in Vasant Kunj in Delhi to demonstrate India’s rich cultural heritage. It will integrate different art forms while amalgamating the best of India’s local and traditional arts and present these using path-breaking technology. Construction on the site has begun and we are in active conversations with institutions and stakeholders around the world to make this project truly unique.

How can top industrialists contribute towards making India a better place?

Many entrepreneurs are already doing yeomen work in making India a better place and this has been happening for many years; at times, we learn about various philanthropic and social ventures in the media; on many occasions, we don’t hear this, as many entrepreneurs prefer to do their work quietly. 

However, my view is that to make a real difference, industrialists need to go beyond signing cheques, and get actively involved in their projects, either operationally or as mentors. What is really heartening in recent years is to see the active involvement of young entrepreneurs in the business of doing good; they are using technology, doing the right levels of due diligence, deploying the right people, entering into the right kind of collaborations, and doing appropriate levels of monitoring to ensure that their funds are being put to best use -- this is making a real difference on the ground.

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Magazine 10 Sep 2022